Summer Essentials

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We are in the final days before Summer Break, and could not be more ready! It’s that time in the school year where we are doing good just to stay pulled together, operating on survival mode.  The boys are on a whole different planet when they wake up, completely spaced out, staring at the wall instead of getting dressed or eating breakfast. My oldest went into the bathroom, turned on the water to brush his teeth, then just stood there for 10 minutes. I swear, I thought my husband was going to have an aneurysm today before we got them out the door this morning! What is it about the realization that school is almost over, that makes the entire year suddenly catch up to us, and makes us suddenly exhausted to the point of complete inability to function?

The first few weeks of summer are a magical time, aren’t they? Everyone is so excited about the freedom and sunshine! The kids (mostly) get along. Life is all Instagram worthy! Haha! Then, reality sets in, and pretty soon the kids are over each other, none of their toys are exciting anymore, the sun is too hot, and you’ll find yourself hearing the first “Mom, I’m BORED!” of the summer! Now, what???

I’m always in awe of this statement.  How can they be bored? They have a minor fortune invested in legos, we have all the equipment for every kind of sport they could want to play in the backyard, a full Nerf arsenal to wage WWIII, more books than we can count, and more. Bored?!?!?! 

Now, I’m sure, we drove our parents nuts complaining about how bored we were, but I don’t remember it! LOL! If my kids had their way, the “I’m bored” statement would be met with “well, honey, then you should be able to play hours upon hours of video games!” While they probably get more screen time than they should, I do try to exhaust every other option first by keeping a stash of different projects, books, and toys handy to go to when we need them.

I thought I would share some of our summer must-haves with you today before you get your first “I’m Bored” of the summer too! I should add the disclaimer, that these aren’t free or super crafty! If you’re after those ideas, you’re reading the wrong blog and following the wrong mom! LOL! But I do try to keep it all affordable!

Essentials for Outside

Whenever possible, I kick the kids outside! Especially early in the summer, before Texas becomes 150 degrees in the shade and is essentially the threshold of hell. My life drastically changed over this past year when I realized we were FINALLY to that magical point where I can tell them to go in the backyard and… get this… I don’t always have to go! I mean, yall… life changing, right there!

Bare Republic Sunscreen

1. Sunscreen

First things first, we have to lather up with sunscreen! With two extremely pale parents (who don’t tan, like ever, no matter how hard we tried), our kids know if they don’t have on sunscreen their little fair-skinned, blue-eyed bodies will burn to a crisp! We have a new favorite sunscreen which is the Bare Republic Mineral Citrus Cooler Sunscreen Spray. The boys can put it on with ease, and, as you can see from Luke, a little goes a long way! LOL!

They offer a ton of different options, and these are all reef friendly, so it’s perfect for an afternoon in the backyard, and to pack on your next vacation. It can be picked up on Amazon, at Target or on their website.

*** Save 20% off on all products on gobareoutside.com using the code MOMSMEET20. Offer valid until September 1, 2019. 

2. Backyard Games

Now for the fun stuff! I bought the boys a Corn Hole set for Christmas after they played it forever at an ice cream shop, of all places. My husband also loves it, and secretly I’m the best in the family, but it’s also a great game for the boys to play outside, alone, together! I bought a cheaper set because let’s be real, I have two young boys who are rough on everything we own. Maybe one day, when they’re older, I’ll buy a nice wooden set with the Cowboys Star on it!

Other great backyard games are classics like basketball, soccer, kickball, and catch. A few cheap cones and balls can set the kids up for hours outside with different games. If you want to get super fancy, you can get one of those cool Life Sized Jenga or Checkers.

3. Water Toys

Do you remember, back in our day, gearing up for a water balloon war would take more time than the actual war? I would spend hours in our pool bath, tying off balloons and putting them in a bucket just for 15 minutes of fun. Well, some dad had the amazing idea to get them to all fill-up and tie at the same time. Man! How I was I was that guy! When the kids are “bored” I sent them outside with some Bunch ‘o Balloons and let them have at it… with the caveat that they have to pick up each and every ballon after!

Our summers are HOT and our backyard isn’t quite big enough for our own pool, so we have to improvise with water toys. One of our favorites is a good, old fashioned Slip ‘n Slide! We’ve had different kinds over the years, and usually also add a blow-up pool to the mix, but have found that the basic straight slide with a few sprinklers is the best way to go! Anything too complicated just doesn’t hold up for the summer, and really isn’t worth the money!

4. Sprinklers

What kid doesn’t love to crank up the sprinklers and run through them? On an especially hot afternoon, I will run the back sprinklers for 15 or 20 minutes and let them just run crazy. I usually try to time it for right before they need to come in and get cleaned up for dinner. Otherwise, they get pretty dirty!

5. Outside Art Supplies

Crayola has really stepped up the Sidewalk Chalk game and Luke loves every bit of it! I remember just using chalk to trace ourselves or draw out hopscotch, but now you can do so much more with it! Crayola’s online shop can get you all set up for all of the outside art supplies you could possibly need!

6. Ready for War

Nerf

Nerf guns or Water Guns are an all-time favorite for the boys! We’ve collected quite the arsenal over the years. Sending the boys outside with 1000 Nerf darts or some water guns is a surefire way to a) keep them out of my hair for a while and b) get all the kids on our street to come out and join in the battle!

Summer Reading & Workbooks

The summer slide is a real thing. Kids can loose several reading levels over the summer if you don’t stay ontop of it with them. The trouble is, if it feels like work, they’re not going to want to do it! Finding the right summer enrichment material is 100% key. Kids need to feel entertained by what they’re looking at or the books will simply collect dust!

7. National Geographic

We were recently given the opportunity to preview some of NatGeo’s newest titles and I have to say, we LOVED them! We were given three titles to review, but really, you can’t go wrong with any of their children’s titles (especially the joke books)!

Luke really enjoyed Brain Games 2: Mighty Book of Mind Benders. He loves any kind of puzzle and books like this keep him entertained for hours. Of course, as a mom, I love that he’s learning something while being entertained. This book is great not only for summer enrichment but also for a road trip or airplane travel, or rainy days!

Landry is our King of Trivia and really enjoyed both the Almanac and Weird But True U.S.A. Explore wacky wonders, facts, stats, tidbits, and trivia about America’s 50 states and territories. Did you know that there is a floating post office in Michigan? Or that a library book checked out by George Washington was returned to a New York City library 221 years late? Maybe you’d be amazed to discover that the ink used to print U.S. paper money is magnetic? Take a tour through the wonderfully wacky side of the United States of America and encounter all kinds of bizarre people, places, events, and things that make our country great.

As the best-selling kids’ almanac ON THE PLANET, this year’s 10th anniversary edition features all-new content, interviews with renowned National Geographic explorers in each chapter, a special look at what was going on in the world when the first National Geographic Kids Almanac came out 10 years ago, plus the results of the 2019 Almanac Challenge — Lions Forever Poster Contest — and a new challenge for kids who want to get involved with helping our planet.  It’s packed with hundreds of photos and facts, crafts and fascinating features about animals, science, nature, technology, conservation and more.

As a special way to celebrate the 10th-anniversary edition of the Almanac,  Nat Geo is hosting a Summer on the Go Almanac 2020 Grand Prize Giveaway — a GO-PRO!   Enter Below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

8. Usborne Books & More Workbooks

From math to writing, and coding to future careers, Usborne Books & More has something for every young reader to help combat the summer slide! As I’ve shared before, my kids love working in This is Not A Math Book or writing in their Creative Writing Books.

We make it a rule in the summers that the boys have to spend 30 minutes reading and 30 minutes working on math or another subject every single day. This keeps their skills sharp to they go into the next school year completely ready to step back into the game.

Another way we encourage their reading is by giving rewards for meeting their goals. If they take care of their studying & chores every day, they earn a little bit of screen time. If they finish a whole chapter book or read a certain number of pages, we earn a fun outing like Dave & Busters or Mini Golf.

Summer Enrichment Activities

My other favorite ways we stay on top of our skills during the summer is by making sure our indoor activities have some educational value as well. There are all kinds of activities the kids can do inside that are both fun and educational and will keep the “I’m Bored” whine at bay!

9. STEM Activities

kiwico

One of our favorite activities comes monthly in the form of our Kiwi Crate. The boys love to see what is going to come in the box each month. They always include a STEM-based activity, as well as a magazine to read and a craft as well. Landry has really gotten into learning how robots and wires work because of these when, before, he had no interest in it at all.

While they’re always running wonderful deals and prices, right now KiwiCo has their memorial day sale and it is not one to be missed! Click below to check it out!

Memorial Day Sale: Up to 40% off everything!

If a monthly subscription box isn’t the thing for your family, there area ton of great options available to purchase, or you can always make slime! Be sure to stock up on all of the necessary slime supplies! LOL!

10. Cooking

cooking

One of Luke’s favorite things to do is to help us cook dinner! He loves chopping and mixing, and picking the herbs out of the herb garden. While I love that special time of bonding with him, what he doesn’t know is that cooking helps him learn so many things! The measuring helps with his math and fractions, we have to appropriately time everything out so he’s learning more about time, and reading the recipes to me helps with his early reading skills!

Some of our favorite kid’s cooking supplies come from Pampered Chef. They have fantastic mixing bowls, kid sizes baking pans, a pizza set, and so many great items that make a wonderful summer gift for a budding chef! We picked up a special Start to Cook book that has helped him learn some of the basics as well.

11. Art Supplies

painting
When painting, if you’re going to paint yourself then you must wear your bathing suit!

Our other favorite “I’m Bored” remedy is arts & crafts! While I’m not a big DIY crafting mommy (although I try sometimes), I like to have a handful of craft kits on hand for the kids to get out and mess around with. Luke has always loved painting, especially painting rocks. This year, I’m also planning to introduce these old beads we used to put together in shapes and patterns and iron to make them stick together. We used to work on them for hours! Hopefully the boys will find them entertaining too, lol! I’m also going to be getting Landry a few model airplane sets. He’s just hitting an age where he’s a bit too old for Legos but he still loves putting things together. The history buff side of him should really enjoy putting together planes like the B-17!

Inside Fun

While I love the kids to stay outside as much as possible, sometimes we are forced inside. In Texas, if we get rain in the summer, it is in the form of major storms! We will be trapped inside for hours waiting it out. Alternatively, sometimes the heat becomes too much and it’s simply not safe for us to play outside in! Making sure we are ready to go indoors is really important, or otherwise its only a matter of time before someone gets into trouble!

12. Board Games

My other favorite response to “I’m Bored” is to hand the boys a board game! If you follow us on Instagram, you know family game night is a pretty regular occurrence in our house. We love to play all kinds of games, and any time the kids can beat the parents is a good time in their world!

The sillier the game, the better in our opinion! We try to make sure we have a family game night at least every couple of weeks, and in the in-between time, the boys will brush up on their trivia so they can be sure to beat us the next time we play!

Our favorite games are trivia based! Again, if I can get them to use their minds while we play, it’s an extra bonus for me. We love games like Beat the Parents or 5 Second Rule. The kids also love Mario Monopoly which is a crazy game where the only part resembling Monopoly is owning properties and the game shape… Otherwise, it’s super fun, just don’t lose the rule book!

13. Costumes

In our house, Costumes aren’t just for Halloween. My kids love to dress up and transform into someone else! Nothing bonds them together like working together to fight off evil forces.

Costumes

Letting their imaginations take over, and dressing up gives them the chance to not only live out their dreams of being a super hero or dastardly pirate, but it works their minds in ways ipads or even books cannot! Their imaginations create entirely new lands, work through dialogue and allow them to problem solve their way through whatever dilemma they dream up, keeping their minds sharp all summer!

14. Research a Passion Project or a Vacation Subject

Oh man, this one sounds like school work, doesn’t it? Make up a different name for it if you need to! Passion Project Discovery, maybe? The idea came from one of Landry’s teachers this. He has had her two years in a row and she has completed each year with a passion project. They’re given a wide range of topics from the year and asked to pick one they are most passionate about to research and create anything of their choosing around it. It’s amazing to see these kids come to life when they’re allowed the freedom to pick what they want to present!

Landry choose to make a WWII B-24 out of toilet paper rolls and foil this year! It came from researching his Great-Grandfather’s war story! He already has plans this summer to make an entire fleet and reenact some of the battles that my Pops wrote about in his diary.

The kids have loved researching destinations we are going to visit, finding out the unique history of the area, or learning about its wildlife. Luke always gets into learning about ocean animals if we are going to visit the beach!

15. Legos

If your house is like mine, your kids have thousands upon thousands of Legos but they will always claim they need a new one, or don’t have any! How can they possibly not have anything to build?!?!?! They have every piece imaginable!

Clearly, our Legos are not even REMOTELY organized like they should be, which is probably part of why they don’t just go in and build. But, did you know that you can go onto the Lego website and find all the instruction manuals for old sets? I know that we have every kind of piece in that pile. Maybe not all the right colors, but the pieces for sure! They could build anything they wanted to.

Part of my challenge to the kids this summer is going to be to build something totally new and random from the Lego website every week. Pick a castle or a spaceship or whatever, and find the instructions and build it! Let’s see how many things we can build from that gigantic pile in their room!

Follow the link below to the Lego online store to see all the great ideas and offers they have!

FREE SHIPPING every day on orders over $35!

Bonus Essentials

chore charts

I’ve shared a bit about Landry’s ADHD and how chore charts are essential so he can manage his day and expectations. In the summer, they’re essential for both kids! Before they tell me how bored they are and ask me for video games, they have to make sure they’ve checked off all of their chores for the day. Amazon has a huge variety of charts that you can use to help your kids learn responsibility and earn that screen time during the summer!

Speaking of chores and having kids pick up, did you know Norwex has an entire line that is suitable for children? Do they use their shirts, or anything else to wipe hands or faces on? These hand towels are absolutely adorable and will let your kids wipe and go, hopefully forgetting about how easy it was to wipe on their shirts! Haha!

Kids will love the cute animal motifs and the cuddly softness of these chenille microfiber hand towels, made just for them. You’ll love the antibacterial properties of BacLock®.  Designed to inhibit odor from bacteria, mold and/or mildew growth within the towel.  The convenient hanger makes it easy to hang anywhere including a stroller handle, and it’s great for when you’re on the go! Dries quickly so it’s ready to use again. Check out all of the great things they have to offer for kids here!

While I don’t have girls myself, one of my favorite activities was painting my nails when I was growing up. One of my most favorite photos of I’ve seen of my niece recently is of her painting her nails, and everything else, while on daddy’s watch! I can’t help but laugh when she gives my brother a run for his money!

I’m about to order some fun nail designs from Color Street to help him save his furniture! LOL! I recently discovered Color Street from a friend of mine and have loved trying out the colors on my own hands, and was super excited when they released their new, slender line, that’s perfect for smaller hands! If you have girls, what a great way to spend an afternoon with her! I know my niece would love any of the fun glitter designs so she can look like a princess!

summer snacks

Another summer essential is to be ready with all the food. My kids eat enough for an entire army over the summer, partially because they’re growing but also because they’re so much more active during the day than they are during the school year. We also take Landry off his ADHD medicine over the summer so he will be more prone to eat. Pampered Chef has great snack tools with items like a snack bar set, popsicle maker, ice cream maker, and a popcorn maker! You’ll be all set to feed your hungry troops!

Another great product for little girls (and moms) are these wonderful hair accessories from Lilla Rose! I know plenty of little girls with lots of long crazy hair that they do not want brushed or messed with because it gets all tangley after they have been playing. I don’t blame them! I have that problem too! The products are perfect for summer because hot sweaty hair on your neck or tangled hair after a swim is no fun. Their flagship product, the flexi clip, comes in 7 different sizes so it works for all types and lengths of hair.

When all else fails, take them to a pool and let them burn as much energy as possible! What do you do to keep your kids entertained at home over the summer? Do you get crafty? Or do you take my approach and try to have as much on hand to entertain them as possible so you don’t have to come up with something on the spot?

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Junell

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Eileen | 6th Jun 19

    These are some REALLY good ideas! Our kids are a little too young for some of them, but I can’t wait to have these ideas for future summers! So far, sidewalk chalk and water play has saved this summer!

  2. Amanda | 4th Jun 19

    These are the best ideas! I am always looking for someway to keep my niece occupied when I babysit her. Thank you!!

  3. Shanan | 3rd Jun 19

    great summer tips!

  4. T.M. Brown | 1st Jun 19

    Great list!!! Here’s hoping you have an amazing start to your summer with the family!

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