Summer is just around the corner! Wow that came up fast! Here are some suggestions for activities around the house and in your neighbourhood that you and your kids can do together while they’re off school.
“Summer is a great time for community involvement, and organizing neighbourhood activities not only keeps kids busy and productive, it creates connection and community,” says Supna Shah, an authority on parenting, the founder of WeGo kids and a mother of triplets herself.
She shares her top three ideas for summer projects you can do with your kids.
1. Neighbourhood Picnic
“Have the kids in the neighbourhood plan a community picnic,” Shah suggests. “Their responsibilities include everything from picking the day/time, location, decor, activities and dessert. Every family brings their own picnic basket.”
2. Redesign a room in the house
“Ask the kids which room in the house they would like to redesign,” Shah says. “Maybe they’d like to make the family room more kid-friendly, or repurpose part of the garage for a play area. Have them draw out a design, come up with a budget, a list of items they want to repurpose in the house, and then let them have some fun.”
3. Offer a public service
“For some Earth-friendly activities, have the kids organize a community clean-up; depending on the ages, they can walk around together in the neighbourhood picking up garbage, trimming hedges,” Shah says. “Another one is a free car wash for neighbours; the kids set up a day/time and put up signs, and then let them have some fun! Donations can be used for a trip to the movies or whatever the kids decide.”
4. Hold a garage sale
Tips 4 through 8 come from Pam Lobley, author of Why Can't We Just Play? What I Did When I Realized My Kids Were Way Too Busy.
“We all have too much stuff,” Lobley says. “Get your kids to clean out their rooms and decide what toys or items they might want to sell. Also check the basement, attic, and garage. Enlist the kids to help pick the date, put up signs around town and price the items. Depending on their age, they might be the cashier on the day of the sale. Learning to declutter and getting an understanding of how to earn a little money are great benefits to a garage sale.”
5. Stain the fence or paint the garage
“Most likely, you have some backyard project that needs doing. Why not involve the kids?” Lobley says. “Making it a family project lets the kids acquire new skills and allows them to feel the pride and ownership when the task is complete.”
However, she notes, “yes, parents need patience for this! But the irritation you feel when your kid gets paint all over himself – or you – will be worth it. The bonding and camaraderie that is created during a project like this yields great memories.”
6. Embrace yard work
“Teach your kids how to use a lawnmower, a weed wacker, a leaf blower. Not only can they work in your yard, they can scout the neighbourhood for work. Cutting lawns is a great way for tweens/teens to make money,” Lobley explains.
7. Plant milkweed
“Monarch butterflies are endangered and will only feed and lay eggs on common milkweed plants,” says Lobley. “You can plant them in your yard (they are pretty!) and care for whatever caterpillars and cocoons show up. When the butterflies land to feed, you can practise photography skills with your kids and take really cool pictures. It’s a beautiful way to spend an hour on a summer afternoon.”
8. Curb shop
“This is the most fun ever!” Lobley says. “If, when driving around town, you see an item at the curb that someone has set out for trash, think about it. Would it be useful in your home (wicker porch chair, bar cart, end tables)? Pull over and load it into your car. The kids love this – it feels like stealing, but it’s not! You can paint or otherwise redo the item for you kids’ rooms or the patio. If this doesn’t sound fun to you, you haven’t tried it.”