What to Do When the Kids are Home this Summer

Tips for Providing a Little Structure to the Summer at Home

By Debra Flanagan, Publisher May 30, 2024

As summer comes upon us, you can see the panic rising in parents as their kids transition from busy school days, followed by extracurricular activities and homework, to nothing but free time. 

How will they be kept occupied for the entire summer? How can we keep them off their screens?

If you are lucky enough to be able to send them to summer camp, fantastic, but you may still be left with a couple of weeks before or after camp sessions where your kids will be home with you. In which case, you might want to put some structure around "Camp Mom" for the sake of everyone's sanity.

Assign specific time slots for morning activities, afternoon activities, quiet time, and chores  

My kids are much more cooperative when they know what to expect. Moreover, my kids are complete opposites. When given the choice between two or more things, it is guaranteed that each kid will choose something different. Therefore in addition to a daily outline, we also came up with a fair way to choose our activities and eliminate any arguments or choice paralysis. It also eased my need to come up with ideas all the time. 

In addition to a schedule, create jars for each time slot or activity 

Together fill each jar with options, and have the kids take turns blindly selecting each day's activities from the jar. When completed, remove that item from the jar until all items are completed and you can start over.

Consider a jar for a weekly field trip(s) and have the kids pick from it on Monday, so you can plan for the excursion(s) later in the week.  

Stay Flexible

Be prepared to scrap the schedule to spend time with friends, or when the weather calls for it, to spend the entire day at the beach or pool without advance notice. 

Take Advantage

Another benefit of the jars, is the ability to slip in some activities that you may have an ulterior motive for. For example, using up the rest of a slime kit, or performing an experiment from a science kit they had yet to open from their birthday - things you want to finally dispose of.  

Activity Jar Examples

Indoor Activity Jar

  • Make Slime
  • Journal 
  • Put puzzles together
  • Play with Play-Doh 
  • Create Tik Toks together 
  • Sing Karaoke
  • Doodle/Draw - check out this prompt tool
  • Build a blanket fort
  • Build a pillow fort
  • Complete activity books (word searches/word jumbles etc.)
  • Perform meditation
  • Make friendship bracelets
  • Spa Day (use those face masks you can get for $1 at Target that come in all different funny animal/character designs, mani/pedis, foot baths, hair wraps, etc.)
  • Color
  • Sew/Knit 
  • Complete Mad Libs
  • Play The Floor is Lava
  • Play board games/card games
  • Play video games together
  • Have a dance party 
  • Cook

Outdoor Activity Jar

  • Roller skating/Scooter/Skateboard
  • Mini golf
  • Basketball
  • Go fishing
  • Biking
  • Play with drones
  • Soccer
  • Driving range
  • Batting cage
  • Draw with chalk
  • Nerf battle
  • Water balloon/water gun fight
  • Tennis
  • Frisbee
  • Fly kites
  • Softball/baseball catch
  • Neighborhood scavenger hunt
  • Walk for ice cream
  • Bowling
  • Swim 

Movie Jar

  • Goonies - PG
  • Little Women - PG
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines - PG 
  • Rip Tide - PG
  • Secretariat - PG
  • Along Came Polly - PG13
  • Clueless - PG13
  • Fever Pitch - PG13
  • Miss Congeniality - PG13
  • Venom - PG13
  • Won't You Be My Neighbor - PG13

*Use your own parental discretion. See also - Top 50+ Movies for Tweens and Teens 

Cooking Jar

Create a separate jar for things to cook together. Pull recipes from Macaroni KID EATS! or create a jar for theme nights, in which case the theme could help determine the meal. 

Theme Jar
Venetian Night
Listen to Opera
Hawaiian Chicken
Hawaiian Shirts/Skirts
Play Limbo
Watch Book of Life or Coco
Beach Party
Burgers/Bomb Pops
Bathing Suits
Dance Party
Red Carpet
Surf and Turf
Fancy Outfits
Watch an Oscar-Winning Movie
Mad Hatter Tea Party
Tea Sandwiches/Pastries
Crazy Outfits/Hats
Play Cards (Hearts)
Baseball Night
Hot Dogs/Sausages
Team Jerseys
Have a Catch in the Yard or Watch a Classic Baseball Film or Game on TV

Potential Field Trips Jar

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Have fun all you Parent Camp Counselors out there! We are always interested in hearing your ideas as well. Join us on Facebook to share your ideas and get event/activity updates in real time.