Bust Boredom, Not the Budget
Even though some states have been lifting Covid-19 restrictions, travel isn’t on the agenda for many Americans this year. As a result, most of us will be staying close to home this summer, which is an overwhelming, somewhat depressing prospect, particularly after having spent all spring furloughed or stuck toiling from the home office, in some cases cooped up with family members or trying to navigate virtual learning with kids. If you’re planning on staying home this summer—with or without kids—try a few of these 20 budget-friendly activities to help you beat boredom and have a little fun!
Make Healthy Summer Snacks
Get creative in the kitchen by making summery snacks like healthy ice pops, frozen yogurt, fruit kabobs, and more. This can be a great way to kick your quarantine junk food habit or teach your kids about nutrition and cooking while mixing up some tasty hot-weather treats!
Make "Chalk Bombs"
For a colorful twist on water balloons, make "chalk bombs." Just fill water balloons with a mixture of two cups of water, five tablespoons of cornstarch, and a few drops of food coloring. Let kids mix their own colors for extra fun, and keep things tidy by using old soap dispensers to fill the balloons. Once the "bombs" are ready, see who can throw a balloon the farthest, or draw targets on the sidewalk and have everybody take aim, or just let the kids smash their balloons on the ground. Tip: Mix colors and fill balloons outside to prevent an indoor mess!
Letter writing is a great way to maintain connections with family and friends, express love and gratitude, and (of course) practice handwriting. Encourage your kids to pen letters to grandparents, relatives, and friends. You, too, should reach out to family members you haven't seen in a while, or even write a letter to your past or future self. Take advantage of this opportunity to use up any stray greeting cards, postcards, or stationery you may have lying around.
Liven Up a T-Shirt
Decorating your own T-shirts can be a fun and inexpensive activity. Tie-dying is a go-to summer entertainment, but you can also use fabric markers, fabric paint, glitter glue, or any other materials that hold up to washing. Not a T-shirt fan? Decorate homemade blankets or masks instead!
Go on a Nature Walk
Whether you go solo or with the entire family, get out and immerse yourself in nature. Let your kids take photos of interesting things along the way, or bring along pencils and paper so they can sketch or write about what they've seen—bugs, birds, plants, historical landmarks, or whatever captures their imagination. When you get home, you can research whatever you weren't able to identify on the trail. Make a day of it by packing a picnic.
Sculpt with Clay
Shaping clay is a wonderfully tactile activity, and clay can be used to make so many practical or decorative items. Kids and adults alike enjoy molding coasters, coiled pots, vases, pencil holders, and other fun objects. Depending on the type of clay you use, your creations can be either air-dried or baked in the oven, and then painted. Always follow the directions on the product packaging for best results.
Related: Kid-Friendly DIY: 10 Projects Sure to Inspire Summer Fun
Have Fun with Water
On really hot days, chase boredom away (and tire out the kids) by setting up sprinklers or a homemade Slip 'n Slide, or organizing a water balloon fight. If you have older kids, let them wash the car (under supervision)—just make sure the windows are up and the sunroof is closed first!
Pitch Camp in the Backyard
No need to head to the nearest national park when you can simply set up a tent in your yard. A stone's throw from your house (and convenient to your bathroom!), you can build a campfire, roast marshmallows, tell stories, sing songs, gaze at the stars, and count the lightning bugs. You can even set up a projector to watch a movie under the night sky. Just be sure to supervise the kids around the fire, and don’t forget the bug spray!
Related: 12 Ways to Vacation in Your Own Backyard
Set Up a Rainy-Day Reading Nook
When summer storms threaten, carve out a cozy corner of the house to serve as a reading nook. Everyone will enjoy having a snug spot to curl up with a good book, ideally with enough space to accommodate a reading buddy or pet as well. If your kids aren't particularly keen on reading, give them an incentive by promising a more tempting activity—say, building an indoor fort with cushions, pillows, or cardboard boxes—if they read for 20 minutes first.
Devise a Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are excellent for getting kids thinking and working together toward a common goal. Come up with a series of clues that will send your kids through your house and yard in search of a special prize. Place that prize—a few pieces of candy, a new toy, or maybe even just a coupon that lets them pick that night's dinner—at the end of the challenge, but don't overthink it. The fun is in the finding.
Take a Self-Care Day
Treat yourself to a "me" day—one where you don’t work, don't run errands, and don't do chores, but instead simply focus on yourself. Go for a walk, make a delicious and healthy meal (or order out), light a candle, soak in a tub, apply a face mask—do anything that helps you slow down and unwind.
Related: 8 Ways to Make Your Bathroom More Spa-Like This Year
During daylight hours, summer is all about fun outdoors. But after the sun goes down, break out the board games. Everyone has their favorites—strategy games, card games, party games, word games, classic roll-and-move games. To ensure a fun, drama-free evening, consider the ages and skill level of the participants before you decide what to play, and have the kids help make special snacks for the game fest.
Consider a Virtual Summer Camp
To impose a little structure on your children's summer, consider signing them up for a virtual summer camp. There are plenty of options online to suit a range of ages and interests. You can even cobble together a summer's worth of activities through different camps. And remember, summer camp isn't just for kids: Adults can sign up for online book clubs or virtual yoga retreats!
Keep a Journal
Do you remember your dreams? Would you like to catch them before they fade away? If so, use your staycation to start a daily journal where you can capture your dreams while they're still fresh in your mind. After you've collected a few months' worth, you can revisit some of the older ones for a little entertainment. Not into this idea? Try a gratitude journal instead. Each morning while you're sipping your tea or coffee, write down three things you’re thankful for, and get the day off to a great start!
Build a Bike Obstacle Course
For kids who are a bit older and can ride on their own, try making a bike obstacle course at home. You can use objects to create obstacles, or, if you don’t have the room for a course, you can still have safe riding competitions. Try who can go the slowest, bike limbo using a pool noodle, or use sidewalk chalk to draw a course. You can even make water balloons and have kids aim for them when riding!
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