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45 Ideas for Summer Fun with Kids

I refuse to let another “must,” “ought,” or “should” prevent me from savoring this brief window of opportunity that I have to enjoy time with my only-young-once daughters.

Ever struggle with the sense that your kids are growing up too quickly and far too much of their childhood is taken up by the drudgery of adulthood?  In my life --and I’m sure in yours -- there are a whole lot of obligations that have to be taken care of. Yet I refuse to let another “must,” “ought,” or “should” prevent me from savoring this brief window of opportunity that I have to enjoy time with my only-young-once daughters.  

My 2012 summer resolution is to stress less and savor more.  Rather than allowing myself to be ruled by a never-ending, always-growing To-Do list of professional and household tasks, I am making time and space for pure, unfettered fun. 

As the 2011-12 school year winds down, I am counting the days until my daughters are done with school for the year. I can’t wait for no-hurry mornings, stay-up-past-bedtime nights, and endless days of summer fun. Scratch “pack lunch” and “finish homework” off of that daily To Do list; summer vacation calls for filling our days with joy. Here is the Top 45 Summer To Do list we created together — the only kind of task list I want to see for the next few months:

  1. Make stepping stones
  2. Have a car wash
  3. Go to a Drive-In theatre
  4. Hike
  5. Swim a lot
  6. See fireworks
  7. Organize a block party for our neighbors
  8. Run through a fountain
  9. Make homemade ice cream
  10. Toss water balloons
  11. Run through a sprinkler
  12. Play Red Rover, freeze tag, and hide 'n' go seek for hours on end
  13. Decorate the driveway with chalk
  14. Sell lemonade at the park
  15. Donate the money to a charity
  16. Catch fireflies
  17. Look at the stars
  18. Sleep in a fort in the basement
  19. Sleep in a tent in the backyard
  20. Go for a long bike ride
  21. Have a picnic at the park
  22. Toss a frisbee
  23. Learn how to play Frisbee golf
  24. Play croquet, badminton, and wiffle ball daily
  25. Swing so high that we think our feet will touch the sky
  26. Get dizzy on a tire swing
  27. Build a sand castle
  28. Crash a sandcastle (with permission, of course!)
  29. Float down a lazy river on an inner tube
  30. Drink water from a hose
  31. Eat cones and cones of soft ice cream
  32. Make swirly designs in the night sky with sparklers
  33. Roast hot dogs and marshmallows on long sticks
  34. Eat s’mores
  35. Run around after dark, decked out in glow bracelets
  36. Go to a museum
  37. Ride bikes with friends
  38. Rollerblade everywhere!
  39. Plant flowers
  40. Look for salamanders under garden stones
  41. Enjoy the smell of freshly mowed grass
  42. Lie in a hammock
  43. Blow bubbles
  44. Jump rope
  45. Enjoy being young…and living summer with young people.

Signe Whitson is a licensed social worker, mother of two daughters, and author of Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope With Bullying.  For information and workshop inquiries, please visit www.signewhitson.com, "Like" Signe on Facebook, or Follow her on Twitter @SigneWhitson.

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Barbara Baxter June 04, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I love it! I do most of these during the summer anyway but you gave me a few new ideas. I copied the list and posted it next to my desk.
Jennifer Marangos June 05, 2012 at 11:08 AM
I actually recently asked my kids to put together a list of the things they want to do/places they want to go this summer. I think I was feeling some of the same "angst" you were about constantly rushing them from one "must do" to another. I am going to hang their list on the fridge so we are ready to get started when school ends. Thanks for the reminder.
Katie Ryan O'Connor June 05, 2012 at 11:37 AM
A great reminder to have fun this summer and that it need not be expensive! I love the drive-in theater recommendation, I know my kids would think that quite the amazing thing in the days of watching Netflix movies on a tablet or iPod touch.
Jodi Ireland June 14, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Love it! This is the first summer in 18 years of teaching that I'm not taking classes, teaching classes, or preparing to teach a new class. My only "plans": to play a whole lot with my 2 1/2 year old (and work on my to-do list only when he's sleeping and I'm not curled up,with a good book!).

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