As warm weather arrives and coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders are lifted, it is time to start planning fun family activities to do this summer. Many families are rethinking their annual summer vacation for a few reasons:
- Many families had to cancel (or received cancellations) of their summer vacation reservations due to coronavirus.
- Although stay-at-home orders are being lifted in many states, families are still hesitant to travel to crowded destinations to minimize the risk of catching COVID-19 and being stuck far from home.
- Some industries, like the cruise lines, have not yet given firm plans for reopening.
- Many families are working with a more limited budget this year due to temporary furloughs, layoffs, and reduced hours.
What goes into making fun family activities to do this summer? Here are a few elements for successful family events:
- Parents and kids participate together: Although kids can have fun while their parents watch, successful family time requires that kids and parents participate together.
- Kids participate together: Older kids often no not want to get stuck doing “baby stuff” and young kids are often limited by physical size. A successful family activity allows kids of all ages to participate together.
- Encourage communication: Many activities are entertaining, but do not necessarily strengthen the family. One way to strengthen family bonds is to choose activities that are both entertaining and encourage communication.
- Educational: Educational does not mean boring. Any activity, such as fishing, visiting a national monument, or swimming at the local pool, can be educational if it exposes your family to new experiences.
- Memorable: Experiences are more memorable, and bring humans greater happiness, than possessions. Spending time together and doing something new will stay with your family forever.
Here are ten fun family activities to do this year:
Learn a New Sport
Kids’ league sports and sports lessons are still up in the air. However, fun family activities to do this summer include learning a new sport as a family. If your kids are old enough to run around on a grassy field, they are old enough to learn soccer, football, baseball, volleyball, or even golf.
Remember that the goal of your sports lessons is not to get your children to hit a home run over the center-field fencing. Rather, it is to have fun and learn the rules of a new game.
If you do not know the rules of the sport, all the better. You will be in the same boat as your kids and you can all learn the sport together. If your family enjoys the new game, it could become a new pastime for the entire gang. If your family hates it, pick a new game to learn the next time you are outside.
Most sports do not require anything more specialized than a ball and some cones to mark the field. For example, some more obscure field sports that you can find rules for online include:
- Ultimate frisbee
- Blind soccer
- Frisbee golf
- Australian football
A building project for your yard or home is one of the fun family activities to do to bring your family together. Building projects are team-building exercises that require coordination and communication to pull off. Equally importantly, unless you work with your hands for your profession, everyone can learn something new while building your project.
Even more important, a building project can enhance both the usability and value of your home. The most common remodeling projects take place in the kitchen or bathroom. In fact, Americans remodel more than 10 million kitchens and 14 million bathrooms every year.
You do not need to pick a complicated project that will require welding classes or expensive equipment. Rather, painting the kitchen, building a bathroom cabinet, or installing shelves in a closet can be an appropriate project for kids to help with. Just remember a few steps:
- Safety first: Even if you are accustomed to being lax with safety glasses, ear protection, and face masks, make sure your kids are fully protected and understand that safety is an integral part of every building project.
- Supervise: Keep an eye on your kids. Kids sometimes do things without thinking first and rely on you to point out what can happen if they do something dangerous or stupid.
- Teach: Make sure kids learn good habits, and avoid bad habits, like planning and measuring before building.
- Constructively criticize: Make sure your comments are constructive and help your children learn from the project rather than turning them off to wanting to help with the next project.
Learn a New Hobby
One reason kids love summer camp is that they can learn a new hobby or craft. However, this year summer camp is up in the air, with some summer camps canceling this summer’s sessions and others going virtual or delaying a decision on whether to open at all.
You can provide a comparable experience for your children by finding a new hobby to take up this summer. One benefit of do-it-yourself summer camp is that you can plan fun family activities to do together. For example, if the time has come for your children to learn fishing or canoeing, you can take the whole family out to the lake to learn the new hobby.
Just like summer camp, you can mix up the hobbies and try some things that you might otherwise not attempt. For example, you could try:
- Leather working
- Jewelry making
- Bug hunting
Even if your kids’ regular summer camp reopens next summer, they will remember the year they spent summer camp at home.
Learn to Swim
Swimming is good exercise and can save your kids’ lives someday. Summertime is usually time for swimming lessons. However, this year, many recreation centers are canceling swimming lessons because of COVID-19. However, fun family activities to do this summer include spending time in the pool and learning to swim.
If one family member is a better swimmer than the rest of the family, they may be able to teach everyone how to swim. If no one knows how to swim, many of the unemployed swimming teachers are teaching private lessons.
If you have a pool, you may even be able to hire a swimming teacher to teach lessons in your pool. Just be sure that you hire a swimming pool cleaning service so your swimming teacher does not pick up any waterborne parasites like cryptosporidium and giardia as well as illness-causing bacteria like campylobacter and shigella.
If you own a pool, chlorine can be effective against bacteria, but both giardia and cryptosporidium have hard shells that make them highly resistant to chlorine. Instead, ultraviolet light is usually the most effective process for destroying parasites.
Plan a Staycation
Many times people say they do not know their hometown very well despite living there all their lives. For these people, a staycation might uncover dozens of fun family activities to do this summer.
Some places to find family activities include state, county, and city visitor websites, local travel magazines, and online travel guides and attraction ratings sites. For example, most large cities have a Tripadvisor page that lists the most popular and highest rated attractions for that city.
Some examples of things to do with kids in the age of COVID-19 include:
- Zoos: Kids love animals and many zoos have reopened. The risk of coronavirus transmission is lower outdoors than indoors, which means that a visit to the zoo, with appropriate social distancing, is a relatively safe activity.
- Museums and aquariums: Museums seem like a risky place to take your family. Museums are usually indoors and have many touchpoints. However, museums have taken care to implement social distancing, attendance limits, and cleaning protocols. These steps, combined with a face mask and hand sanitizer, should make a visit to a museum relatively safe. Or, even better, find an outdoor museum.
- Parks and gardens: Parks and gardens are perfect for a family staycation. The risk of transmission is lower outdoors than indoors. Moreover, kids can run off some energy.
- Backyard camping: You don’t need to go far to enjoy the different aspects of camping. Pitch a tent in the backyard, start a fire to roast some s’mores, and you’re golden.
Turn Your Yard Into a Park
Instead of going to the park, you can turn your yard into a park for fun family activities to do this summer. As mentioned previously, kids love to help build, and building a home park can be one of the most entertaining and longest lasting projects your kids could undertake.
Some elements to transforming your yard might include:
- Landscaping: Planting trees and gardens not only increase your enjoyment of your yard. It can also increase the curb appeal and value of your home if you ever sell it.
- Patio or deck: A patio or deck can provide the perfect place for a picnic table and grill. An oversize patio can also provide space for a basketball court.
- Swimming pool or hot tub: Swimming pools and hot tubs are a dicey economic proposition. In many areas, a swimming pool or hot tub might not increase the value of your home and may limit the potential buyers for your home. However, pools and hot tubs are associated with some of the highest satisfaction ratings\ by homeowners. This means that even though they do not produce a huge return on investment, they make your home more enjoyable for you and your family.
Install a Sport Court
Multi-sport sport courts can provide a playing surface for many sports, including basketball, pickleball, shuffleboard, volleyball, and tennis, depending on its size and shape. Thus, for a single investment, a sport court can provide fun family activities to do for years to come.
For example, pickleball is a growing sport. Since pickleball gear and courts take up less space than tennis gear and courts, pickleball is a perfect choice for a backyard sport court.
Moreover, a pickleball court can fit inside a basketball court, so installing a basketball standard can allow the pickleball court to double as a basketball court.
Learn to Cook
Most kids love to help cook. Moreover, kids love to eat. This means that fun family activities to do this summer should include cooking or even cooking lessons.
Summertime is usually cookout time and, fortunately, making burgers and kabobs over the BBQ grill is fast and easy.
Some tips for teaching kids to cook include:
- Emphasize food safety: Wash hands and kitchen tools with warm soapy water to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses
- Find age-appropriate tasks: Small kids can help stir, add ingredients, and wash fruits and vegetables. Older kids can follow a recipe, cut up ingredients, and use the stove and oven with proper instruction and supervision.
- Encourage kids to try new things: Cooking is a good way to introduce new foods and new cuisines. Experiment with new recipes or try to recreate favorite restaurant dishes.
Customize Or Update Your Home
Kids like customized decor. Have your kids help you to choose the furniture and interior design of the house while you are decorating your home.
Decorating your home does not need to break the bank. A few inexpensive touches will make your home as unique as your kids are. Some examples include:
- Floating shelves: Hanging a floating shelf is easy and inexpensive. The shelves can give a room a classy look and kids can display their knickknacks and souvenirs on them.
- Paint: A fresh coat of paint can make a room look brand new. Most importantly, your kids can pick the color and help do the painting.
- Closet organizer: A closet organizer can help your kids keep their rooms clean. When you plan your closet layout, have your kids figure out what to keep and what to give away or pass down to younger siblings. That way, they have an organized and clean closet.
- Garage door spring repair: If keeping your kids and their belongings safe is your priority, making sure the garage door isn’t broken is a perfect start. Keeping your garage intact will allow you to focus on the more fun decor projects indoors.
According to health experts, camping might be an ideal summer vacation idea for this year. If you decide to leave the comfort and ease of your backyard, being in the forest or plains isolated from other people minimizes your risk of contracting COVID-19 while still providing many fun family activities to do in the outdoors.
There are many aspects to camping that appeal to kids:
- Get close to nature: Kids like seeing wildlife and insects. Camping allows them to see them in their natural habitat. Moreover, seeing the vastness of nature helps kids gain perspective.
- Adventure: Nature is unpredictable and being in nature allows kids to use their imaginations to create their own worlds.
- Learn new skills: Whether it is building a fire, pitching a tent, or tracking animals in the woods, kids learn things while camping that they would not learn at home.
- Become self-reliant: Vacationing at a resort or cruise ship is all about having other people take care of you. Camping is all about taking care of yourself.
- Escape technology: Parents have difficulties separating kids from screens. Being in the wild where there is no cell signal or WiFi can help draw kids’ attention from their screens back to their family.
COVID-19 and its effects have not canceled summer. To the contrary, after going through three months of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, a summer vacation might be just what your family needs. With some thoughtful planning, you can put together fun family activities to do this summer.
Commune with nature while camping or renovating your yard. Spruce up your home and customize your kids’ rooms. Explore your hometown’s attractions. Learn a new hobby, sport, or skill. As long as you do it together, whatever you choose to do will build family bonds and memories that will last a lifetime.