It's summertime...and sometimes it takes only a little bit of effort to ensure that the living is easy. When we asked style maven Liz Lange to share her favorite family summer activities, this urban mom surprised us with a laundry list of simple pleasures.
"There are so many things we don't have time to do during the school year," Liz says. "Summer is when we do have time — or when we're more likely to make the time."
There's something a bit retro about her low-cost/no-cost summer activity suggestions. So think simple. Gather the kids and return to those lazy, hazy days of summer when you had nothing but time on your hands...
- Get an old-fashioned library card. No one does it anymore, it supports your community, and there's nothing like introducing your child to the solitary pleasures of the stacked shelves. Kids get a kick out of seeing their name on the printed card, they'll enjoy the power of checking out books, and of course, a little peace and quiet is always a good thing! Check with your branch for info on the special programs, author readings and books on tape your kids might like.
- Make an indoor fort. It's a great rainy-day summer activity. Help your child build a "clubhouse" in any small nook in your home. Closets work perfectly. Use sheets, blankets, pillows, flashlights. Print the ubiquitous "Kids Only" sign that every self-respecting clubhouse needs. Use it for reading or for indoor picnics. You might be surprised to find that your child spends hours in that cozy space created just for him.
- Pack a picnic. Make the food with the kids. Buy the food with the kids. It doesn't matter, as long as it's easy for you and fun for them. Have a scavenger hunt in the park. Have fun with water — and if there's no pool or lake, let the kids run through the sprinkler or spray them with a garden hose.
- Explore. Take short hikes in your community. Equip yourselves with sandwiches, gorp (mix nuts and dried fruits like raisins and cranberries), juice, water and binoculars. Bring a map of the area and hone your navigational skills. Visit the firehouse, the post office, the police station. Encourage the kids to interview the people they meet. Sit down with paper and pencils and encourage your explorers to write stories about their day. Compile their notes and let them distribute a "newsletter" on your block.
More in the great outdoors:
- Dress them in bathing suits and go puddle-jumping in the rain — because it's summer and you can.
- Fly kites — buy them or make them.
- Ride bikes.
- Blow bubbles.
- Feed ducks at the local pond.
- Dig in the dirt for worms — all a little kid needs is a plastic spoon, a Dixie cup, and a mom who doesn't mind!
- Roast marshmallows and make s'mores.
- Pitch an outdoor tent and camp overnight in the backyard.
- Buy chalk and mark up the sidewalk for hopscotch and tic-tac-toe.
- Set up a lemonade or cookie stand — and then help the kids pick a community charity to donate the profits to.
Stuff She Loves: A Few Summer Activity Must-Haves
For the family:
- Crayola sidewalk chalk (because it's quick and easy entertainment)
- Styrofoam pool noodles (because they're colorful, fun and safe)
- Shrinky Dinks (because the kids just can't get enough of them)
- Coppertone Water Babies sunscreen (because it's necessary)
- L.L. Bean tote bag (for hauling the kids' stuff )
- Havaianas flip-flops (in all different colors)
- Beach towels by Waterworks (especially the ones decorated with palm fronds!)
- Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer with UVA and UVB protection (because it makes her look tan and matches her skin type)
- Sunglasses by Morgenthal Frederics (because they're fabulous)
- KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer (because she loves to bake)
- Neutrogena sun stick (because it's portable)