10 Things You Should Do With Your Kids This Summer (& 1 Thing You Don’t Have To)

If you’re anything like me, you have moments (not with your kids) when you can think of so many things you want them to experience, so much summer fun you are excited to share with them, that your wrist aches from pinning brilliant ideas to your Pinterest board. So you do a cute art project, hit the playground, splash in some water, have a playdate…and that’s when you realize. It’s only noon. Noon…in June. The day after school let out.

I think that, like with almost everything, most moms overthink summer. Keep it simple. Think: lazy. In a good way. Here are 10 things I think we should all do this summer with our kids:

1) Get outside and feed the dollies. Recipes for stuffed sea shells, boiled buttons, dandelion soufflé, and other delicacies may be found in the crucial text, Mud Pies and Other Recipes for Dolls.

2) Go to your local farmer’s market. Let the kids select and buy their own produce. They might even eat it, or at the very least you can have an interesting conversation about how things grow and get all the way to their bellies.

3) Get outside, get quiet and take a “Listening Walk.” There is a printable checklist here to direct your listening.

4) Make your own bubbles. (Just be ready to get swarmed at the playground. She who holds the bubble wand attracts all the children!)

5) Collect favorite summer-themed books (we love this vintage treasure). When the inevitable rainy day washes out a plan, have an indoor picnic and read about proper summer days!

6) Then, go splash in as many puddles as you can find. Tell the kids their job is to get dirty.

7) Have a really inconvenient playdate. You know that friend who moved to the suburbs/across the state line/into a 4th floor walkup? The friend your kids love, who you never see because your schedules are so different? School is out. No more excuses.

8) Here is a writing exercise for you: Take a pen and paper (remember those?) and do some free-writing about your childhood memories of summer. Don’t filter, don’t edit. What you loved, what you hated, moments you remember. Put it aside. The next day, take a look and distill out which experiences you’d like to try to replicate for you kids, in feel if not in fact.

9) When you need a break from all the running and sunshine and doing, have a little Olive Us viewing party. After watching these sweet siblings having their gentle adventures, make your own Olive Us video! Or, super-easy version, download One Second a Day onto your phone and capture the essence of your summer, one second at a time. And while you’re at it, remember that it’s about the seconds, the instants, the bright spots. If a day dissolves into sweaty sibling squabbling, take a deep breath, and find the best second of it to focus on.

10) Let the kids get bored. Really. Learning to entertain themselves might be the most important skill they ever learn. (If they need a little guidance, check out this wonderful book How To Do Nothing With Nobody All Alone By Yourself.)

…and one thing you totally don’t have to do:

Have the Best! Summer! Day! Ever! Every! Single! Day! Don’t worry about what your kids aren’t doing (the beach vacation it seems like all their friends are having, or the extra enrichment classes their classmates signed up for, or whatever it is). Look at what you have, at what works for your family, at what is good about where you are and what you’re doing. Look at those happy seconds. That’s parenting, right? You do what you can with what you’ve got. And you’ve got summer.