Many people are feeling pretty cooped up right now. Many of the usual summer activities are either unavailable or unsafe and while you want to get out of the house, you also want to do it in a way that is socially responsible—especially where your kids are involved.
While you may want to avoid visiting water parks or summer camps right now, you can still go outside and have summer fun with your family. Here are 9 things you can do that include lots of sunshine and fresh air.
Do a Neighborhood or Backyard “Scavenger Hunt”
This one requires a little bit of pre-planning, but it can be a great way to engage your kids on a walk, or even just get them out in the yard. The best thing about it is that after you put the activity together, you don’t have to do many extra things. It is a low-key activity that only requires a little bit of preparation.
Think of some things that you might see on a neighborhood walk. Some examples are a dog, a purple flower, a certain neighbor, or a specific color of car or house. You can make it more detailed for older children and simpler (using images) for younger children. It makes walks a little bit more exciting for everyone involved as you compete to see who will see all of the items first.
Take a Nature Walk
A simple way to have a fun family day outside is to go on a nature walk. If your local parks or hiking trails are open, you can take a socially-distanced walk and explore nature near your home. Bugs, fish, lizards, and birds are everywhere, and you can also talk about different plants and trees you see. You don’t have to be an expert—if your child asks a question you don’t know the answer to, help them look it up when you get home! If you get excited about what you see, chances are your children will too.
Sidewalk chalk is not new, but it has been a childhood staple for many years for a reason. Simple, colorful, and fun, drawing with chalk on your cement patio, driveway, or front sidewalk is a great way to spend a couple of hours with your kids. Drawing pictures is a lot of fun, but you can also write nice messages for the postal worker or your neighbors, play games of hopscotch or tic-tac-toe, or even do body outlines—have you kid lie down in a pose, and trace them. For some reason, kids love seeing their outline.
If you have an artistically inclined child, encouraging them to try nature photography can be an engaging way to spend some time outside. You can even get a couple of cheap disposable cameras and learn how to take pictures that don’t offer immediate gratification.
If your child is old enough and is interested in photography, you can do a fun project like making a pinhole camera out of a cardboard box. You’ll need a few supplies, but it can be a nice way to encourage your child to explore their hobby and continue to take pictures outside.
Take Inside Activities Outside
Sometimes you just need to get out of the house and breathe. A nice way to do that as a family is to move your activities into the backyard. You can do arts and crafts on the patio, or play board games at an outdoor table.
Another fun indoor activity to do outdoors is having lunch or dinner. Make it a picnic and set up a blanket to sit on so you can enjoy your meal in a brand new way. Sometimes shaking things up just a little bit will make you feel less stir crazy. If the blanket seems too messy, set up a table and chairs outside, or use a patio table for a little change in scenery while you eat.
Camp in the Backyard
A lot of families are missing their summer camping trips this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely go without it. Set up some camping activities in the backyard and spend the whole day outside. Set up your tent or make one out of blankets, and go on a neighborhood “hike,” have hotdogs for dinner and s'mores for dessert. If you have trees in the yard, hammocks are a good investment to get your kids excited to go outside a little more. They're quick to set up and lots of fun.
You can make it all even more exciting by spending the night in the backyard. Telling campfire stories, singing songs, and falling asleep to the sound of crickets will give you and your family a break from the monotony and make memories for years to come.
Both children and adults can probably benefit from working out some extra energy right now. Get your sillies out by jumping on your bikes or grabbing a soccer ball and getting outside.
If you don’t have sports equipment you can still get active. Older kids might appreciate going on an easy jog or run with you in the mornings before it gets too hot, and for younger kids playing tag or red-light / green-light is a simple way to release some pent up energy and bond while you do it.
Make it a Habit
If you are met with resistance when trying to get your family outside, make it a daily activity. You can start small, throwing the ball for the dog for 10 minutes or going for a walk around the block. Gently engage them with some of the activities mentioned above. As time goes on, everyone will get used to their daily outside time, and even begin to appreciate it.
The best thing about spending time with your family outdoors is that it doesn't have to be complicated. Right now, a lot of people aren't feeling up to putting lots of planning and effort into their activities, and that is okay! Structured outside time can be helpful if your children need some convincing that outside can be fun, but spending time as a family is always a positive and fun activity, whether you are backyard camping, playing catch, or relaxing on the grass.