With August right around the corner, we know that the days of carefree summer adventures with your kids are drawing to a close. However, there's still time to make the most of this season before school starts again. Summer for kids is all about relaxation, with no school schedules to worry about. They can stay up late, enjoy family trips, and engage in creative activities.
This time presents a wonderful opportunity for kids to explore new things, discover their local surroundings, and create lasting memories during family outings. As parents, we all want to ensure that summer adventures with our kids are enjoyable for everyone involved.
Yet, we understand that summer can be a bit overwhelming for parents, as we try to keep our kids fed and entertained. The days might feel never-ending, and the bickering over toys and screen time can add to the stress. It's not uncommon for the craft ideas we find online to end up causing more mess and frustration than anticipated.
For parents seeking a stress-free summer experience with their kids, it's essential to plan ahead with kid-friendly activities and family outings. While there's no guarantee of a perfect, stress-free day, we've found that by preparing in advance, staying flexible, and involving our children in the planning process, we are more likely to have successful and enjoyable summer adventures with the little ones.
If you're looking for stress-free activities to enjoy with your kids during these last days of summer, we've put together some helpful tips for you. Let's make the most of this time and create wonderful memories with our children
Planning Summer Activities With Children
When preparing for summer adventures with children, parents can take steps to set themselves up for success. It’s important for parents to consider their child(ren)’s age and be realistic about what activities are the best fit for their schedule and budget.
The best activities are those parents can set up and demonstrate for their child, which they can enjoy safely with minimal supervision. Open-ended play will keep kids entertained for a long period of time while developing their problem-solving or creative abilities.
To keep summer activities running smoothly and stress-free, parents should follow these tips for kid-friendly summer adventures.
Create a Schedule
Kids can make the most of summer activities when they have a predictable schedule to follow. Children with predictable routines are generally calmer and find it easier to adjust between activities. This doesn’t mean parents need to plan every minute of the day. But they should give kids of all ages some structure for the day. Some ideas for a summer schedule include:
- Do chores right after breakfast
- Go outside to play in the morning
- Do 20 minutes of reading
- Quiet time after lunch
- Complete workbook activities before screen time
- Go to the pool on Saturday afternoons
If a child is still learning to read, parents can use color-coded papers or pictures to display the schedule for their child.
Practice Flexibility and Embrace Unpredictability
Yes, schedules and structure are important. But life won’t look the same every single day of the summer. Children love when little unexpected events change their regular routines.
Embrace the flexibility of summer days with these simple, stress-free adventures for children:
- Let kids pick out a treat at the grocery store
- Attend kid craft activities at the library
- After kids earn allowance from chores, take them out for ice cream or snow cones
- Fill up water balloons on a hot afternoon
- Spin a wheel of possible activities for the day
- Stay up late to catch fireflies
Summer allows for more flexible schedules, so be sure to do simple unpredictable summer activities with kids to make the best memories.
Involve Kids in the Planning Process
Kids of any age can get involved in planning family-friendly summer activities. Parents who involve their kids in making summer plans will enjoy several benefits.
- Kids who help plan activities are more likely to participate and enjoy with a willing attitude.
- Parents who ask their kids for ideas are empowering their children to make choices.
- The whole family can benefit from the unique perspective and ideas kids have.
Older children can do research on local places they would like to visit or activities related to their own areas of interest.
Younger children can draw inspiration from the letters of the alphabet. Invite them to think of crafts, activities, and food related to a different letter each day.
When planning a family vacation, get input from everyone, including young children. Try to ensure there is something for each person to look forward to and enjoy about a trip.
Kid-Friendly Summer Adventures
Parents always need ideas for stress-free summer activities with kids. Some find it’s best to stockpile summer activity inspiration so they always have a suggestion for a rainy day or when a kid complains, “I’m bored.”
Many parents make a Summer Bucket List of fun things to do with kids and display it on the wall where kids can choose activities each day. Another idea is to make a Bored Jar with small cards listing activities kids can do on their own throughout the summer. Once a child can read, they select an item from the jar and enjoy the prompt activity for the next hour.
Having fresh, creative ideas for summer activities will get parents through the long, hot days of summer. Parents can add these family-friendly summer activities with kids to the schedule:
- Turn on the hose and sprinklers
- Fill up a baby pool and add floating toys
- Read a book in the shade
- Create sidewalk chalk art
- Mix a bucket of bubble solution, dip tennis rackets and string loops in to make giant bubbles
- Hang up a sheet and use a projector to make a drive-in movie
- Make a muffin-tin picnic, with assorted snacks and finger foods in muffin tin cups
- Draw and paint with finger paint or cornstarch chalk, using cut fruit or vegetable pieces as stamps
- Set up simple age-appropriate science experiments
- Play with modeling clay, using household objects to make imprints or cut shapes
- Plant flowers or vegetables so kids can water them and watch for blooms
- Let kids choose a new skill to learn, like baking, sewing, photography, etc.
- Go on a nature walk, collect plants to press and trace
- Go to a park, playground, or sports field
- Play at a kid-friendly splash pad
- Swim at a public pool
- Visit the library for story-time, themed activities, or Summer Reading programs
- Ride bikes on a park path or trail
- Taste-test local sweet treats until you find a family favorite
Tips for Stress-Free Family Outings
Planning summer adventures for the family can be fun and lead to great memories! But going anywhere with kids can be a recipe for stress and exhaustion, especially if parents find themselves unprepared. It’s important to plan ahead and take care of the parents’ needs, too, so the whole family can have a successful trip.
Parents planning a local day trip or a bigger week-long adventure can practice these vacation tips for families.
When Packing, Be Overprepared
For a stress-free family outing, parents need to plan ahead and prepare for the unexpected. This means making an itinerary with flexibility for kids getting tired of walking or needing a midday nap. Pack layers of clothing so everyone is prepared for cold or rainy days. Parents should bring plenty of snacks and water to fuel kids through summer adventures.
During family outings, many parents bring a basic first aid kit with sunscreen, band-aids, anti-itch ointment, sunburn relief, and children’s fever medicine. That way, they are prepared to help a child feel better immediately without losing time searching for a store.
Parents should also take time to prepare their child for travel during family vacations. When kids don’t understand where they are going or what the plan is for their trip, they may feel more anxious about the family outing. When parents discuss travel details with their kids and answer their questions, it helps kids relax and enjoy the adventure.
Self-Care for Stress-Free Family Vacations
One of the most important vacation tips for families is for parents to remember their own self-care throughout the summer. It’s important for adults to take care of themselves, especially if they are caring for young children. Parents who are nourished, well-rested, and feel emotionally supported will find it easier to relax and be patient during family activities in summer.
That’s why parents should consider their own self-care before and during family outings. Instead of staying up late packing or eating fast food during a road trip, parents can plan small moments and routines that help them relax throughout the summer.
Self-care for parents in summer might include:
- Waking up before their kids to enjoy a relaxing morning ritual
- Walking in nature daily to be rejuvenated
- Planning time to exercise or be active
- Staying hydrated, especially on hot summer days
- Eating fresh produce to get vitamins and fiber
- Building daily quiet time into their kids’ schedule
- Engaging socially—in person or via text—with supportive people
- Going to bed early enough to feel refreshed the next day
- Taking time to be in the moment and soak it all in
When parents take care of themselves and their own basic care needs, they will be better prepared to handle family outings with kids.
Stress-Free Summer Adventures With Kids
Parents who want to reduce their stress and enjoy fun summer activities with kids should focus on planning ahead while providing both structure and flexibility. They can make a list of the best age-appropriate activities for their child. When preparing for outings or family vacations this summer, parents should pack for possible challenges. And finally, parents should tend to their own self-care so they’re better able to enjoy summer adventures as a family.