How We’re Doing Summer – How we’re planning to have fun, stay busy, and not go crazy this summer (all without spending a fortune or doing any big trips!)
Summer in Arizona is kind of like winter in Minnesota: there are a few months where you really try not spend much time outside. It’s in the 90s at 5:00 in the morning and up to (or over) 100 by 10am, so we can’t spend much time at parks or out riding bikes. Other than swimming and splash pads (sort of the summer equivalent of sledding and playing in the snow), we find ourselves pretty house bound instead of playing outside.
I definitely believe in letting Milo and Sophie entertain themselves whenever possible–I think it’s a good way to encourage creativity, teach them how to get along, and learn that they can entertain themselves. BUT. I also know that two days (not to mention 2 weeks or 2 months) into summer vacation, there’s a loooooot of time to fill, and cries of boredom and stir-craziness pop up all the time.
For me and my kids, it usually works best to have a couple “landmarks” in the day and week, and then they can be in charge of sorting out the in-between times. So while there will not be an intricate schedule or 1000 fun activities planned (sorry kids!), here are a few ways we’re approaching summer this year.
1. Set screen time expectations.
One of the things that’s worked best for us in the last 6 months is to set a specific time of day for screen time. I used to say they had x number of minutes per day, but without setting a time of day for that to go down (and deciding as we’d go), they’d ask about it first thing in the morning and then all day long after that.
Now, they know that screen time is at, say, 4:00 PM. I pick a time that works well for us (I can get things ready for dinner or take care of some around-the-house things). They know it’s coming, so they don’t ask me 20 times per day if they can have screen time yet, and they can use that time for games or shows. Everyone is going to have a different way of doing screen time (and they should!), but this has worked really well for us lately.
Sophie’s school has given us pass codes for a few educational sites to help the students keep up some of their skills during the summer, so we’re working that into the day as well.
2. Tour de Splash Pads + Pools.
We don’t have a pool or a neighborhood pool to use (I know!), so we’ll be making a tour de splash pads and pools this summer. Our community and city have some really fun ones to try out, and we’ve also signed up for a gym with a pool for the summer.
To make things easier on myself, I keep our pool bag on a hook near the door that’s ready to go when we are. That way, we’re not trying to find the towels, or remember where the goggles were last. Inside, I’ve got our beach towels, sunscreen, and goggles, plus I usually keep a few dry snacks in there, like fruit leather and these Health Warrior Chia Bars.
I like them because they’re made from a short, recognizable ingredient list and aren’t packed with sugar (only 4-5g each). They’re also individually wrapped and about 100 calories each. With the chia seeds as the main ingredient, they’re filling enough to be part of an afternoon snack, or I can tuck one into a lunchbox or picnic basket to finish off a meal. (I also keep a few in my purse for a great grab + go snack).
Sophie and I LOVE the coconut, and Milo loves the dark chocolate best. I love that no one is going to be hangry (hungry + angry) while we’re out, and they’re a snack I feel great about. When it’s time to go, I just grab our water bottles, and we’re ready to hit the pool!
3. Friday Fun Day.
I’m always so impressed by so many of my friends who have fun adventures and outings with their kids all the time. I think it’s so awesome! But that doesn’t really come naturally to me. Instead, last year and this year I’m doing Friday Fun Day, where we choose one fun thing that’s out of the ordinary to do. I think of them like mini dates. None of them has to be expensive, and, in fact, most of what we do is free or VERY inexpensive. A few of our favorites from last year…
- Put bubbles or water beads into the water table and go crazy on the patio (make sure you’re past the put-everything-in-my-mouth stage)
- Get out a new set of stickers to play with
- Paint (I love washable watercolors)
- Do a craft-in-a-box
- See the cheap summer movie at the movie theater
- Get smoothies or frozen lemonade
- Play with the train set and read some new books at the bookstore
- Go to a museum or exhibit
- Visit a big city library you might normally go to (the kids’ sections can be really fun!)
- Go to a fine foods store or Whole Foods and choose something you don’t usually buy, whether that’s a new variety of grapes or a fancy chocolate bar to share.
4. Library Day.
We’re regular library goers, but during the summer we make the most of our library by making it it a bit more of a THING since we need air-conditioned ways to kill time. I request a lot of our books ahead of time (our library keeps them on a hold shelf for you to pick up all in one spot), then I let everyone choose a few books while we’re there. We find a secret corner (i.e. anywhere the kids choose to sit) and read a few of our books. If there are blocks or puzzles out in the kids’ area, we might spend some time doing that as well.
Pro Tip: I highly recommend reserving books if your library lets you. The shelves that are bursting with books during the school year are often completely bare in the summer. Reserving a few things ahead of time means you know you’ll at least get to come home with SOMETHING good. Not sure what to read? Several of my favorites are in my books section.
5. Make Something.
Whenever I’m stuck for something to do, we always make something. I love cooking with my kids. It’s SUPER messy and always takes longer than expected, but we all enjoy it, and the kids get better and better at is as they grow older. We do a lot of low-cook or no-cook meals in the summer, so meal prep can be done early in the day or in the afternoon, depending on when we need something to do. I also love including them in easy (and forgiving) recipes like, granola or smoothie popsicles.
If cooking isn’t your thing, maybe that’s the day you get out the play-dough, build a fort, or bust out some toothpicks and marshmallows to do some building.
How do YOU approach summer?
Any favorite tips, tricks, or suggestions?
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