Summer vacation is fast approaching (and for some, it’s already here.) Most parents face the same dilemma each year. How do we keep kids entertained, active, yet off the phone, computer, and TV screen all day?  Here are some ideas that will hopefully relieve some summer-days worry.

Don’t Stress, But Make a Plan

Vacations and/or summer camp may help fill some of the hours, if you’re lucky enough to provide either. If you don’t want fidget spinners and screen time to fill in the gaps, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Get out the calendar and try to start filling in activities with the ideas offered below.
Our kids are run ragged most of the school year with sports, classes, and clubs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little down time. In fact, some of the greatest creativity emerges from stillness and “non-activity.” The challenge today is teaching/learning/re-learning that sometimes, doing nothing is OK.

Get Up and Running

There are numerous studies about how much time is appropriate for children to spend on technology (texting on phones, gaming, watching TV, etc.) One thing most experts and parents can agree upon is that too much screen time at the expense of other positive activities benefits no one. We all have to remember that we don’t need to be connected to electronics 24/7.
Increases in the rates of childhood obesity are due in part to kids being less active. Other studies have shown that tech overload can lead to isolation and depression. Changing up the routine in the summer can lead to good habits that will hopefully carry over though the school year.
Time spent on fun activities, with any luck, some of them together, also increases the valuable parent/child bond. So no matter how it’s done, getting kids off the sofa or gaming chair will benefit their physical and mental health.

Keep it Simple for Summer

You don’t need to rack your brain or break the bank to have a good time.  Sometimes, the simple things in life are the best.  Besides, if your goal is to get your kids unplugged for a while, some “old school” fun might be just the thing they need while out of school.
Think back to when you were a child—what did you do that was fun or brings back fond memories of summer?  Odds are that your kids will enjoy many of the same things as well.  Here are some suggestions to help create lasting memories.

Springboard to Summer Fun

Of course, kids of differing ages will often like different things. Some activities are ageless, as well.  Use the suggestions below as a launching pad for your and your child’s imagination, interests, and abilities. The most important things are to have fun and enjoy re-experiencing the kid in you, too.

Kids (ages 4-9)

Arts & crafts, field trips, picnics, finger-painting, making music, the sandbox, lemonade stands, costumes, bug collecting, learning to cook or garden, making a book, fruit picking, feeding the birds or ducks, eating watermelon and having a pit spitting contest…

Tweens (ages 10-13)

Backyard camping, water park, a dance party with friends or just you, putting on a play, neighborhood Olympics or sports, fashion shows, martial arts, the library, gardening, movie day or night, baking, game night…

Teens (ages 13-17)

Starting a business, volunteering, talking, planning an event (vacation, party, etc.), community activities, yard sales, day trips, visiting relatives, family challenge contests, even engaging in some quality time alone or with friends is ideal.
All ages can enjoy the beach or pool, camping, hiking, bike rides, scavenger hunts, and many other outdoor activities. Yoga can even be on the list. Reading, even if it’s comic books or a graphic novel, is always a worthwhile endeavor.

Top Tip for Tech Overload

If you’re having a hard time tearing your tyke from their technology, try integrating some tech into your alternative activities. There are many apps that help you find stars, birds, trails, and geocaches. Other apps are designed to get kids moving and exercising. You can also try to bring the game characters into the real world with everything from play dough to real-life games based on popular video games.
So, a summer of lifelong memories awaits you and your children. Get them out there and start having some real fun!  For more helpful parenting tips and suggestions to keep the kiddos happy, search