Swimming with my children
Activities,  Musings

Planning Summer Activities for Kids

As the days grow longer and the temperature rises, the anticipation of summer fun fills the air. It’s that time of year when school’s out, and the possibilities for adventure and excitement are endless. But as a parent or caregiver, you know that without a plan, those long summer days can quickly dissolve into hours of screen time and boredom. Fear not! This blog post is your guide to planning summer activities for kids. From outdoor explorations to creative projects and everything in between, get ready to embark on a journey that will make this summer the most fun one yet. So grab your sunblock, dust off your imagination, and dive into a summer of joy and laughter!

My children are starting to age out of summer camps but truth be told, I’ve always found summer camp to be really expensive. So how do I keep the summer from devolving into hours of screen time? I make a plan! It’s not as structured as the school year but as Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Here’s a quick guide to how I prepare for summer.

Brainstorm Joyful Activities

Spend some time brainstorming activities that bring joy to you and your children. It can be exploring a new trail, or park, heading to the library, or picnicking. This should fill the bulk of your list. You don’t want to have too many “big” outings or it can overwhelm you as a parent or caregiver especially when your children are young. Make sure that these are activities that you enjoy doing with them so you’ll actually want to do the activity. It’s supposed to be joyful!

Example of summer activity poster
Example of San Francisco list ages 6 and 8

Next, sprinkle in some bigger activities, including travel, camping, or bigger day trips. Focus on building memories together. If you need ideas, I try thinking like a tourist in my hometown. How many times have you heard people say they grew up somewhere but never experienced the things it’s famous for? I grew up in Vermont yet many Vermonters have never gone alpine skiing. San Franciscans never go to Fisherman’s Wharf, and Singaporeans rarely experience the beautiful parks on the island. I love going to Pasir Ris Park with my children.

Gather Your Sharpies

Once you’ve done your brainstorming and have a rough list formulated, you get to the fun part! Get a large piece of poster paper, all the markers, and your mom-besties. It’s time to get creative and put your ideas down on paper, specifically poster paper. As you can tell my posters could use a little help but that’s really not the point and I had fun making them.

I love doing this with friends. It sparks new ideas and helps me re-imagine some activities. Also, motherhood can be isolating so anytime you can get together with friends, you should!

As children get older, leave space for them to fill in some of their ideas. They will feel ownership and more excited if they feel that the activities reflect them as well.

San Francisco Example – ages 7 and 9

Display Your Activities

Once you’ve created your masterpiece, put it up somewhere central so everyone can see it (no one will actually care what it looks like!) Ideally, I like to do this a week before school ends so we have something to look forward to. By displaying your activities you are also making yourself accountable to your children. The goal is to have fun together and stay off your screens!

Remember you created the list, the list didn’t create you! You don’t need to do everything on the list, it’s there to give structure but sometimes other things come up. You’ll see that my lists aren’t completed either. Life happens! Sometimes you find an activity so much fun that you want to do it again. Make time for that!

Singapore list – ages 9-11 – this list was created by my children with minimal input from me

Managing Your Schedule

On Sunday, I ask my girls to pick three activities to do that week. For me, that was the magic number, it may be different for you. I need the other days to run errands, attend to my projects, or just take some downtime.

On the “off days,” I ask my children to help out with the normal household chores. They are happy to help especially when they understand the correlation between a clean house and a happy mother. It helps them learn to look after themselves. Each morning during the summer, I make a list of household chores that need to be completed before we start our fun. This ensures that we’re all motivated and it relieves the pressure on me to have to do everything.

Teen Years

Teens are hard to motivate but you can still set the expectation that the summer will not be spent on a screen. I continue to brainstorm activities but they end up creating most of the list. We do a lot more amusement parks and this year I will create a challenge for them to navigate their way around Singapore on public transit. They will also be responsible for some meal planning and grocery shopping. (I’m all about teaching life skills!)


Grab your sunglasses, pack a picnic, and embark on a summer full of memories and laughter. Embrace the vibrant energy of the season, gather your loved ones, and let the sun-kissed days be a testament to the joy of well-planned and engaging summer activities. After all, life is meant to be lived to the fullest, and summer is the perfect time to make it happen. Let the fun begin!

Just as I published this post, I came across this article in my email. It’s really the idea that drives my summer lists, making little things into big memories. Enjoy!

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