Inside: Fourteen ways to have an old-fashioned summer your family will always remember.
They say that nothing changed summer more than TV and air conditioning. They both make it all too easy to sit in a climate-controlled room all season and stare at a screen. And when you do that, summer loses its magic and becomes just like every other day.
Want to change that and make sure you and the kids have a summer full of memories? Don’t worry; there’s no need to be miserably hot and give up your smartphone for life.
Here are the best ideas for a vintage-inspired season… that still work for today’s world.
Table of contents
Set up some water fun in your backyard
Nothing says summer fun like playing in the backyard. But when that backyard is hot and sticky, it’s not so fun. The good news? All you need is a little water and a relaxed attitude to make summer afternoons that much more enjoyable.
Let the kids invite some friends over and put two chairs in the shade for the moms.
Set up a water balloon fight, a kiddie pool, or just play in the sprinklers.
It’s surprisingly fun and wears the kids out! Even mom can join in.
Start a garden
A garden is a classic summertime project. And if you can’t do a big one, that’s okay! It’s just as fun to grow herbs and tomatoes in big pots in a sunny corner. There’s just something special about growing it yourself.
If it’s your first time, start small. (Use one of these plans and set up one 4 x 8 garden bed.)
If you’re more experienced, go big. A vegetable garden is a special thing and makes your summer really feel like summer.
Set up a lemonade stand
Nothing says old fashioned summer fun like kids at a lemonade stand!
And if you live in a place where it’s not practical to set something up on the side of road, just do one at home. Let the kids sell you some lemonade for a few cents. Why not?
Go on a road trip
It doesn’t have to be long and complicated. If you can’t afford an elaborate summer vacation, a change of scenery is still nice. Plan a day trip somewhere close by just to check out a nearby town, or spend a few nights somewhere you’ve never been.
Don’t forget that part of the fun of a road trip is enjoying the journey. Be sure to make long stops and take the scenic route.
Play outside at night
Summer nights are special. And even though being outside in the dark means the kids have to stay up suuuuper late, it’s worth it!
Try letting them stay up at watch the stars come out and then play flashlight tag, catch fireflies, and make happy childhood memories. Let them invite some friends over for extra fun.
Eat what’s in season
One of the best things about summer is all the fresh produce. And whatever your favorites are, they are likely to be in season now. So enjoy all the fruit and veggies that you love. Some of the things that are best in the summer and no other time: corn, tomatoes, watermelon, and cherries.
If you feel inspired to preserve some of summer’s bounty, do it! But if not, just enjoy it while it lasts. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Even though this summer activity requires a lot of the parents, it’s worth it! Kids and adults enjoy a little adventure, and summer is the perfect time to enjoy warmer nights, campfires, and some fun camping recipes.
Play card games
Card games are fun and simple on a hot afternoon. Pour some lemonade, sit in front of the fan, and enjoy some mindless entertainment for a few minutes.
Your kids won’t even miss their devices.
Make mud pies
Fun, free, messy. What’s not to love? For some reason, if you tell a little person to go outside and make mud pies, that sounds more fun to them than “go play outside”.
Need some inspiration? My little ones have loved the classic Mud Pies and Other Recipes cookbook for years.
Make homemade ice cream
All you need is cream, eggs, milk, and sugar, plus whatever flavoring you want to add. (Kids love making cookies and cream ice cream if you need a good recipe!)
Not into all the churning? Popsicles are fun too, and all you need is juice, a stick, and and some clean containers.
Go on bike rides
Nothing says old fashioned summer fun like neighborhood kids riding around on their bikes all day. Remember just being turned loose and roaming the streets on your bike? Well, I never actually did that but it seems like a thing from summers past, doesn’t it?
If that’s not a reality where you live, try heading somewhere for a bike ride. Not quite the same as a free-range bike adventure, but still fun.
Recommended summertime fun:
- The Mudpie Cookbook gets the little ones focused on an easy outside project.
- The Rock Painting Book for Kids: it’s fun to paint and the rocks are fun to hide.
- A rotating arm sprinkler is practical for watering the lawn and, most importantly, the best style for playing in!
Set up a scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt is one of those fun and timeless games that all ages of kids can enjoy. With a quick trip to the dollar store, you can build a prize that the kids will be excited to find. You can also try making things like painted rocks and hiding them.
After a while, you might discover that siblings will stand making scavenger hunts for each other, which saves you some work!
Limit the screens
Yes, your kids might might be bored and whine. You probably were bored and whiny as a child. It’s okay. You might be surprised with the ideas that they come with after a few whiny days.
And don’t forget to limit your time on devices too.
I know, I know: the bugs, the heat, carrying all the plates back and forth. It can be a pain. But a summer dinner outside is one of the best things in life. There are so many times you can’t eat outside, take every time you can and enjoy it.
Of course a picnic is the most fun of all. But if you can’t manage that, just paper plates on the deck are perfect.
Don’t forget that some of the most classic summer fun came from being bored. Enjoy the season!