Since this weekend is the unofficial start of summer and many of your kids are already embarking upon their summer break from school (mine has two more weeks) I know as parents we are all fighting some mixed feelings. There’s a sense of adventure and a more laid back attitude that summer brings. But it also comes with having one more kid at home all day (who is too old to nap and give me a break) and sometimes balancing all of our schedules means there is some downtime to deal with that we aren’t used to. While it might be nice at first, when the newness of being home wears off there’s an antsy boredom that can set in. And while I’m fine with the occasional movie for my oldest, I’d also like to come up with some fun ways to bust us out of a summer boredom rut. I do think it is ok for kids to be allowed the time to get bored and figure out somethings they like to do. But as a work-from-home-mom with two other young children, sometimes I need some tools on hand to help as well. One is a fun summer day camp, which my oldest will be going to for part of the summer. And I thought I would round up some of my other favorite toys, games, and ways to beat summer break boredom.
We were recently gifted some Micro Kickboard Scooters for our three boys and if you follow me on IG and have watched my Instagram stories you know that scooting is all my boys want to do these days. Quincy had never sat on a ride on, Calvin had never used a scooter, and Charlie had another brand scooter that he hates and has used a total of two times in almost two years. And now I can’t get my boys off of these! They are really easy to use and are unique in the way you steer and stop them (with your feet instead of with the handle bars) that make it easier for them. Best part for me — they wear themselves out just from going up and down our paved driveway 🙂 The boys have the maxi (Charlie), the mini (Calvin), and the mini2go (Quincy) which converts from the seated ride-on to the mini when he’s ready.
Bikes + Push Cars
While scooters are all the rage in our house, my oldest also loves his balance bike. He doesn’t have a pedal bike yet because he has always preferred the stability of the balance bike (and since we live in the city we only have so much storage space for three boys and all of their things). I think we’re going to get him a pedal bike soon and pass the balance bike down to Calvin. And we have used and loved this push car for our littler ones to feel like they are taking a ride too. We’ve had the same one since Calvin was a year old and it is still working great. (you can even see it in use on Instagram here.)
And if we’re talking bike goals, my dream bike would be this one from Madsen. I love the idea of peddling all of our boys in it together for some family adventure fun. My husband can peddle it with the boys while I ride on this pretty one by myself 🙂
Board + Card Games
Charlie has (finally!) started to love playing board games — Candyland is his current favorite, but he is also a fan of Twister, Connect Four, and playing card games like Go Fish. I have this Classic Kid Card Games Set so we can learn others throughout the summer (side note, I used to LOVE Old Maid, but now I’m like “why’s it gotta be called OLD MAID!? Can we have a less misogynistic name?” But I digress…) I’m going to stock up on a couple more (I always find them cheaper on Amazon if you don’t have them already) like Charades for Kids and maybe even Harry Potter Clue (although he might be a bit young to really play this one). Does your family have any favorite board or card games?
Picnics + Outdoor Fun
Whether you have a big backyard, or walk to parks to get your green space fix, there are a few standard things that every family can use to make their outdoor time extra fun and to add a little novelty to your summer time spent outdoors. We spend a lot of time at playgrounds and we tend to get bored with that, so for summer I get a nice mat — love this one from Gathre — or an extra large towel like this Roundie from SwimZip) and keep it in the bottom of our stroller. Because eating a meal outside is way more fun than eating inside 🙂
I also get a new set of buckets and sand toys, an extra large bottle of bubbles, plus wands for each kid to have their own (to avoid fights and tantrums) and just refill them all summer. A few other things that are easily transportable so you can use them in a park or your own yard are: sidewalk chalk (love this set for lots of pieces and their anti-roll shape), soccer balls and a goal nets, a kite (although if your kids are too little this might be more frustrating than fun, but this easy flying beginner kite works pretty well to let littler ones join), a critter case (my boys could spend hours hunting for and collecting rollie pollies), and a set of outdoor (meaning we keep them outside so we can get them dirty and I don’t have to worry about the mess) construction vehicles for dirt digging.
If you have the space indoors or a nice covered area outside, a playhouse or teepee is another fun way to break up the monotony of doing the same old thing, especially if it is new! Picture your kids playing in this camper while you lounge in a hammock on your back deck with a good book and cold iced tea. Hey, a girl can dream, right!? This Palm Springs playhouse is pretty fabulous too.
Arts + Crafts
If you give my 6 year old a big sketch pad and some colored pencils, he could sit and write and draw for hours (especially since I created an art room space for him, which he loves and you can find here). But even favorite activities get old after a while. I like to mix up our “projects” routine, and Seedling is always a great go-to for fun projects. Many of their kits are a craft project and an imaginative play item in one, like this galaxy rocket cape or this design your own butterfly wings kit. And they have a Seedling Littles Collection for kids age 2-4 full of the cutest stuff, so now they can get in on the action as well.
If you don’t already have one, a chalkboard wall is another fun way to keep little ones busy. And if you rent like we do, or don’t want to commit to painting a wall, I shared how I did our no-commitment chalkboard wall here (it is so easy and worth the little effort for the amount of time they play on it!)
Finally, a few other art and craft tools for your arsenal are: play-doh, sidewalk chalk paint (for outside art play), and a fingerpaint kit (if you don’t mind mess and clean-up). You can also do something as simple as water painting: get some paint brushes and a bucket of water and let your kid go to town on your driveway or your fence. No mess!
Puzzles + Blocks
My kids all love puzzles and blocks of various sizes and degrees of difficulty, and I think it is because we have always done them even at young ages. Let the littlest ones start out with some wooden puzzles like these. Your older toddlers can help out with larger sized puzzles like these. Floor puzzles are another fun idea. And my older son now loves to do 100 piece puzzles like this one. If you help him with the edges he will sit and complete the rest all on his own, buying you at least an hour of free time!
As for blocks, my littlest ones have always loved these stacking nesting blocks and play with them forever. Lego duplo sets are great as well for the littler hands and smaller lego sets (just watch those tiny pieces if you have smaller children) for older kids. And all three of my kids absolutely love playing with magnatiles. Charlie builds really elaborate creations, Calvin creates “dinosaur houses”, and Quincy loves to stack up all the pieces according to shape and take them in and out of bins. They can be a little pricey but we have only bought one set in 6 years and not one has ever broken. They are a brilliant activity.
If you have the yard space a water table or baby pool are great fun ways to beat the heat. Going to a local pool (or swimming in your own if you’re lucky enough to have one — and invite me over if you do!) can be fun, but if you have multiple little kids like I do it is pretty much impossible to manage them all on your own near water. I do highly recommend getting a puddle jumper so that your little swimmers are safe and can be somewhat independent (although there should always still be adult supervision obvs.)
Also for those of you with a yard, this Buckets of Fun Backyard Waterpark looks like SO much fun! Again, can we come play? 🙂
Jump Around (aka Wear Em OUT)
As long as I’ve dreamed for a backyard space to call my own, I’ve dreamed of something big and bouncy for my kids to wear themselves out on. This bounce house and this trampoline are at the top of
my their lists. And if you are like us currently with no room for either, these Pogo Jumpers are a good alternative.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine love and will spend hours playing trains on train tracks (we have the set from Ikea, but this one is similar) or playing with their matchbox cars and either their tot tube or their race tracks. You can set them up anywhere: basements, bunk beds, backyards, etc. Also — it isn’t really a plane but the title worked — my kids love the stomp rocket. Tip: get the dueling one if you have multiple kids and don’t them to fight over it. And anything that keeps them busy is a-ok with me.
What are your favorite boredom busters for your kids? I’ll also be sharing a summer reading book list of ideas for your pre-k through first graders really soon! And do I even need to say “get your iPad charged up”? Yeah, I didn’t think so… May the force be with you, and me too.
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