Dude Approved Summer Activities for Kids

Next week I will endure begin my 7th summer break as a mother.

I’m both really anxious (this will be the first summer following the first year all of my children were in school all day) and freakishly excited (I am SO done with school and so very ready to be summering).

If nothing else I know what it takes to make a memorable summer.

It starts with a formula…

Enough downtime to not be exhausted + Enough activity to not be bored

Throw in a bit of money, some friends with easy going kids, enough yelling to get them to act, some bad for your health but good for your sanity snackage, a safe yard you can deposit them in all day when you can’t take another moment of bickering, and a really awesome hiding place stashed with chocolate your kids have no idea you have and you’ll be winning.

Line up every single thing I just mentioned and then add in a few of the tips below and you have the makings of one memorable summer.

summer activities kids

10 Easy, Cheap, and Crazy Awesome Summer Activities for Kids

1.  Sign them up for something.  You’ll be sad if you don’t have at least one organized week where you have to be somewhere at a certain time consistently.  Sure, everyone needs a break and a little do nothing, be nowhere time to relax.  But, I find that structure makes us happy and by structure I mean a place where I drop my kids off and everyone there expects me to go somewhere else entirely.

2.  Don’t sign them up for everything.  Conversely, having to be somewhere every single day all early all summer is a great way to ruin it.  I want to have jammie days and lay by the pool days and pretend I have a migraine so you have to be super quiet and stay in your room all day days.  That’s the stuff memorable summers are made of.

3.  Let them be dirty.  I figure if they swim in a pool they are generally good to skip a shower.  Chlorine is like a disinfectant, right?

4.  Skip those work books.  You know the ones that cost $15 and are supposed to keep your kid from suffering the summer slide?  They are a total waste of cash.  Your kid will do like three pages all summer and then it will sit on their desk in the corner for the next six years straight (ask me how I know this).  Instead, download a few educational type apps and tell him that he has to spend 30  minutes a day working them if he wants to earn 30 minutes of Minecraft.  Bribery is a legitimate parenting tactic.

5.  Give them chores.  Your house stays clean and you’ll always have something to say to them when they start moaning about being bored.

6.  Set an electronics schedule.  For all of you.  Otherwise you will sit on Facebook all day watching viral videos because they are quietly playing their iPads.

7.  Plan adventure days.  They don’t have to cost a fortune, they just have to be adventurous!  We have a weekly adventure day and I’ve planned the entire summer’s events out for us.  For peeps in the DC area, I am working on our 10 Weeks of Summer Adventures in DC Guide and will be sharing it with you shortly (almost done!)

8.  Invite friends over.  The idea here is that your kids will have someone to occupy them that’s not you and the hope is that one of the moms will kindly return the favor.

9.  Do something old school.  Hit the library.  Have a water balloon fight.  Play flashlight tag.  My Dudes love doing things that I enjoyed doing with my parents as a kid.  They like that I share stories about going skating with my mom or using the card catalog at the library (yes, I’m that old), and then doing those things with me (of course we don’t use the card catalog, but you know what I mean).

10.  Watch a good movie.  Or 10.  We have a movie night every week of summer that is dedicated to old school flicks.  Last summer we created this best family movies of all time viewing list.  We watched every title on it.  Here’s the list for this year in case you want to join us…

best 80s 90s movies kids

Still hearing “I’m borrrred” eleven billionty times a day?  Check out these summer activities for kids for more ideas on how to shut that nonsense down.


  1. says

    I totally agree with number four! I have a bin of un-used summer work books. Look you summer movie suggestions, too!

  2. says

    Great tips! We try to follow pretty much all of these guidelines. Love your list of movies, too. There are a LOT of great family movies on Netflix Instant that fall into this category.

  3. says

    The library Summer Reading Program is a wonderful place to keep your structure, yet have fun at the same time. (Of course, I am a librarian and am shamelessly self-promoting.)
    And your migraine plan is GENIUS. Pure Genius!!