Last Updated December 10th, 2018

How To Work At Home With Kids: An Age By Age Guide

How to work at home with kids

Having kids is a major reason for people to decide to work at home. The idea of always being there for your kids and seeing them learn new things is so appealing. But the reality isn’t so pretty for most families. It’s hard to work at home with kids.

How you handle the issues that come from working at home with kids changes as the kids grow. Babies and toddlers will do very different things to your work schedules than teens will.

Work At Home With Kids: All Ages

Some things are true about being a work at home mom or dad no matter the age of your kids. The precise details may change, but the overall needs are about the same.

family hands

Get Help As Needed

I’ll give my number one piece of advice that works for all ages first: Get help when you need it!!

This may mean putting your kids in daycare or getting a mother’s helper or having your spouse help more than they have been. You may also be able to arrange a swap with other parents of young children.

If taking care of your kids is taking too much of your time that you could use to earn money from home, you need help.

Get it.

You may even need some help when your kids are in school or hit the teen years. Getting kids to and from school can eat up a lot of your time. You may also find that you need help if any of your kids struggle academically. It’s not easy to tutor your kids in a subject you don’t remember well yourself.

Flexible Schedules Are Best

The other thing you want to make working at home with kids much easier is a flexible schedule. There are few stages as kids grow up that a 9-5 schedule will work well for you. Most of the time, you want a flexible schedule if you’re going to work at home.

With babies and younger children, their needs are too unpredictable. There’s no way to set up a schedule that will work with their needs. They change too often.

But even when kids go off to school, a flexible schedule is best. How often do you think you will need to pick a sick kid up from school? What about minimum days? And they are going to want to have friends over to play sometimes!

All these things will mess with normal schedules. But if your job or home business allow you to be more flexible, these things won’t be as big a deal. You should be able to switch your schedule to handle such issues.

It also helps to have a list of quick things you can do when you know you’re going to be interrupted. There will be times when you know you have just a few minutes to yourself, and you can make those precious few minutes productive if you plan for it.

Eat Meals Together

As much as possible, eat meals with your kids. You need the break from work and they need your attention.

You don’t have to be the perfect family who eats every meal at the table, but do make sure you take the time to talk with each other during meals. This will be a great way to keep up with what your kids are doing as they get older. Start young and it will be a lifelong habit.

Be Fully Present

Whether you’re working in your home office or playing with your kids, put all your focus on that thing as much as possible. Be fully present for your kids and for your work.

What this means is that when it’s time to play with the kids, you aren’t thinking about work. You’re playing with the kids. Ignore the phone and don’t even think about peeking at your email or social media.

Depending on the age of your kids, it can be more difficult to focus fully on your work, but do the best you can. The more focused you are on your work, the more productive you will be.

Take Time Off Work For Special Things

Kids have a lot of special events in their lives. Some may not seem like that big a deal to you, but they mean plenty to your kids.

Go on field trips with their class when the teacher needs more chaperones. Go to their games if they play sports. Pay attention when they announce that they want to put on a performance for you in the living room.

You can also make special moments. They don’t have to cost a lot, either. Sure, a vacation to Disneyland will excite just about any child, but so will a quick trip to the park, a trip to the beach, or a family hike, depending on the age of the kids.

work at home with baby

Work At Home With Babies

Babies can be both the easiest and the hardest to deal with when you work at home.

They’re easy when they sleep a lot. They’re the hardest to deal with when they don’t.

You never know in advance what your baby will be like. Some work at home parents will have babies with special needs who take up more time than other babies. Other babies sleep less than average and make it challenging to have a productive work at home day.

There are some basics for working at home with babies:

Pick The Right Work Schedule

Most sites I see tell work at home moms and dads that they should get up early to get some work done before the kids are up. That never worked for me – I’m a night owl. So I’ll tell you to pick the right work at home schedule for your needs.

If you’re good at waking up early, great. Do that.

If you’re a night owl, stay up late to work.

I promise you that either way there will be times that it takes a ton of self control to get any work done because you’re exhausted. Maybe you were up half the night because baby was teething. Maybe you’re tired at the end of a long day with a demanding infant.

Either way, if you want this work at home with kids things to work for you, you have to push through and get your work done. Sometimes you will have to tough it out and make things happen because that’s the only way it’s going to happen.

Rest When You Can

The advice to sleep when the baby sleeps is great when you don’t have anything else to do. When you work at home, it may not be such great advice. That time when the baby is sleeping may be your best shot at getting something done without interruptions.

Make time to get what rest you can, however, especially in the early days when baby needs more frequent feedings. If you’re the mom and you’re recovering from childbirth, you need that time to let your body recover, no matter what.

This isn’t always easy, and it’s one of the big times that you should ask for help if you need it. Too little rest only makes things harder over time. Do your best to find a way to get some rest.

This can mean letting some of the housework go. I don’t mean let your home deteriorate into an unlivable, unsanitary disaster area. But many household chores can be delayed for a time or assigned to your spouse or an older child. You don’t have to do it all yourself.

Take Care Of Yourself

Ah, those lovely days with your newborn baby that so many people have an image of. Too bad the fantasy isn’t much like reality.

It can be difficult as a new work at home mom or dad to take proper care of yourself. There are days that even finding time for a shower may be difficult, never mind eating a decent meal.

The great thing about babies is that you don’t have to be focused on them every minute that they’re awake. You can do other things while they’re awake.

Make sure baby is safe, of course.

Set up a safe place for your baby for those times you need to take care of yourself. Some parents will set up a baby swing in the bathroom when they need to shower, so that the baby is safe but they can get cleaned up for the day.

If you’re making food for yourself, find a place where you can see the baby, but they won’t be in your way as you prepare a meal. A playpen can be great for those times that you need to be out of the room to get things done.

Work While Baby Eats (If Possible)

I was fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed all my kids, and I can tell you that it was wonderful when it came time to work. All I had to do was sit at my computer and type while the baby nursed. Sure, my typing was a little slower, but it wasn’t that bad.

It probably also won’t be that great an idea if your baby tends to spit up a lot. Can’t have that get into the computer!

This is more difficult if baby is bottle fed, of course. Bottle feeding isn’t exactly a handsfree process. And it gets worse as solid foods are introduced, which is waaaay too messy to do near a computer.

But if things go well with breastfeeding, it’s a huge help.

Try Babywearing

Babywearing is absolutely amazing for being productive with a young baby. They get to be right with you, which is what they want, and you get to work. Baby can nap or listen to your voice as the day goes on.

Babies love to be held. There’s a reason why so many scream when you put them down – they want you! There’s even a study that shows that babywearing decreases crying. That alone should be plenty of reason to try babywearing – hearing a baby cry is stressful.

Don’t forget that babywearing is for both parents.

reading with baby

Work At Home With Toddlers And Preschoolers

Toddlers can be far more demanding of your time than infants in some ways. They want you to play with them all the time! On the other hand, they should sleep better at night and still take pretty good naps during the day, which gives you some clear work time.

On the plus side, they’re learning how to entertain themselves, and this is something you can encourage. Toddlers and preschoolers are also more fun for older siblings, although you’ll still worry when the kids get suspiciously quiet.

Encourage Independent Play

While you can’t leave your toddler or preschooler completely unsupervised, they can learn how to play independently; that is, without your direct participation.

Start figuring out the things they like to do on their own. Which toys are best for this will depend on the child, of course.

Set Up A Play Area By Your Desk

Toddlers and preschoolers love to imitate their parents. If you want work time, you’ll encourage this by setting up a play area right by your desk. Include a small table so your child has their own desk. This is great for those times when they need to be near you but you need to work.

Include things that are similar to things you use. My kids had the use of an old keyboard when they were little. They could pound on it all they wanted.

Crayons and other art supplies that don’t make too much of a mess are also good choices. Keep things organized so they don’t mess up your home office.

For those times that you’re willing to allow screens, you can also include a toy computer or kid safe tablet. Your work time can be educational for your kids.

Obviously, you don’t want your kids just staring at a screen while you work, which is why you should include other toys as well.

Change the toys available to your kids regularly. Toddlers and preschoolers love “new” toys, but a toy can become new again to them if they haven’t played with it for a while.

Make The Most Of Naptime

Toddlers and preschoolers don’t take as many naps as infants, but they can still take some nice, long naps when they’re tired. They also usually sleep better at night.

Make the most of it.

As often as possible, work when your toddler or preschooler naps. Don’t do housework or other things that you can do when your child is awake. Toddlers and preschoolers often like helping with chores, so save those for when they’re awake. Chores take longer with little kids “helping,” but the lessons learned are worth it eventually.

mom at computer

Work At Home With Kids In School

Working at home gets so much easier as the kids head off to school. Suddenly you have fewer interruptions during the day. Things may be a little worse during the time that the youngest sibling has to stare at the older ones heading off to school, as the youngest will be lonely for them during school hours. But once they’re all in school, you’ll have a much easier time working at home.

Do less focused work when the kids are doing homework. This makes it easier for you to stop and help them when needed.

Have a plan for sick days. Kids bring home all kinds of germs, especially when they first head off to school.

I go pretty easy on my kids when they’re home sick. Aside from making sure they take a good nap or two, they have a lot of flexibility in what they can do. If a sick kid feels best watching TV all day or playing on a tablet, well, it keeps them quiet. That extra screen time won’t hurt them, and they may fall asleep because it’s so relaxing.

Work At Home And Homeschool

When you really want to increase your challenges, try working at home while homeschooling. There will be a lot of truly challenging days.

Your lesson plans will need to be arranged so that you know when you can work on your job or home business. Anytime your kids can handle things independently, it’s time for you to earn money.

If your child is working on something where they’ll need your help part of the time but work independently the rest of the time, make sure you’re ready to be interrupted. Don’t work on things that require your full attention or will leave you frustrated when an interruption happens.

You may also find a homeschooling co-op or other group that will make your experience a little smoother. Talk to other parents about trading off responsibilities as necessary. Get help from other parents if you’re weak on a particular subject.

Homeschooling parents need a lot of flexibility from their work at home jobs or home businesses. Homeschooling adds a lot of demands to your day. You will need to be more organized than most with all the demands on your time.

Enjoy The Advantages

No matter the ages of your kids when you work at home, enjoy the advantages you get from being a work at home mom or dad. It’s a privilege not many parents can enjoy.

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 November 17th, 2018

Cooking When The Kids Won’t Cooperate

Cooking When The Kids Won't Cooperate

There’s an image people have of stay at home moms. A part of that image is the perfectly cooked dinner for her family, each and every day. But we stay at home moms know that it’s not always all that easy to do, especially when the kids are young and uncooperative. How do you manage cooking when the kids won’t cooperate?

There are some days when kids just don’t want to be out from underfoot. Or you just have too much going on with them that day, and despite being home it’s really hard to find a way to get dinner cooked.

No parent ever claimed that it was easy every day.

If you’re wanting to provide your family with a home-cooked meal every day you have to figure out how to make it work. If you plan ahead and have a few tricks up your sleeve, you can do it.

Plan Ahead

You don’t always know when the kids are going to be difficult. But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead. Knowing early on what you’re going to make for dinner or lunch can keep you from making rushed decisions and allow you to make healthier meals for your family.

If you can plan your weekly menu on a convenient day for your shopping, you ensure that you will have the ingredients you need for each meal. There are few things when you’re cooking more frustrating than to think you know what you want to make and realizing you’re out of a vital ingredient.

chopped vegetables

Chop Early, Chop Often

Think about the various fruits and vegetables you buy. How often do you need to chop them for dinner or even just for snacks? Wouldn’t your life be easier if they were ready to go when you needed them?

Don’t bother buying them chopped from the grocery store. They cost quite a bit more that way as a rule. Instead, chop them up at home. Find the time and get it done. Having fruits and vegetables ready to eat or cook with means that you’re more likely to eat them.

Of course, don’t chop too many fruits and veggies ahead of time. They go bad faster after you’ve chopped them, and you don’t want to waste food. Carrots may last a long time after being chopped, for example, but you know how fast bananas go bad. Make sure you consider how well each one lasts before you cut it up early.

Use Your Freezer

No, don’t put the kids in there. It may be tempting some days, but it just makes people talk about you.

When you can, make double recipes and put the excess in the freezer for another night. You’ll have to learn what freezes well; some vegetables really don’t do so well after being cooked then frozen. But you can make extra of just the meat part of the meal if you like and have a much easier time preparing dinner another night.

Chopping early works well with your freezer too. You can cut meats up right after buying them, and then freeze them. This works especially well if you can prep them to a point where all you have to do is defrost a meal and throw it into the crockpot, oven, or Instant Pot.

Some people will make enough meals to last a week or even a month, and freeze them for later use, all at once. I don’t get that organized as a general rule. Doubling up works much easier, in my opinion. My one exception is when we get meat at Costco – that’s too much to have in the fridge for long at all. That’s one of the ways I do my double bacon feta burgers, although it often comes out as a double recipe. If I’m making burgers, especially with bacon, my family will probably want some that night.

If you want to get serious about freezer meals, check out books about once a month cooking.

crockpot

The Crockpot Is Your Friend

I love my crockpot. I can start dinner at a time convenient to me. First thing in the morning or just 4 or so hours before we need to eat. The flexibility is wonderful when you aren’t sure how you’re going to get time to cook at dinnertime.

This is especially useful if your kids are in a lot of activities that run right up to dinnertime. You can save a lot of money if you don’t feel like you have to eat out every time just because it’s so late. The crockpot will keep dinner warm for you.

Using a crockpot isn’t the only time you can start dinner well in advance. Soups can simmer for hours and need only occasional attention. Think about the meals that have longer cooking times but aren’t all that hard to prepare.

So Is The Instant Pot

If you can’t get things cooking soon enough for the slow cooker, using the Instant Pot is another great idea. There are a lot of great recipes available for the Instant Pot, and it’s pretty fast.

One of the most important things you should understand about cooking with an Instant Pot is that the cook time doesn’t start until the pot is at pressure. If a recipe says to cook for 12 minutes, expect it to take several minutes for the pot to come to pressure before that 12 minute countdown starts on the timer.

stir-fry

Stir Frying Is Quick And Easy If You Have The Ingredients Ready

This is one of the big reasons for Rule 2. If you have your meats and vegetables chopped in advance, stir frying takes relatively little time. Throw on some rice, stir fry the meat and vegetables with a little sauce, and you have dinner.

Tacos are also popular and easy if you have the veggies prechopped. It’s fun to let everyone who’s old enough assemble their own.

Keep The Kitchen Organized And Clean

With kids, it’s easy to have dishes stack up. Take a few moments and load the dishwasher or wash the dishes after every meal. It just adds to the stress when you’re trying to cook and the kitchen is an absolute mess.

As the kids get older, they can help with this or even handle most of it. Silverware and plastic containers are easy for even young kids to handle. Once your kids are responsible enough and tall enough, they can put away breakable dishes as well.

Know When To Use The Microwave

Sometimes the microwave just adds to the chaos. It’s incredibly easy to use and convenient most times, but other times it’s one more thing to do when practically everything else is ready.

Decide which is really easier for you. Throwing the potatoes in the microwave just minutes before you need them or throwing them in the oven an hour earlier. Steaming vegetables in the microwave or steaming them on the stove. The faster method sometimes is better, other times adds to the last steps of cooking a good dinner. Which works best for you?

cooking together

Let The Kids Help When Possible

Younger children in particular love to help cook. While you can’t have young children stirring a pot on the stove, they can do things such as help to make the salad if the vegetables are chopped for them.

Older children may be at the point where they should be learning to cook, chop or just set the table. Assign chores and make a routine of it. They may complain and it may be harder for a little, but if it’s a routine there will eventually be less for them to complain about. It’s just a part of how they can help keep your home running smoothly.

Best of all is when you can tell one of the kids that it’s their night to make dinner for everyone. It’s good practice for when they grow up and head out on their own. It’s also a great break for tired parents.

I assign whole weeks during the summer to each of my kids where they have to help make meals at an age appropriate level. This includes having input on meal planning and grocery shopping. The older ones have to prepare entire meals on their weeks, while the youngest only has to help with the cooking.

Kids Like Lazy

You know those nights when you just don’t have the energy to make anything, so you just let the kids have cereal or something? You may feel bad, but your kids might just love it. If your parents did that when you were a kid, did you enjoy it? It will likely be the same for your kids.

I know the thing my kids like about nights that I tell them to figure out their own dinners is that they get exactly what they want from the food available. The selection may be limited, but there’s usually something that each child is delighted to eat.

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 3rd, 2018

Murphy’s Laws of Parenting You Can’t Escape

Murphy's Laws of Parenting You Can't Escape

Raising a family is a lot of work. Fun, but lots and lots of work. So many things go wrong no matter how carefully you try to make them go right. With the right attitude, it can be funny at times. You can certainly argue that there are Murphy’s laws of parenting.

These are the things that make your day to day life as a parent more difficult. Some of them also make for great stories when talking to other parents, because they all get it. They’ve been there too. And so…

Murphy’s Laws of Parenting

1. Never claim to be done with the laundry. Your children will generate more dirty clothes spontaneously.

2. Your child will outgrow that perfect outfit right before you want them to wear it. This is one of the few rules that applies as well to infants as to teens.

3. You will find that box of handmedown clothes after your child has outgrown that size.

4. Teaching your child to help around the house is harder than doing it yourself. It will pay off eventually, but not as soon as you would like.

5. No, your child doesn’t like their favorite food today. Unless you’re eating it. Then they’ll snag all of it from your plate.

6. That food they tried for the first time off your plate and loved it? They’re never eating that one again.

legos

7. A clean floor will spontaneously generate Legos or other small toys to step on.

8. Your child will discover the magic that is scissors and hair the day before school or family pictures are taken.

9. The length of your child’s nap is inversely proportional to how long you need them to nap.

10. Glitter is forever…. forever in your hair, forever on the floor, the counters….

11. The more important the phone call, the less important the thing your child insists on telling you in the middle of the call will be.

painting

12. Messy crafts are more appealing than ones that are easy to clean up after. Some kids can make any craft messy.

13. Silence is suspicious. They ARE up to something.

14. Your bathroom is no longer a private place. It doesn’t matter who else is around, your kids will want YOU when you’re in the bathroom.

15. The messier your clothes are, the more likely you are to run into someone you know when running errands.

16. That thing you swore your kids would never do back before you had kids? Yeah. They’re going to do it.

17. If you throw away toys they no longer play with, they will want them the next day.

18. The cuter the outfit, the bigger the diaper blowout.

19. Babies will always soil a fresh diaper. Especially when you’re in a hurry.

20. The more diapers you pack for an outing, the more changes your child will need. Usually at least one more change than you brought diapers.

21. The thing you forget to pack will be the thing your child needs most.

22. A diaper will always leak on freshly washed bedding.

23. The box is more interesting than the toy that came in it.

24. The more your child wanted the toy, the faster it will break or lose a piece.

sleeping child

25. A  child who naps in the car will not continue that nap at home, no matter how badly needed.

26. The sicker the child, the more they will want to snuggle with you.

27. A clean floor attracts spilled food and drink.

28. The more tired you are, the less tired they are.

29. A sick child will appear healthy at the pediatrician’s office, then be sick again at home.

30. Your child will tell people exactly what you don’t want them to say. Even if that person is a stranger.

Most of these relate to when your kids are small, no doubt because that’s when they have the least control over themselves. Many of these challenges go away as kids get older.

That doesn’t mean you get a break. Older kids mean new challenges.

frustration

Teens, in particular, can catch you off guard. They’re testing limits and getting ready for adulthood, but they still need you so much. And the more they need you, the less some of them want to admit it. Which is why they have their own, separate section here. It’s harder to come up with generalized laws for parenting teens because they vary so much!

1. The more supplies a school project needs, the closer to the due date they will inform you.

2. They will make the same mistakes you did, even if you try to help them avoid the mistakes.

3. Plus new mistakes that weren’t even possible when you were young.

4. Their biggest problems come when you are busiest.

5. Even more than when they were little, they notice when you do things you told them not to do.

6. Teens can sleep better than babies.

7. All that time you spent teaching your kids to dress appropriately for the weather when they were younger won’t matter when they’re teens. They’ll wear shorts all winter or a jacket all summer.

8. Some days everything you say to a teen will be the wrong thing to say. Even “Good morning.”

Fortunately, teens can also be a lot of fun to talk with, as they develop opinions of their own. They may challenge your rules, but they’re also learning to face the world on their own.

So many of the little frustrations that come with being a parent of kids at any age will be things you look back on fondly later. Enjoy what you can and don’t let the challenging parts get you too far down.

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 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.

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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.