8 Tips to Keep Kids Motivated and Moving During Summer

8 Tips to Keep Kids Motivated and Moving During Summer

Mary Jane Detroyer Summer Activities Kids

School is out! Kids are “free.” And if you’re like most parents, you’re not looking ahead to three months of down time. You’re probably surfing the net, trying to find out what you can do with your kids and not go completely mad or broke.

Those idyllic lazy-summer days we see on TV of kids running around, playing baseball in a lot, swinging over the calm river with a tire, and selling lemonade on a corner is more Hollywood myth than reality. We often hear our elders talk about “back in the day” when things were simpler. Safer. And they might be right.

Historically summer vacation was never really a “vacation” for kids, as the school year was built around the agrarian calendar so kids could work the farm with their parents during those hot summer months. New York City schools were open 248 days a year so kids could attend when they had the time. (www.pbs.org).

This school year never changed, even though society did, and most kids don’t work the farm over summer. So now three months of long days spread out ahead of kids and their parents. The reality is most parents can’t afford a “vacation.” A New York Times article from last Sunday discussed the reality and burden of “summer” for most families.

Though I don’t pretend I can resolve your summer problems, I know how important it is for you to keep your children engaged and active in a safe environment. Living in New York City offers a wealth of possibilities to keep kids busy and safe! Though some of these won’t work in every city, many of these summer activity ideas – almost all of which are free – can be modified to fit your city.

Mary Jane Detroyer Summer Activities KidsAnd while you’re juggling work and summer, perhaps some of these ideas might help you slice some time out to get your kids moving and active. Here are 8 tips to keep kids moving and active over the summer.

  • You Burn More Calories Reading, Writing … Thinking … Than Watching TV:  Less TV really does make you burn more calories. So, if your kids can’t be outside and playing, make their inside hours count. Public libraries host summer reading programs, story time, kids science club, movie club, book clubs and more. Talk to neighbors and teens in the area and set up library carpooling to get kids there safely and back. If it’s within walking or riding distance, all the better! Get your kids active (walking to the library), their brains and curiosity buzzing, and know they’re in a safe place.
  • Walk the Museum Once a Week: Check out local museum times and schedule a weekly visit to the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and more. Just walking through the exhibits is a great exercise. Arrange to pick your kids up after work, or at lunch.  Teach them the buddy system so they stay together!
  • Long Daylight Hours = Late Park Time: Take advantage of long daylight hours. Who says playing has to happen during the day? If you can schedule park time after work with your kids, playing a couple of hours into late evening. Bring a brown-bag dinner with sandwiches, fruit, and cookies so there’s no dishes and more relax time together. It’s summer! They don’t have to get up early, and winding down at the park playing catch, tag, hide-and-seek and more is great for everyone.
  • Get Cleaning and Get Moving: Kids can help! Vacuuming, dusting, doing laundry, prepping for dinner by cutting up vegetables, making a fruit salad with a honey yogurt dressing, or preparing the marinade – all of these are activities most kids can do unsupervised. So get them busy at home with a to-do list! That will free up your after-work time and give you the chance to have play time with them when you come home.
  • Get Kids In the Business Frame of Mind: Spending money means freedom! Encourage your kids to start up an aluminum can collection business, small dog walking business, make and sell crafts (like bracelets, knitting hats, decorating picture frames). Have them create a business plan and set daily and weekly goals. Treat their work like a real business, and watch them get moving and get motivated!
  • Mary Jane Detroyer Summer Activities KidsSo You Think You Can Dance?: Now’s the time for your kids to shine! Have them make up choreographies and put on dance shows. Put on music instead of the TV. Move, move and move!
  • Burn Up to 600 Calories an Hour in the Garden:  From mowing the lawn to raking, weeding, and hauling rocks, every summer garden project takes lots of energy and builds muscle! If you have a community garden or a garden at your home, have your kids sign up to work there.
  • Volunteering Keeps Kids Moving: Have kids sign up to volunteer at the local theater, community center, retirement home or soup kitchen. Give your kids something to do that has meaning, keeps them moving, and instills in them a sense of community.

Finding ways to keep kids motivated, moving and safe is a struggle for most families. With a little imagination and lots of juggling, it’s possible to create these safe places for your kids to make the most of their summer without driving you crazy.