School's nearly out for the summer, a fact which understandably fills American children with joy. But many parents will react with a groan. With so much free time at their kids' fingertips, boredom will certainly ensue. It's not all about learning loss, either; although a certain amount of boredom can actually be healthy, too much can often lead to excessive social media use and general inactivity. Since your child's health and happiness are likely among your top priorities, you'll want to do everything you can to keep them active over the summer. Struggling to come up with ideas?
The ones below can lay the foundation for healthy habits and allow your kids to have an incredible and memorable vacation.
Make Your Backyard an Activity HubEven if your kids never leave your property, they can get lots of exercise and have a chance to be creative. By transforming your backyard into Playtime Central, you'll entice them to go outside whenever they get the chance. Create an obstacle course with hula hoops, jump ropes, and playground equipment or create a three-ring circus complete with tumbling mats, a fake tightrope, and feats of strength. The sky's the limit when it comes to your ingenuity here. You can even encourage your children to create their own space and switch things up every week or so. If you have the space, you can set up a volleyball net or some other yard games to encourage the whole family to take part in the fun.
Limit Screen TimeIf you want your kids to be active, you'll need to take away their digital distractions -- some of the time, anyway. Children now spend more than 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen, which is a frightening statistic for many parents to learn. While technology can provide us with a lot of convenience and knowledge, relying on tablets, smartphones, and computers for entertainment can result in higher levels of inactivity and even physical ailments (like headaches, eye issues, and more). Two hours of screen time per day should be the limit for your kids. Enforce this restriction for everyone in the household and come up with activities that are phone-free. Take a walk around the neighborhood at dinner or a family bike ride through town, while leaving your gadgets at home.
Consider Summer Program EnrollmentSummer programs can be a great way for kids to stay active, learn new skills, involve themselves in social activities, and retain some structure. Routine is likely more important to your kids' health and happiness than you realize. And while these programs don't have to be completely educational, keeping your kids' brains stimulated during the summer can allow them to build upon what they've learned during the year. Whether it's a traditional summer camp, a daytime program through your local library, or community center courses, these programs can allow your kids to choose an area of interest and keep moving while giving mom and dad a bit of a break.
Cool Off in the WaterThere's nothing quite like taking a dip on a scorching hot day. Not only is swimming enjoyable, but it's also the fourth most popular sports activity in the nation. You can head to a community pool, take a trip down to the lake, cool off in a pool at your gym, or go to a splash park in your area. Swimming lessons can be an excellent option as well since they can keep children active while allowing them to make new friends and acquire new skills. It can also motivate your children to eventually become a lifeguard, help them watch out for younger family members, or teach others in the future. Your kids will have so much fun splishing and splashing that they probably won't even realize the amount of exercise they're getting. As a bonus, they'll be so worn out that they'll sleep better at night.
Nurture a Kid-Friendly GardenIf you already love to garden or your landscaping could use a facelift, why not create a child-friendly gardening area? Digging in the dirt can be highly therapeutic and allow your kids to learn about different species of plants, wildlife, and weather conditions. Cultivating a love for the outdoors is especially important in a time wherein our environment is relying on us to be good stewards. Planting vegetables, fruits, and your children's favorite flowers -- and involving them during selection, weeding, tending, and harvesting -- can be a wonderful way to ensure your kids have an appreciation for nature and for sustainable living practices. Best of all, you can use the foods you grow in the garden in your family meals, which your kids will love eating due to their involvement.
Ensuring high levels of activity -- especially in kids who would rather laze around -- can be tough in summertime. But by getting everyone involved and making these events more of a reward than a chore, you can help your kids change their thinking and their habits during school vacation.