Keeping your kids occupied this summer does not have to be complicated or expense. You do not have to scour Pinterest for that elusive craft that your child will just love! Nor do you have to buy out all the art supplies at Michael’s. These simple activities I did with my 3 and 5 year old were cheap (or free!), easy to gather the materials and execute, and best of all they loved each activity. Remember simple crafts are not only great for parents, kids enjoy the ease of them as well. And plus you are less likely to become that angry yelling parents that you loathe because you didn’t have to spend the entire morning organizing a craft only to have your child throw a tantrum at the start of it. Simple stuff makes mommy happy and then baby is happy too. OK, here are four simple summer activities that were successful with my brood…
+ Journal Writing – Now I use this term loosely with kids, but you get the idea. Journal writing is an easy daily (or biweekly!) activity I have been doing with my girls. Designating a time of each day to draw and write in their journals about the day’s events has been enlightening. Sometimes they want to draw a picture of themselves at camp. For instance they day they went sailing and almost tipped over (a big event!). Other days they just want to draw the cookie that I put in their lunch bag (a small but meaningful moment in their day!). These journals give me a sneak peak into their minds and I love it. I gave the girls lined composition books (wished I had found some unlined ones though) I had lying around. Nothing expensive here but the satisfaction and interaction it brings is priceless.
+ Water Bottle Decorating – Yes, I laughed at this idea too, but you would be surprised at how much time they spent on this and how much pride that felt when they finished it. All it took was a plastic water bottle and some colorful duct tape and voila, you have an hour long craft that is actually useful! And again, the cost for this was minimal as I already had this stuff. So it was just about re-purposing what I already owned. You could do this with anything — even a tissue box. Just let them paste pieces of magazine and construction paper onto the outside of a box. Keeping things simple is the key to this one.
+ Legos Without Instructions – Have I ever mentioned that my mom saved everything from my childhood (read more about that here and here )? Well, she also saved these primary colored Legos from the 80s– like from when before Legos were created for the sole purpose of promoting a Disney movie. And wow did they captivate my kids. So to be clear, my girls liked Legos before they stumbled upon this treasure trove of pieces, but there was something about the simplicity of these colors and piece sizes that occupied them for a few hours. (I didn’t hurt either that there were plenty of pieces so the arguing over pieces was at a minimum). But still, there was something about the simplicity of these Lego shapes and they fact that they didn’t come with a predetermined structure to be constructed that allowed my girls to be more creative with their building. The cost was free as I was borrowing my mom’s toys. But this could easily be replicated in your home by reaching out to friends with older kids who are looking to unload the mounds of Lego pieces they’ve accrued over the years. And yes you probably have friends like this – you just have to ask!
+ Friendship Bracelets – Remember making these? My kids love them and they loved watching me make them. Yes, I had to do the work because their little fingers are not deft enough to do it themselves yet. So technically this was an activity for me! But then after I had made a few (I kept it simple by making a Chinese staircase or just a simple braid) my kids wanted to share them with their new camp friends and don one on their ankles as well. While this activity does take up some of my time it was time spent with my kids and that felt good. They picked out the colors for their bracelet for themselves and a friend and watched my fingers as it made the pattern. A low cost activity that didn’t involve technology and brought about kindness (by selecting colors that you know your friend would like!) is a great way to spend your time with your child.
So if you are struggling to keep sane this summer with your kids, remember to keep things simple. Not every activity needs to cost major money and require complex toys and games. By just re-purposing what you have or borrowing from a friend, you can create fun activities that will make your kids and you happy.
And if you need to find some new places to play outside this summer check out this thorough list of playgrounds in the Bococa neighborhood. I’m sure there is at least one on this list that is within walking distance which you haven’t tried yet!