Menu

Here’s what your kids REALLY need this summer

And it's got nothing to do with camp, technology or childcare.

meaningful summer activities for no-camp summer

In some ways, summer still means what it's always meant: warmer weather, extra family time and a more relaxed schedule than the rest of the year. But this year is undeniably unlike any other summer before.

For many families, summer usually means 8-10 weeks of time spent at home or at camp, but this year many camps are closed and most families have just survived 12 weeks of togetherness due to school closures. How on earth can you keep kids busy and engaged all summer when you've already used up all your fun ideas trying to get through the past few months? How can you possibly help kids fill the next few months in a way that isn't overrun with boredom and complaints?

FEATURED VIDEO

The trick to surviving summer is helping kids find meaning in their days.


What gives a day meaning can vary from family to family, but in general the idea is to have a shared sense of working towards something. When kids are able to see themselves reaching a goal, bit by bit, it helps their days have meaning.

While we're limited by social distancing, closed camps and restricted activities, we still have the ability to create meaning and purpose—along with plenty of fun—this summer. Things definitely won't be "summer as usual" this year. But the good news is, even though things are different this year, there are still plenty of ways to make summer meaningful for your kids.

Try the following five tips to help your kids have a meaningful summer, even while being limited by social distancing.

1. Set summer goals

One of the easiest ways to give your children's summer meaning is to encourage them to accomplish something that feels worthwhile. In order to make that happen, you need to help your children figure out what they want to accomplish.

Depending on your children's ages, you may create a list of goals primarily set by you (for younger kids) or by them (for older kids). Generally, it works best to set a range of goals—some daily (read for 15 minutes each day), some weekly (help cook dinner) and some for the whole summer (learn to ride a bike). Goals can also encompass a range of skills and ideals, including personal goals, social goals, academic goals and community service goals.

Once you have a list of goals, make a checklist so kids can check off items as they're completed, helping them see progress towards their end goal. At the end of the summer, they can look back at all they've learned and accomplished!

2. Find ways to connect to peers

For many kids, summer is about free time and friends, and a summer spent without that feels pointless and frustrating. It's important to help kids stay connected to peers in whatever ways feel appropriate to your family.

For some families, that means using videoconferencing apps to call friends or using Netflix Party to watch movies while chatting with friends. For other families, it means picking one or two "safe" families to socially distance with—limiting social interaction to just a few families to minimize exposure.

Peer relationships and safety are both important right now, so try to find a balance between helping your child feel connected and what feels right for your family.

3. Create family rituals

In general, activities gain meaning when they're about something more than just ourselves; we find meaning in tasks when we see a connection to something bigger. One important way to help kids feel connected to something bigger than themselves is to strengthen their identity as part of your family—and family rituals help kids do just that.

Summer, with all its endless time together, is the perfect time to create family rituals. Make Friday night "family movie night," and let children take turns picking the movie for everyone. Make Saturday morning your standard time for a family walk, and check out different places to walk together. You can have everyone cook dinner together once per week or build in time for board games each night after dinner.

Choose whichever rituals work best for your family, and remember that having the rituals is far more important than what you actually do during the rituals. Rituals help develop connections and consistency, which are both so important right now.

4. Create daily schedules

Another way to make summer feel more meaningful is to build a structure and plan for each day. Many kids feel overwhelmed and lost when their days are completely open, with no sense of a plan. Creating a schedule (even a loose one!) can help give kids direction and meaning.

Having a schedule doesn't have to mean you're all bound to the clock 24/7. Your schedule can reflect the more relaxed nature of summer (later bedtimes and wake times, free time before getting dressed in the morning, and so on), but it's still important to have daily expectations. Build in a predictable schedule for waking, dressing, meals and exercise.

And because it's summer, build in plenty of chances for free time, while ensuring the major transitions of the day are included. When kids have daily expectations, it lends a sense of purpose to their days.

5. Build self-help skills

Finally, give meaning to summer by helping kids learn how to be more independent. One of the great gifts of summer is time. You can let your preschooler spend 15 minutes putting his pajama shirt on all by himself because it's okay if he gets to bed a few minutes late. You can let your 6 year old spend 20 minutes tying his shoes because there's no school bus he's going to miss.

Because summer gives you time, it's a great chance to help kids of all ages master self-help skills and developmentally-appropriate chores. Elementary aged kids can learn to prepare simple snacks and meals or help run the dishwasher and washing machine. Younger children can work on dressing, hygiene and toileting. If you have middle-school or high-schoolers, help them develop job skills or more advanced cooking skills. Summer is the perfect time to let your child master a new skill that he or she will have for a lifetime.

Summers often feel long and lazy, but this summer could feel especially long since families have already spent the past 3 months cooped up together! Rather than viewing the next few months as an endless battle against boredom, work toward giving your children's summer a sense of purpose and meaning—it might just be your best summer yet.

In This Article

    These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

    It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

    When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

    But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

    I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

    So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

    It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

    But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


    Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


    Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

    Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

    Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

    Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


    This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    Here are the self-care items you desperately need right now

    Self care is not enough, but with the news, the ongoing pandemic and just life, it can't hurt to self-pamper to make the world feel less heavy.

    @stefiakti/Twenty20

    This week has felt like a month. Between the debate, Chrissy Teigen's heartbreaking news and now with President Trump tweeting that he and Melania have tested positive for COVID-19 it's hard to not feel overwhelmed. On top of that, we are still in a never ending historical pandemic, people are still losing their jobs and moms, well, we are at the end of our rope.

    Yes, motherhood is political, and no, self care is not enough to fix burn out, but if all you need right now is to turn off your phone and cozy up to a soft blanket because you've had enough, I hear you. Hard same. So we picked some stuff for you to buy and pamper yourself. No regrets, we all deserve some self-love right now.

    Here are things that will make you feel hugged:

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop

    The second any new parent lays their eyes on their newborn baby, their thoughts probably go to how the baby is going to set the world on fire with their energy, charisma and passion. As the years go by, you may refer to your little one as a firecracker because of their witty and spunky personality, or you may be taken aback (in the best way possible) by how their infectious personality catches onto any room like a flame.

    Perhaps you or your partner has taken on a life of service as a firefighter, and are heavily inspired by the word fire, or maybe it's a word with a different personal meaning that ignites your spirit. The word fire can stand for a lot of things, including warmth, light and exciting. Maybe you see your child as the flame that will continue to carry on your family's legacy. Whatever reason you may want to give your child a name that means fire, it's up to you, and there are dozens of options to make your dreams come true.

    So go ahead and peruse this list for 100 ideas for baby names that mean fire.

    Keep reading Show less
    Life