11 Summer Activities Both Kids AND Parents Enjoy

We all want to give our kids a summer holiday they’ll love. Too often, though, that means we, as parents are more tired than rested at the end of it all!

How can we plan holidays that work for both kids and grown-ups?

Here are a few things I’ve learned after doing some research!

Kids Love Time to Just Play at Home

Make sure to also plan for some downtime at home.

After a busy school year, our kids need time to rest and recharge. So when we plan for the Summer, it’s important to not plan too much. 

While we might like to plan a few “at home” activities, large chunks of free-play time are good for the kids – and us.

But Morten, my kid just won’t play independently?! 

You aren’t alone in this. Independent play, without Mom or Dad, doesn’t come easily to some kids. It takes time to help our kids learn that playing alone can be just as fun.

Here are some ideas I have found to encourage independent play:

#1 Holiday Activity Bag

Head to the Dollar Tree or Charity Shop and fill a little bag of goodies, especially for the Summer.

The items don’t have to be fancy or expensive. But you could choose something more pricey if you feel it will get good mileage over the Summer.

Here are some ideas for things to include:

  • Playdough and Puzzles
  • Brain Teaser Puzzles
  • Stickers, feathers, and pom poms for crafting
  • Scratch Art or color by number
  • Tiny dolls like Polly Pocket

And toddlers love tactile things that they can explore and fiddle with.

Like this,

  • Folding comb/travel hairbrush
  • Stickers and Post-it Notes
  • Tongs and pom poms (great for practicing transferring from one bowl to another)
  • Posting Q-tips in spice jars
  • Bottle caps for twisting

#2 Read in their Room

This is a clever way to ease your child into independent play.

Your child can slowly learn to play by themself while you are nearby.

Take your book or a magazine and quietly read while your kid plays. I’d suggest not using screens as this is very distracting.

I wouldn’t bank on this as your personal rest time as you could be asked a million questions🙈. The point is – this is to help them.

#3 Accessible Toys & Activities

Make sure all their things are accessible, at their eye height, even snacks to get them through the morning.

And, if they need to open or close any boxes, for example, make sure they can do this without you.

Pack away anything that requires adult supervision for another time.

This way, the kids can play and potter entirely without your help.

#4 Avoid Interruptions

As much as we want our kids to learn the skill of independent play, we are sometimes the biggest challenge to this.

Resist the urge to constantly intervene or interrupt your child’s independent play –  with questions, “No’s” or advice.

Let them be.

Give them the space to figure things out on their own and solve problems.

And then, step in only when necessary or if safety is a concern.

#5 Give a Time Limit

Some kids will naturally start playing alone, and they can be left for an hour or more.

But there are other kids that really don’t like independent play, or they are very new to it.

So, it can be helpful to give them a limit.

Always start small and increase the time in increments—just 5 or 10 minutes to begin with.

You can use sand timers (mini-hour glasses) or egg timers so the kids can see or hear the limit without constantly asking you. You can buy packs of sand timers with different colored sands that indicate different lengths of time.

#6 – Time Outdoors

Take advantage of the warm weather and explore the great outdoors.

Time in nature is crucial for our overall development, well-being, and connection to the natural world.

Not to mention the benefits of fresh air when the kids are getting cranky.

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • A Family picnic in a nearby park
  • Fishing
  • Swimming

Or just something fun in your backyard like frisbee, mini-Olympics, and obstacle course.

Pro-Dad Tip: Let them get dirty. Let them be a little risky – let them test their limits. You are there to step in if necessary.

#7 – Think About the Whole Family

Not all activities are “kids only” or “adults only.”

In general, young children can enjoy many of the things adults enjoy.

Here are some kid-friend activities in typically adult spaces:

  • People watching in public spaces
  • Transportation is fascinating – trains and buses are great for playing eye-spy
  • Treasure Hunt in cities or new locations. For example, if you are in a new cultural destination, how many chimneys, cultural icons or flags, or electric bikes can they spot?
  • Looking down drains
  • Don’t stand on sidewalk cracks
  • Interactive museums (more treasure hunting!)

Pro-Dad Tip: What do each of you need to regulate? Know your family’s limits and just do what you can.

#8 – Gardening and Home Maintenance

The reality is that many of us spend our Summer holidays catching up on home maintenance.

This is a great way to include kids (in certain activities).

Digging, planting, and pulling out weeds is great for kids of any age.

When my son was a toddler, while I worked under the sink or installed a shelf, my son would tinker for ages in the toolbox and find “things to fix”.

#9 – Movie Night

This is for the Dads with slightly older little kids, the ones that can get through a movie.

There are lots of movies that are enjoyable for the whole family (even teenagers 😉).

This is a cool way for your kids to get a special treat and for Mom and Dad to unwind.

Here are some ideas:

  • The Incredibles
  • Narnia (Probably best for kids closer to 10 years)
  • Annie the Musical
  • Moana
  • Mary Poppins
  • Finding Nemo
  • Inside Out

Pro-Dad Tip: Set up mattresses on the floor so that everyone can fall asleep when they are ready. It’s okay to skip brushing their teeth once in a while!

#10 – Rest Time

This is invaluable for weekends and holidays. Rests don’t always need to include a nap, but they can.

As kids get older, reading books or listening to music and audiobooks are a good way to rest.

The idea here is to be quiet and have a break from people and from “doing.”

The adult on duty could also take a break here.

You might need to bring out the sand timer I mentioned earlier for rest time too.

#11 – Parent ON and OFF Time

Dads, who are the other adults in your life that you feel safe leaving your kids with?

Plan ahead of time with the kids’ Mom, their grandparents, or your neighbors, and try to find ON and OFF time that benefits all the adults.

Play dates are good for helping out other parents, and they return the favor the following week by hosting the kids.

Or, one parent takes the kids to Granny’s house for a sleepover, and the other parent has a quiet night in, a social evening, or a night away. And then you switch around another night.

Why not send the kids to a family member so you can have date night!

This way – everyone’s needs are met at some point over the summer break.

Thanks for reading.

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