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*** This article first appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Traverse Bay Family Magazine.   It is reprinted with permission.***


With school out & summer activities (or just plain boredom) taking its toll on your time, it’s good to have a bit of a plan to have some ALMOST spontaneous fun.  I’ve created a short stack of fun things to do to create some spontaneous fun for the kiddos.

1.  Water balloon attack.

Depending on the ages and tolerance of the kids, you could hose them down while washing the car or watering the garden.  You could hide some long range squirt guns and attack them on a hot summer day.  Or you could really plan and have a bucket of water balloons ready at a moment’s notice!  Make sure you are prepared for the retaliation!

2.  Impromptu picnic.

When it’s too hot to cook, stop at a grocery store deli for an impromtu picnic.  Our family loves fried chicken, potato salad, Hawaiian rolls and Simply Lemonade, but the possibilities are endless.  You can find sandwiches, cheese, meat & cracker trays, and even sushi at the grocery store!  We keep a small set of disposable plates, utensils, napkins and cups in our van at all times so we are always ready.

3.  PJ ice cream trip.

Pick a night when the kids just really aren’t ready to go to sleep & put them to bed anyway.  Give them a few minutes & then get everyone up for a pj ice cream run.   If you have older ones who are in bed well after the littles, bring them in on the planning–have them help their siblings with shoes or message delivery!

4.  Make ice pops.

If you don’t have any ice pop molds, go get some — every mega-mart, grocery store & dollar store has them.  Find a handful of yummy ice pop recipes using ingredients you normally have on hand or go buy what you need.  If your kids are the creative sort, have some juices or pudding mixes and fillings on hand for custom creations.  At the time of this writing, you can get a book of ice pop recipes from Kohl’s for $5 as part of their Kohl’s Care’s book program.

5.  Go for a swim.  Fully Clothed.

Despite the fact that there are only about 10 nice days all summer, we are prepped and ready to go all summer.  Our beach bag holds towels, swimsuits, sunscreen, and anything else you may need for a trip to the beach. If you don’t have room in your car for all that, you should at least keep some towels in the car for spur-of-the-moment swims.  No swimsuit?  No problem!  Kids have a tendency to go from ankle-depth wading to drenched anyway.  Be a little prepared, say yes & be prepared for cold, happy, drenched kids :).  You could even join them!

6.  Play in the rain.

This one is the best & cheapest one in the whole list.  Next time it’s raining — preferably warm & without lightening — go out & play in it.  All of you!  Skip, puddle jump, sing, play hide & seek, whatever strikes your fancy.

7.  Indoor camping.

If rain is cramping your style, camp indoors.  Dig out your sleeping bags, make s’mores on the stove in the microwave, have some hot dogs and chips and watch a movie.   Sleep on the floor until you can’t take it anymore and then crawl in bed while the kiddos are asleep J.

8.  Dessert first Thursday. Or Friday.  Or whatever.

Every time we go to Disney (yes, we go whenever we have the chance), we always make it a point to have a dessert-first day.  Why not try it this summer?  If you can’t bring yourself to go all out, you could make a fruit cobbler and serve a la mode.  Your kids will think you’re the greatest parent EVER if you eat dessert first.


Jen S.





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