Spring and Summer Activities To Keep Kids Engaged & Parents (Mostly) Stress-Free
Spring has arrived and summer is almost here, which means many kids will soon be out of school. Even if you’re planning on sending them to camp or another warm-weather activity, spring and summer are less structured than school for many children. So, unless you’ve created a full agenda of spring and summer activities to keep them occupied, you may be dealing with bored and restless kids, creating the perfect storm for added parental stress.
Being a parent or caregiver can be challenging even in the best conditions. Adults have many stressors — including time, finances, work, and relationships. Despite the fierce love you have for your children, the day-in and day-out of parenting can sometimes make you want to scream and pull your hair out. You’re not alone.
Stress can make the pressures of caring for a child overwhelming. Maybe you find yourself raising your voice more frequently, on the verge of verbal abuse, or ignoring your children. It doesn’t take much to push a parent or caregiver over the edge into abuse. When toddler tantrums or teenage rebellion threaten to bring you to the brink, a bit of advanced planning can alleviate some of that.
While there’s no such thing as a perfect parent or caregiver, there’s also no such thing as a perfect list of activities that will guarantee your kids don’t make you crazy. Much like everything else about caring for kids, some things work and others don’t. Don’t be afraid to suggest ideas; you may just discover a new passion! Activities don’t have to be expensive (some of these ideas are free), and they don’t all require your undivided attention.
To optimize your chances of occupying your children and limiting your stress, aim for activities that engage the senses and are age-appropriate. Nip boredom in the bud with low-cost and low-stress activities to keep your children engaged.
Activities To Keep Kids Occupied
A bit of pre-planning can go a long way. For example, keep a numbered list of activities on your phone and as soon as you hear that dreaded “B” word from your kid, ask them to choose a number between 1 and 52 (or however many options you have). Whatever number they pick, they do! Similarly, write all of those ideas on popsicle sticks, place them in a jar or box, and have your child choose a stick every time they’re bored. The possibilities are endless!
- Have a Picnic
Sometimes a simple change of scenery can make a difference. Take whatever food you were planning to eat, lay down a blanket or mat in the house or in the yard and dig in! There’s no need to buy anything new or wander far.
- Fly a Kite
You don’t need a fancy, expensive kite — kites from the Dollar Store will do the trick. Even if your kids don’t want to work the kite, they can enjoy watching you trying to get the kite to fly and cheering your success.
- Blow Bubbles
Who doesn’t like bubbles?! For extra fun and to save money, use one of these simple recipes to make your own bubble solution. If you want to invest in a bubble-making machine, there are multiple choices at all price points. It can save your breath plus entertain the little ones with lots and lots of continuous bubbles!
- Go on a Treasure Hunt
This one takes a bit of preparation, but can keep your kids occupied for a while. Spend a few minutes drawing a treasure map and hiding clues, and then let them loose to find a special prize. The map can be as simple or sophisticated as you want it to be.
- Play in a Sandbox
You don’t have to have a traditional sandbox for your kids to have hours of fun shifting and building in the sand. Use a flat storage container and fill it with a bag or two of play sand you can buy at a hardware store. Put the lid on it when you’re done and clean up is a breeze!
- Have a Dance Party
Set up an outdoor speaker, invite the neighbor kids if you want to, and let them pick out their favorite tunes to dance to. Not only will this buy you some time, but it will also wear the kids out! Let the good times roll!
Setting up a domino knock-down can take a lot of time. The payoff is short and sweet, but the setup can occupy attention for a while and improve your child’s dexterity.
What young child doesn’t like to play dress-up? If you already have a dress-up box filled with costumes and old clothes, pull it out and let the kids indulge! If you don’t have a dress-up box yet, it’s easy to make one quickly. Grab hats, socks, coats, purses, shoes, boots, kid glasses, costume jewelry, old dresses, Halloween costumes, jackets, and anything else you think your kids would love to try on.
- Screen Time That’s Both Fun and Informational
While no parent wants their child to spend endless hours on YouTube, there’s no question that it can keep kids entertained for hours. For example, check out the penguin cam at the San Diego Zoo, live cams at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, take a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace, or enjoy the Hogwarts digital escape room.
- Build a Fort
Building a fort is a great indoor or outdoor activity for kids that can also exercise their motor skills. All it takes is a few blankets, pillows, cardboard boxes, and chairs. Add some stuffed animals or other toys and make it a party!
Help Us End Child Abuse and Neglect
Those are just a few suggestions to keep your kids engaged this spring and summer. While it may seem like a list of kid activities doesn’t have much to do with child abuse and neglect, sometimes ideas like these can help make life less stressful.
If you’re an adult survivor of child abuse, EndCAN is always here for you with valuable resources, including information and tips about parenting, and support to help you learn and heal.
EndCAN’s survivor community support group, Louder Than Silence, through Inspire, is a free, online community of support groups where people can feel safe, be authentic while anonymously sharing their experiences, and learn from other people who have “been there.”
Don’t suffer in silence. Breaking the silence is one way we can stop child abuse. When you’re ready, share your story so other adult survivors of child abuse know they’re not alone either.