Summer And Kids

Summer And Kids

Remember playing in the sandbox, running through the sprinkler, eating ice cream and splashing at the beach, playing sports, biking around the neighborhood or camping in the tent. All conjure up warm memories of summers gone by. What kind of memories do you want your family to have of this summer? Ask your family this weekend after supper. What would each of them like to do this summer. Jot down the ideas. Add to the list. Get ideas from other families. Make an amazing summer for your family. Focus on strengthening the family as a whole. Deepen the bonds you have with each member. Include fun, work, rest, hobbies, new skills and friends. Here are some contributions to give us some ideas:

From Helen:

  • Our children volunteer at the library. There are so many activities and the high school guys can put the hours toward their voluntary school hours. Children can be volunteers from the age of 12 yr. and over. The younger ones participate in different activities and it’s all free.
  •  We also do 20 mins. of cleaning each morning. I make a list of every possible cleaning job that we never get around to the rest of the year, i.e. top of fridge, book shelves, cupboard shelves. They can clean 2 shelves and do some more another day. Little ones can be given little things to do. I find that they are quite happy to go find something to do after that!
  • We go visit friends and have friends over. Summer is a great time to have your own clubs with friends– knitting, sewing, book club., hiking club etc. Trails are free and we invite another family and have a picnic. At the beginning of summer we plan activities — what are people’s interest, day trips we can go on, what’s happening in the area. Things change but it helps everyone understand that summer holidays are not for lazing around. It’s a change of activity and a chance to meet new friends and new challenges!
  • I print out calendars ( for July/August, post them on the notice board and this way I see the ‘big’ picture for the summer and start planning. This means I can see if we are double booked or doing to much! We meet with families at a park and now there are splash pads which mean mother’s with young children can relax without the anxiety of deep water.
  • Getting teens to do a first aid/CPR course in the summer is good use of time. If they have this certificate they can volunteer or work(16) at a YMCA.
  • We have bought trail and conservation guides for our area and each week we choose a different area to investigate for a Sunday drive or walk.

    From Lisa:

  • Regarding summer ideas, my girls are 9 and 7 and at this age they want to try out different activites and learn from it while having fun. Also I find they have a longer attention span to do certain projects.
  • Canvas painting and 3-D paper artwork is a great way to indulge their creativity and have fun with colors and craft materials, not to mention a sense of pride and accomplishment in seeing their artwork displayed prominently in the living area. It can also make good gift items for the grandparents and relatives. The Dollar store has extensive art supplies at a nominal cost and I stock on these for art projects on hot summer afternoons or rainy grey days. Try it and you will enjoy it too with your kids.
  • Another thing my kids love to do is simple science experiments. Google them on the Web or pick up science books from the Library and  try age appropiate stuff. Collect the materials needed from recycled kitchen and pantry items and home supplies and voila you have little scientists in the making! Some supervision is required.
  • A summer play date in the park is always a good idea for children, with neighbourhood friends or family relatives. Mom just has to worry about the sunscreen and some drinks and snacks and sit without a care enjoying the sunshine while the kids expend all their energy outdoors. Good time for moms to connect with other moms too.

    From Meg:

  • I post a list of ideas in our kitchen by the calendar every summer of things to do or places to go if we get a chance and the weather cooperates. Most are free but not all. We don’t always get to all of them since I have a pass at the Holiday Inn pool and I tend to like to get my money’s worth out of it by taking the kids swimming at least 3 times a week. Maybe some others would find it useful to do the same. My list includes: visits to local museums, trips to different parks with playgrounds, wading pools, or conservation areas, nearby beaches, historical sites, various music in the park events, trip to the downtown market, different libraries, rock gardens, visits to fire and police stations, sports events etc.

    From Michelle:

  • The public library, smaller nearby museums and music in the park often have free or very inexpensive performances and/or learning-based activities throughout the summer, primarily for younger ages. Many have their schedule on their website; some require pre-registration.  We have enjoyed them all for many years.
  • Also there are always art exhibitions throughout the summer in and around our city and nearby towns.  I love visiting these; I get a real mental and emotional boost from being surrounded by creativity.  My kids don’t care as much about them, but the promise of ice cream and a playground visit makes them more appealing.  Plus, they get exposed to and inspired by different art forms and styles, and we all get to explore different communities around here.  And of course, they get to learn how to behave appropriately in these settings (bring a stroller for the younger ones to keep them from certain disaster!).
  • Summer is also a great time to learn something new, like an instrument or language.  I find that this can be very stressful during the school months, as kids and parents are already juggling too much and a beginner subject usually requires a lot of parental involvement until the basics are mastered.  The library has a limited selection, but you can google any language for kids and come up with free resources.  If anyone is interested in teaching very basic German to younger children, you can get a good CD-ROM for only about $20 from

    From Dianne:

  • Some years, we go to a family camp in the summer.  This year we are trading houses with our friends in New Jersey.  They will visit their relatives in this area and we will visit New York without having to pay for hotels.  They have 6 kids.  We also have friends who live only 10 minutes away from us who have a large estate mansion on a lake with a pool, hot tub and theater room.  They have a cat that needs to be looked after and they are so generous when they go away that they ask our family to take care of their house while they are gone.  It is a great and easy getaway.  We also have the use of a family cottage.  We have even done one of those resort free getaways where all you have to do is listen to their talk for 1 hour to have 2 free nights in their hotel and we have had a great time.  They even supplied babysitting and lots of activities for the kids and the talk was not high pressure.

    From Veronique:

  • It’s worth mentioning that the public library is air conditioned. Also, older children can make a few dollars by looking after pets for short periods of time: for instance, by walking a dog or letting a cat out while the owner is at work; or by feeding animals that owners wouldn’t normally board during their holiday (like hamsters or fish or reptiles). Another idea is to take the bus to run errands, assuming this is not what you always do. My children find city buses very exciting.

    From Karen:

  • For teens, there is a great leadership training program offered by our hospitals. They can volunteer there – also helps with selecting direction for future jobs.
  • Contact the Humane Society for dog walking – I like how it teaches our kids to care for and have compassion for other living beings
  • Camp outs at home in the backyard
  • Caring for the garden, the fruit trees etc.
  • Building birdhouses
  • Bike treks on neighboring trails
  • Taking a summer course together (my dream) like a language, or sign language
  • Something that worked for our entire family was to sign up for a sporting event – you have to find the right one to accommodate all ages and ability. We had fun training together and we made it a fundraiser for diabetes. If you raised enough money, the entrance fees were waived (we have a family member with this disease, so everyone got on board!) and … the event happened to be Mother’s Day so I was able to get everyone to join me as that is what I wanted for the day … could use a birthday … or plan a big party after the event for all the family participants … It helped keep us physically active, training together and doing something fun together. The focus became the fundraising and helping each other train, not the competition so that part was good.

    From Maria:

  • Have your kids volunteer in any capacity.  My 12 year old volunteers for our parish Vacation Bible Camp.  Our city parks often have volunteers (older guys) do free programs for children.  Our community had notice boards around asking if any kids (all ages) wanted to play soccer in the local school field on a particular day of the week during the summer.  Older teens could “coach” & ref the games.  And that could easily be done for any team sport eg. baseball, football, etc.

    From Mary:

  • My kids love to work in the garden, especially planting and picking the vegetables. What a great way to learn about nature, how things grow and a sense of achievement.

    From Karen:

  • We entertain other families as we have a large pool and space to run and play. We attend our children’s football games and make a day of it with a picnic. We also enjoy going to a family drive-in movie or movie in the park that a nearby city puts on.

    From Helen:

  • When the kids were young, I was not able to do much as I was often pregnant or with a baby. We’d put up a tent in the basement for my little kids and I’d sleep on a couch nearby with the baby. We’d sing campfire songs, have flashlights and read stories together. This made the summer enjoyable eventhough I was not able to do much. As the kids became older, we put the tent in the backyard and they enjoyed that very much too. Of course, we camped as a family at provincial parks as well.

    From Chris:

  • One suggestion I have is planning a lunch outing with dad, with an individual kid – to give them some one on one. You can pack a picnic or go out to eat – but it’s looked forward to by both kid and dad.

    From Irene:

  • Every summer I take my sister and my girls tent camping for a weekend, while the boys and dad have their own fun at home. We all look so forward to this annual event.
  • Our family does not encourage sleepovers, but we do invite children of like-minded families we have befriended to have a sleepover in the summer. It’s great peer pressure, a ton of fun and much appreciated by everyone.
  • We have very close friends who have moved away. We meet at a half way point and exchange kids for a few days. She takes my girls, I take her boys. That small change in dynamics adds a ton of fun into both our scenarios and nurtures much needed relationships as they get older. We both keep meals super simple, activities basic and low cost, and enjoy the extra time we have to read a book while the kids are super busy with each other.
  • We always look for work projects around the house that kids can do (strip wallpaper, paint a room, remove carpeting, drywall, roof, seal the driveway etc.). We pay them for this work. It keeps them occupied and teaches great skills. Add their favorite music and super yummy munchies and it becomes even more worthwhile.
  • At about the age of 11, the kids learn to mow the lawn. They do it for ourselves and for neighbors.
  • One year our family volunteered to do yard work for an elderly widow in our neighborhood. We cut the grass, trimmed overgrown bushes, took away debris and made her so happy. The kids loved the experience.
  • My girls love little kids and babies. Although they are not old enough to babysit, they do enjoy biking over to a mom’s home and helping her with her very small children. It gives them a change of pace, different location and opportunity to be of service. The other mom greatly appreciates the relief and I also get a break.
  • With a bunch of boys in our family, we decided to get into the expensive hobby of Warhammer. My kids have to build and paint miniature models of dwarfs, elves, goblins, etc. They design terrain too from whatever we have lying around the house. They spend hours doing this and then hours playing battles against siblings and friends. It has been an excellent way for them to keep busy over the years, as well as span the 11 year age range between them.
  • I find it really hard to spend time with my friends in the summer. So every June I pick my Fun in the Sun dates: one day per week for the whole summer. I determine a beach/park/splash pad etc. I will be at with my kids for each occasion. I then send this info to all my girlfriends and enjoy getting together with a variety of them all through the summer. It gives me something to look forward to every year and helps my kids build friendships with like-minded families.
  • We enjoy cycling as a family to a park or conservation area on Sundays. When I had small kids, I’d drive there, while the rest biked. We’d pack a simple picnic, their favorite teddy bear and enjoy the great outdoors. My kids have lots of memories of skipping stones at the waterfront.
  • We do not let our kids roam around on their own. We want to know where they are and what they are up to, with whom. We try to balance their time between work projects (for us or neighbors), rest, fun and friends. A list of at-home activities posted on the fridge helps to direct their activity: hopscotch, skipping, water sprinkler, sandbox, blowing bubbles, puzzles, books, finger painting, backyard soccer, water guns, camping in the backyard, hockey in the driveway, basketball etc. Kids are more willing when we do it with them.
  • We always have a ton of different genres of library books on hand.
  • We get a variety of videos on all sorts of topics (fiction, history, geography, science, documentary etc.)
  • If all else fails and they are bored, they get chored with a job I need done. Either I tell them off the top of my hand, or have them pull a piece of paper listing a task out of the bored jar.

    From Maria:

  • My boys, aged 7, 9 and 11, love to skateboard. We wake up super early and head to the skateboard park around 7 in the morning. I bring my lawn chair, mug of coffee, drinks for the kids and a hands-on breakfast (muffins, croissants, cinnamon buns etc.). My daughter scours the place for loose change and my boys have a blast between bites. Around 9 a.m. the teenagers arrive and it’s time for us to head home. This arrangement gives my boys the thrill they desire, but decreases their exposure to inappropriate behavior. They know this is the only way they get to the skateboard park, as I am unwilling to allow them to go during the day on their own because of the kind of crowd that hangs out there.
  • This summer we are going to have our boys build their own skateboard ramp, so they can practise in our driveway. They are super excited about this, and so are all the other kids in the neighborhood! Of course dad will be around to help make it happen. You bet this family project rates high on their list for this summer.
  • We have an above ground inflatable pool in our small backyard. There’s just enough room to squeeze in our home made fort and our swing set beside it. We are the talk of the neighborhood and the centre where all the action is. Kids love either sliding into the pool from the fort or swinging themselves into it. Although it does get crazy, I love it because everyone comes here, I can keep an eye on it and I know where my kids are at all times.

    From Marg:

  • We love to head out right after supper and do things together as a family. It might be to play some road hockey, basketball in the driveway, badminton in the backyard or just go for a walk. I’d grab the stroller with the youngest, put kids on trikes and bikes and we’d head out the door. My husband and I would walk and talk, while the others would ride to pre-determined spots (ie. 4th lamp post, corner of the street etc.) until we caught up. We could easily be out for an hour or more. I felt connected with my husband, energized by the exercise and happy to get out of the house. Best of all the kids were tired and had no problem fall ing asleep at the end of the day.

    From Theresa:

  • My boys love to fish. They grab their bikes, head to the water and spend their time trying to catch something. Sometimes I’ll go with them, take my lawn chair, favorite book and coffee and enjoy the solitude.
  • We used to go swimming daily at a neighbor’s pool. We’d be there for an hour every afternoon and would even vacuum the pool when needed to show our gratitude.

    From Tulip:

  • A friend of my husband’s gave us a backyard trampoline when they were finished with it. My boys spend hours on it. It has really helped me to keep them busy and burn off a lot of energy.

    From Jean:

  • My husband is totally into remote controlled cars and airplanes. He can’t get enough of them. He now has my boys doing it too and they just love it. They spend hours at it every summer and have even joined a local club to get together with others who share this hobby. I admit it can be expensive, but they’ve really bonded through it and it keeps my boys happily busy with their dad.

    From Al:

  • I took up mountain biking when my boys became teenagers as a way to keep them occupied and near me during the summers. Over the years, they’ve built ramps and jumps in the backyard, and we’ve gone to mountain biking paths, parks and even downhill. My boys love adventure andI make sure we do it together. We camp, canoe, paintball and zipline. The more adventure, the better. It keeps the lines of communication wide open and they are much more respectful of my advice.

    From Marie:

  • We plan every weekend of the summer so that we make sure we relax and enjoy. One weekend is our annual family reunion on my husband’s side. Someone either hosts a BBQ at their place or we all head to a conservation area for one major picnic. One year there was a pig roast. Our family also books a weekend in July and August to get together with several other families at a nearby park. We all bring our own picnics and enjoy the playgrounds, sport fields or waterfront together. It’s a nice way to stay in touch over these busy months. On other weekends, our family likes to head to different beaches and take along our bocce balls, volleyball, sand toys and small inflatable raft for fun. We pack a lunch and supper to max out the day as much as possible at the beach. Other times, we head out on some great bike paths outside our city or hiking trails. When we can, we love to go canoeing. That’s a special treat for the kids. Throw in a real camping trip once or twice in the summer, and before you know it, September is here.

    From Laura:

  • We love to take drives into the country and attend various fairs, antique shows, church dinners etc. on the weekends. We enjoy the drive and change of activity. It helps us all slow down and take pleasure in simple things.


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