Last Updated June 22nd, 2018

Keeping The Kids Busy When It’s Miserably Hot

Keeping The Kids Busy When It's Miserably Hot

Summer is a great time for children. School is out for most of them and it’s time to play. Running, climbing, building sand castles, swimming…

Sweating, sunburns, complaining.

It’s not easy keeping the kids busy all summer long, especially on those miserably hot days when no one wants to go outside. And while you can take advantage of summer nights to have a little more fun while it’s cool outside, that doesn’t entirely take care of those long, hot summer days. What can you do to keep them busy, short of turning the AC on full blast, driving up your electrical bill and letting them watch television or play video games all day? Plenty!

Make Cool Treats

First of all, have some cheap, cool treats on hand. Otter Pops or homemade popsicles don’t cost much. You may need to enforce a rule that they are eaten outside to limit the mess. If it’s really hot, these may only keep the kids out for a short time. Then again, they might find something fun to do outside. Sometimes getting the kids outside is half the battle.

I like to make homemade popsicles from fruit and vegetable smoothies. This way they’re a healthy snack, but the kids still adore them. They’ve even been known to have smoothie popsicles for breakfast, a fact which sometimes astonishes their friends. I wouldn’t hesitate to give a healthy smoothie for breakfast, so why not the same smoothie in popsicle form?smoothie before mixing

There are tons of smoothie recipes out there. Here’s my basic starter recipe. It varies depending on what I have available, and I really don’t measure quantities. Everything just gets thrown in.

Handful of spinach
One carrot
One banana
Celery
Single serving container plain Greek yogurt
Assorted frozen fruits to top the whole thing off
Fruit juice or preferred milk to make enough liquid for blending
Honey if needed for sweetness (to taste)
Squeeze of lemon juice to bring out flavors (to taste)

Mix the whole thing together. You can add cacao nibs, chia seeds and so forth to boost the nutritional content if you want.

If cherry season has been good, this chocolate cherry smoothie is really good as well. I have my kids pit and freeze lots of cherries whenever the price gets low enough.

Get The Kids Outside Early Or Late

Try getting the kids outside to play in the earlier and later parts of the day, when it’s cooler outside. Then you won’t feel so bad if they’re watching television in the hottest part of the day. Try to keep television watching/video game playing under two hours a day total.

If you can get your kids playing outside until about 10 a.m., the day won’t be too hot for some fun, unless it’s going to be one of those miserably hot days. If it’s already hot out, there’s nothing wrong with some early water play.

Encourage your kids to do things like ride bikes, roller skate, play tag, and so forth before the day gets too hot or after it cools down a little. Physical activity is so important, but it can be hard to get enough of it when they weather is so hot. These are also good for encouraging independence in your children.

If you all want to get out, first thing in the morning or in the evening is the perfect time for a family hike. We have hills in our area that have some very nice hikes… so long as it isn’t too hot out. Some of those trails have very little shade. Pick the right time, and it’s a pleasant way to get some exercise as a family.

water balloons

Have Lots Of Water Toys

If there’s one thing that gets kids outside even on hot days, it’s water. And while we can’t all have swimming pools, there are plenty of ways for kids to have fun with water on hot days. Be sure to remember the sunscreen!

For very young children, a water table is a lot of fun. Add in a few toys to move the water around, and they’ll be happy for a while. Some sandbox toys work great with water as well as sand.

If you have a big enough yard, a Slip n’ Slide is a lot of fun. Sprinklers are another great option, plus you get to water your lawn a little that way. You don’t have to buy the ones made for kids to play with – just about any sprinkler you own will do just fine.

Squirt guns and water balloons can be a lot of fun too. My kids have found Bunch O Balloons to be both fun and frustrating. They’re fun because they fill up so fast, but frustrating because the balloons don’t always seal up well, and tend to leak. And like most water balloons, they often bounce rather than break.

Squirt guns are a lot of fun so long as you get the right kind for your child’s age. Little kids find the larger ones too heavy, and the need to pump them up makes them too difficult. Big kids, on the other hand, rarely enjoy smaller squirt guns. They’d rather have a Super Soaker type, and the greater the range, the more fun.

Of course, if you do have a swimming pool, make sure you and your family follow all the water safety rules. So many accidents can be avoided with a little caution.

water table

Find Fun Ways To Keep The Kids Busy Indoors

Have fun things ready for them to do indoors that have nothing to do with electronics. Screen time has its place, but you don’t want it to be the only thing your kids do.

Board games work very well, depending on the ages of your kids. Choosing a board game can cause a lot of arguments, as do some games, but overall they’re a great choice. You may need to help your kids negotiate if there’s a big age or interest range, so they learn to balance these things out.

Subscription boxes for kids can be a great idea for the summer. My kids have had fun with Groovy Lab In A Box. You can do a subscription or choose single boxes to ensure you get something your kids will enjoy. Subscriptions are cheaper than single boxes, but you don’t know what you’re going to get. They’re pretty good, in my experience.

If you’re more creative, you can buy things locally or on Amazon to make your own versions of subscription boxes. Think of a theme and go for it!

I encourage my kids to pick up a new skill or improve an old one each summer. My artistically inclined kids draw or paint a lot. Using a computer drawing tablet doesn’t count as screen time since they’re working on a skill. Just about any skill will do, and it’s fun for kids to work on their own interests, rather than do whatever their school requires of them.

And of course, encourage your kids to just play with their toys. They don’t need to spend every minute doing something educational.

Sign The Kids Up For Activities

Many parents choose to enroll their kids in activities for the summer. This is good if not taken to extremes – kids need time to just be kids.

My kids do swimming lessons every summer until they hit the top level of the available classes. While they no longer have the regular pool access they had when they were younger, we never know when a friend will turn out to have a pool. It’s just safer to have all kids learn to swim, even if they won’t use that skill at home.

Check with your local community center for more activities you can sign your kids up for. Art, drama, martial arts, gymnastics, dance… the list goes on, most places. Make sure it’s something your kids want to do, so they enjoy the class.

There are a lot of free and cheap activities you can do as a family as well. Many of them don’t require any kind of signup, just show up and participate or do completely on your own.

Reading Time

Encourage your kids to spend some time each day reading for pleasure. You can take them to your local library for books, head to the bookstore, or get more books on Amazon, depending on what your kids want to read.

My youngest loves the Warrior Cats series, for example. She will run out of books in that series eventually, but for now, it has gotten my very reluctant reader to enjoy reading.

Your local library may have a summer reading challenge as well as summer activities your kids will enjoy. Earning a prize for reading is just one more incentive.

Don’t force your kids to read something they don’t want to read over the summer. Help them find something they will enjoy, whether it’s novels or comic books. They’ll have plenty of assigned reading from their schools as they grow. Of course, if your child’s school assigns summer reading, make sure they take care of that too.

Be Ready For Grumbles

Of course, just because the kids are complaining that it’s too hot outside doesn’t mean you have to give in and let them play inside. In many cases, it isn’t that it’s too hot to play outside, it’s that your kids are bored.

That’s why you need to have a lot of things for your kids to do. Don’t give your kids ideas for what to do every time… it’s better for them to learn to figure that out on their own as they get older. If they have options available, they will figure it out. Or you can always assign them chores. Whatever works.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 8th, 2018

Summer Night Activities To Make Your Summer Amazing

Summer Night Activities To Make Your Summer Amazing

How difficult is it for you to get your family out and doing things during the summer? It’s just so hot out! You have to worry about sunburn or even heatstroke if the day is hot enough. That’s why I’m so fond of summer night activities.

Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the night. Summer nights are generally warm, and it’s just such a relief after the heat of the day to get outside and do something! Get away from all the devices as a family and go have some fun. But where?

Take a look and see if there are any places in your area that have special summer night activities. Most communities have something going on.

Planning fun family activities for summer nights can even help you be more productive when you work at home during the summer. The promise of something fun to do later can encourage your kids to let your work during the day.

Try The Zoo

Many zoos are open at night during the summer. The animals are very different at night. Nocturnal animals are so much more active! It’s a lot of fun, and no one complains that the sun is too hot on them at night.

We start in the late afternoon when we go to the zoo during the summer. Mostly that’s because it’s always the San Diego Zoo, and it takes so long to see everything there. But it’s also because it’s fun seeing things change as the sun goes down. We have passes, so it’s not like we have to worry about getting out money’s worth for the day.

I strongly recommend getting zoo passes when you have kids. The zoo is a great place to get out with your kids anytime. Try it on a rainy day sometime too.

Backyard Camping

Camp out in your backyard. Many nights it can be more comfortable to sleep outside in the tent than in the house, which is still retaining heat from the day.

Once your kids are old enough, you can consider allowing them to camp in the backyard without you. Kids love that little bit of independence, yet they’re close enough to get you if they need anything. So long as they aren’t noisy enough to bother the neighbors, you don’t have to worry about bedtime when they camp in the backyard.

Don’t be surprised if the kids need to sleep a little during the day after a backyard campout. You know how early the sun comes up during the summer, and they probably tried to stay up late. They’re tired.

camping

Take A Camping Trip

Alternatively, try a one night camping trip at a local campground. Roast marshmallows around the campfire, tell stories and just relax. Don’t forget to leave a little time for a family hike during the day.

Some campgrounds also offer night hikes. You don’t want to hike anywhere you might get lost at night, but clearly defined trails will usually be safe enough so long as you stay on them.

telescope

Stargazing

Go stargazing. Whether you look at the stars from your own backyard or drive out to someplace a little darker, children love to look at the stars.

Help your kids identify the constellations. SkyView is a great app that can help you identify what you’re seeing in the sky. You can also use gadgets such as the Night Sky Navigator to find different stars and constellations.

If you have a telescope, set it up and start looking for interesting objects in the sky. Jupiter and Saturn can be pretty easy to find when they’re up. The moon can be amazing, but very bright through a telescope. Depending on your telescope, you may be able to get a look at nebulas and other interesting things.

If you don’t have a telescope, you can use binoculars to look at the moon. Binoculars aren’t steady enough or strong enough for most other objects, but the moon can be interesting through them.

Another alternative if you don’t have a telescope is to head out to a local planetarium or see if a local amateur astronomers’ club has a night when they do stargazing with the public. You can talk to some very knowledgeable people that way and see things you might not have known to look for.

Don’t forget to look for shooting stars. If you want the best luck, head to a dark place on the night of a meteor shower. The Perseids are most active in August, but they start in late July.

Movies At The Park Or Your Backyard

My kids love that our community does Movies At The Park every summer. It’s a wonderful chance to go to the park, play with some friends and then watch a movie. We get there at least an hour early so we get a good spot on the grass and so the kids can play at the playground.

Movies At The Park is one of my favorite summer playdate ideas. I tell all the moms I know that we will be there most weeks and the kids would love to see their friends to play. No one has to clean their house for company or deal with their house being messed up after. If no one shows up, it’s still a pretty good time.

You can even bring dinner and have a picnic at the park. We do this some of the time, but in the early summer especially, the movies start so late that dinner at home makes as much sense as dinner at the park, and much less trouble at the end of the night.

You can also set up movies in your backyard if you have the equipment. Video projectors can be very reasonably priced, and then you need a light colored, reasonably smooth wall or a white sheet to project the image onto. Some models are less than $100. You can watch the movies of your choice from your collection or subscriptions in your backyard whenever you want this way.

summer concerts

Outdoor Concerts

Many communities not only do movie nights in their parks, they offer outdoor concerts during the summer at night as well. Take a look at your community pages to see what kind of events are available in your area, and which concerts you would like to attend.

Outdoor concerts aren’t at night everywhere, but it’s so nice when they are. It’s much more pleasant to sit and listen when the sun isn’t beating down on you.

sunset

Watch The Sunset

Head out to the best place in your area to watch the sunset. We see them pretty well even in our front yard, but there are better places to watch a sunset. There’s a park in our area that overlooks the entire town that is great for sunsets.

Change up where you watch the sunset occasionally. It can be a part of a family adventure while doing something else to catch a great view of the sunset.

Play With Glow In The Dark Toys

Glow in the dark toys offer so many possibilities for summer night activities. It can all start with those glow in the dark necklaces that kids love and you can often find in the dollar store, but you can do so much more.

Glow in the dark frisbees are fun if you have enough room to throw them. It can be frustrating to lose one on the roof, which is why I always prefer that my kids use them at the park.

You can buy glow in the dark soccer balls, golf balls, basketballs and so much more to make any sports you like more fun at night. Some will use LEDs while others will be true glow in the dark items.

You can even make your own games, such as glow in the dark bowling. It’s super easy to set up at home.

Kids may also enjoy glow in the dark body paint. Most glow in the dark body paint requires the use of a blacklight, which could make an interesting addition to flashlight tag.

Flashlight Tag

Flashlight tag is an easy game to play. It’s much like hide and go seek, as the person who is It must first count to whatever number while the other players hide. They then try to catch other players in the light of a flashlight.

Flashlight tag is best if there’s a reasonably large area for people to hide. You don’t want the space so big that people get really lost, but you also don’t want it so small that there aren’t enough interesting hiding places to make the game a challenge.

Laser Tag

Laser tag is a great game to play at night, and if your kids enjoy it enough you can save a lot of money buying your own set of laser tag equipment rather than going to the arena every time. Make sure you read the reviews to ensure that you get equipment that is worth the cost. Some of the cheap sets don’t last very long.

If you can, give the kids a large area with some hiding spots to make their laser tag game more interesting. It much more fun if you can duck behind something to catch someone else off guard.

The one problem may be that some sets are noisy. Be sure that you don’t play laser tag too late at night if other people in your neighborhood can hear you.

barbecue

Make Dinner Outside

There’s a reason why barbecuing is so popular in the summer – no one wants to heat up their house by cooking indoors if they can help it. Well, that and because most people love barbecued food.

Shishkebabs can be a lot of fun, especially if you have picky eaters. Set up the ingredients so everyone can set up their own shishkebabs with the food they like. Make sure everyone washes their hands after handling raw meats, of course.

Don’t forget dessert when you make dinner outside. Keep those coals warm, and the kids can make traditional desserts such as s’mores, or have a little extra fun making campfire cones.

Picnic Dinner

Just because you made dinner in the house doesn’t mean you have to eat dinner in the house. Grab that food and have a picnic outside. If you choose the right time, the evening breeze feels wonderful.

You don’t have to go anywhere special to have a picnic dinner. Your backyard is good enough. If you’re feeling more ambitious, however, or just need to get away from the house that badly, move the picnic to the park. Having dinner and letting your kids play on the playground is a great way to let them get out that energy at the end of the day. Pay attention to local park rules, of course. Some close at dusk.

Sit Around The Firepit

Even if you don’t cook dinner in the barbecue, you can always set up a firepit to sit around on summer nights. They’re a great place to sit and talk while enjoying the night air, the stars, and maybe some marshmallows.

Make Treats

You don’t have to go outside to have fun. Stay indoors, open all the windows to let in the breeze, and start making cookies! You can let each child pick a recipe or so, depending on how many cookies you want to make.

Ice cream is another fun treat to make, especially if the night is warm. Pick a recipe and start up your ice cream maker. Or be lazy and get ice cream at the store. Either way, make it even more fun for everyone by setting up a topping bar. You probably can’t set up the range of treats the local frozen yogurt place has, but you can make it interesting enough.

Of course, you can always make treats around a campfire too.

Tell Stories

Whether you sit around a fire or you’re sitting around however you like, summer nights are a great time to tell stories. Scary stories are traditional, but you can also read books to your kids or make up something fun.

Make sure you have your kids tell stories too, whether they read a book out loud or make something up all their own. It’s a great way to encourage their creativity over the summer.

Night Swimming

I loved going swimming at night when I was a kid, the rare occasion that I had access to a swimming pool. It’s the perfect way to handle an overly warm summer night.

If you want to make it even more fun, get some glow in the dark pool toys.  The lights look amazing in and on top of the water, and kids love anything glow in the dark.

Catch Fireflies

If you live in an area that has fireflies, odds are that your kids will love catching fireflies. They’re a lot of fun to look at as they fly around, or get a closer look while they’re in a bottle. Let them go when you’re done, of course.

fireworks

Watch Fireworks

In some areas, the only chance you’ll have all summer to watch fireworks is the Fourth of July. In other areas, there may be places that have fireworks often throughout the summer.

If you live near a theme park, for example, some of them shoot off fireworks most summer nights. It can be pretty easy to watch the fireworks from outside the park. It won’t be quite as spectacular as the view in the park, but it can be a good show regardless.

If they’re legal in your area, you can do fireworks on your own, of course. Be sure you use proper safety precautions and watch the children carefully. There’s a risk of injury with any kind of fireworks that you and your family must be aware of. You don’t want to add to the statistics on fireworks injuries or start a fire.

Take A Walk

It may be too hot to take a walk during the day, but that shouldn’t keep you from taking a walk in a safe area at night. Night is the perfect time to take your dog for a walk during the summer – no worries about burnt paws after the sun goes down.

Take appropriate safety precautions of course. Have a flashlight and your cell phone with you, and it’s generally safer and more fun to walk in a group.

Of course, not all your summer activities with your kids have to be done at night. Don’t forget to consider these free or cheap summer activities to make this a great summer for your family.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 10th, 2017

Are You Overparenting?

Are You Overparenting?

As parents, it’s tempting to give our kids the best of everything. There are so many activities you can sign your kids up for, sports, academics, and all kinds of interests. It’s nice when you can give your kids the things you wish you had when you were a kid.

This can turn into overparenting.

You’re overparenting when you spend so much time running from kid activity to kid activity that you have no time to do other things. Your kids don’t have time to just be themselves, and it’s hard to get them together with friends, because everyone is always at an activity.

Take a look at what your kids do. Do they have time for themselves or are they always in some sort of formal activity? Think back to your own childhood. Maybe that was how you were raised or maybe you had lots of free time to be yourself.

Free time to themselves is one of the gifts you can give your children. They need to know how to entertain themselves. There is nothing wrong with letting your kids play in the backyard or even in the front yard if they’re old enough and the neighborhood is appropriate.

How Many Activities?

It can be hard deciding how many activities are right for your child. Some of it depends on your family and your routines. If you’re running out of time to just relax as a family, you might have too many activities going on.

This isn’t always a bad thing. Kids in theater, for example, are going to have times where all their free time is eaten up by rehearsals and such. Sports can get intense too. If you can break up those times so that between plays your kids have time to be with friends and just relax, those utterly swamped times can be balanced out somewhat.

During the school year, you need to make sure that kids have enough time for homework and downtime. My kids’ school offers a lot of clubs, even at the elementary level, so I tell them they can sign up for no more than one or two. If one is high demand, I’d suggest sticking with just the one.

I do the same for summer, even though there’s more free time. Some things I insist upon – all my kids have taken swimming lessons until they complete all the levels available locally. It’s not a guarantee of pool safety, but it means they know what they’re doing in a pool.

The number also depends on how many kids you have and how far apart activities are. I love the clubs my kids do at school because that means they just stay late. I don’t have to drive them anywhere for most clubs unless there’s a competition.

If you have to drive all over town for various activities for different kids, you will need to keep more careful control over how many activities you let the sign up for. This isn’t just about kids having fun, it’s about parents not being overwhelmed or exhausted.

But My Kids Love Their Activities!

I would certainly hope your kids love their extracurricular activities! You should sign them up for things they want to learn or do when you can, after considering the time and financial requirements.

There comes a time when parents need to tell their kids “no.” It can be about the money. It can be because you didn’t like the time it took from your day. It can be because your kids complained about not having time for friends the last time you signed them up for the activity.

If they really love the activity and it’s reasonable for your family to allow your kids to do an activity a lot, go for it. So long as you take their needs into consideration along with everyone else’s (including you!), it’s not a completely bad thing to let your kids do an activity even when it makes doing other things difficult. Just be sure everyone is on board with the sacrifice required.girl in dress and mask

Activities have value for kids. They’re fun. They learn things they want to do. If you can afford the time and money, I think signing your kids up for some activities is a very good thing. But they shouldn’t be the only thing your kids do with their spare time. Give them time to get silly on their own.

But They’ll Get Bored!

Yes. Yes, they will. That’s a good thing.

Kids should get bored sometimes. That’s how they learn to cope with boredom. If you’re too concerned about it, you can always tell them to go clean their rooms – my kids get quickly un-bored when I make that suggestion.

Remember that if your kids are used to being entertained by other activities, they won’t be able to come up with their own ideas for something to do so easily. That means when they are between activities, you are a lot more likely to get the “Mom, I’m bored!” complaint. A child who is used to playing games, being creative or even just sitting and reading doesn’t get bored quite as easily. Yes, you will still hear the classic complaint, but your child will be more ready to handle quiet times themselves.

Don’t protect them too much from failure either. Let them suffer consequences as necessary. Kids really aren’t as fragile as many parents think. My oldest daughter used to get so mad at me when I told her to do something herself when she’s insisted that she couldn’t. I’m not talking about tying her shoes… that one takes time and practice, and is often frustrating for all concerned.

I’m talking about days when she wanted me to draw a circle for her because she didn’t think she could, or rather, didn’t want to. The frustration was very good for her. How fast would she learn to draw circles if I did all of them for her? She draws quite a bit more than circles now and wants to be an animator. She still gets frustrated, but that comes more from being her own worst critic, something most of us understand.

Let your children suffer frustration, fail at tasks they are trying to learn. Let them be embarrassed sometimes. Children get over these problems more easily if they are familiar. You know that as an adult you fail sometimes, get frustrated and even get embarrassed. You learned to deal with that as a child. Do your children the same favor. Don’t make their lives too easy or overly managed.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 28th, 2013

What To Do When Your Child Wants To Sign Up For Too Many Activities

What To Do When Your Child Wants to Sign Up For Too Many Activities

I’ve always tried to put limits on how many activities my kids sign up for at one time. Too many activities means too little time for other things. Too much running around for the parents too, potentially. But what if your child really, really wants to do more than you think is a good idea? Is an immediate “no” the right answer? How many activities are too many?

This has come about because my son has expressed an interest in three activities outside of school this year: soccer, running club, Lego club. All good activities, and he did the first two last year. The last two activities are both at the school after school, and don’t require a lot of my time most of the time, although Lego club may involve going to competitions. The soccer takes a lot of my time, but I knew that already, even if we did sign up for it before I knew quite how overloaded this school year would be.

It’s all great stuff, but I’ve always kept my kids to no more than two activities outside of school during the school year at a time. I’ve never liked overscheduling kids because they need time to just be kids, but in this case it’s my son wanting to do more, not me pushing him. If he believes he can handle it, I’m inclined to let him try.

Consider the Impact on School Work

First and foremost come the rules about school work. My husband and I decided our son can sign up for each of these activities, but he must be prepared to drop at least one if grades become an issue. Odds are that would be running club first, as it’s the only one that doesn’t involved being on a team. I don’t like making my kids leave a team that is in part counting on them because it’s not fair to the other kids. Bad enough school work would make that happen, of course, but I don’t expect that.

The good part is that only the running club and Lego club run the whole school year. If things are too much, we don’t have to sign up for soccer again in the spring, and that’s one activity down… or rather two practices each week and a Saturday game down.

Discuss how much later this may mean your child has to work on homework, and how much less time to play with friends. Also consider what happens when a big assignment comes around. Plan ahead so your child knows what will happen if they start running out of time to finish homework before bedtime due to activities.

Make Sure the Activities Are Compatible

Most especially make sure activities won’t overlap too much. Soccer has started already, while the other activities haven’t. There may be issues if Lego club wants to meet too long on the same days as soccer practice. Running club isn’t a big deal because the kids just show up on the days they want to run; it’s about individual achievement.

But can you imagine the problems if Lego club meetings run too long on a soccer day?

It’s entirely possible that this whole thing will be a nonissue once club schedules come out. If the time between activities is likely to be too little for homework, he won’t be able to do it.

Decide If You’re Comfortable With What’s Being Asked of You

It’s not all about what your child wants to do – you get to decide if you’re up for any extra obligations the activity may put on you. I’m not a big fan of feeling like my children’s chauffeur, especially not this year when the school is asking a lot of me, and I have my youngest in a parent participation preschool.

Fortunately, the extra activities are at school, and so shouldn’t require much at all of me. That’s great for my son, as being asked to drive all over town for still more activities probably would have meant a fast “no.”

Plan For Disaster

So you go ahead and let your child go for it and do more activities. Then his grades drop. Now what?

Our plan is that if things don’t go well with school work, activities will be dropped. Probably running club first, as it’s not a team and can even be added in later if things change. Team based clubs go last, and which will go depends on which is most the problem. As I said before, soccer ends before the others, so if there’s an issue with it, it will take care of itself in fairly short order. That’s good because soccer is huge around here, and this is the year that my son starts the more competitive levels.

Plan For the Best

On the other hand, things may go great. Your child may learn to manage his time well with a lot of commitments. That’s a wonderful lesson.

Even if things are going well with school, you may have to help with finding time to relax. Hopefully the activities are a kind of time with friends, but what about just fun time with friends, just being kids? Try to help your child have time for that too.

It’s a bit of a risk letting your child do more activities than you have allowed in the past, but it can be a good thing. Take a good look at the activities and your child and decide if it’s right for your family.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 9th, 2008

Do You Give Your Kids the Freedom to be Kids?

It’s summer. Time to sign the kids up for a bunch of activities so that they won’t get bored, right?

muddy fun

Maybe. To an extent, perhaps.

Or maybe it’s better to give them some time to be kids. For having fun on their own terms. And yes, to be bored.

I’m not entirely against signing kids up for activities. I’m for limiting them. That’s because I don’t think children need to grow up having someone else always directing them in what they should be doing.

I certainly don’t blame kids for getting bored when they’re told to get out and play. Too many have too few chances to do just that. Most parents today are far more protective than our own parents were of us. My mother considers me to be much too protective at times. Yet I give my kids more freedom than many other parents I know.

One of my favorite things to do is to tell my kids to just go out to the back yard and play. They may grumble, but they’ll do it. And they’ll generally be having a blast in a fairly short amount of time. All I have to do is sit back and keep an ear open for the occasional screams. Meanwhile they’re finding bugs, nibbling as allowed in the garden, digging, getting utterly filthy and having fun.

If you don’t have a fenced in back yard and your kids are too young to play in unfenced areas unsupervised you do still have options. You can go with them and just lightly supervise. No hovering. Encourage the kids to settle their own arguments. Tell them to decide for themselves what is fun.

You’ll have to keep a closer eye if there’s a body of water nearby, of course, or other hazards, but children can play more or less independently even if you’re watching them. You just have to not join in each and every time. Play with them some of the time, of course, but encourage your kids to take the lead and to not always need you to play in order to have fun.

Just think about the things you remember most about growing up. Was it the classes you took, the activities you signed up for? Or was it the stuff you did on your own?

Chances are, it’s a combination. There may have been some classes or activities that really were that special to you, but doing things all on your own is probably a big part of your favorite childhood memories. No pressure, just time to be you.

And that is why I say some activities are fine. They can give kids the memories we want them to have. But the most memorable times are still likely to be just general fun things they did on their own or with friends.

Stop listening to all the people talking about all the activities their kids are in. Plan any activities based on what will work for your family, not on competition with other parents. Let your child learn what it is to win, to lose, to be creative, to get hurt at least a little, to be independent, to get so dirty you immediately throw him or her in the bath, to explore and to just be a kid.

Trust me, they’ll enjoy it. You probably will too.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.