Keeping Kids Green and Busy While School’s Out

With the kids at home more, summer is a time that can be a little bit challenging for green parenting. Somehow you have to combat all the boredom that comes from having more free time, while facing the fact that the weather is warmer. Here are some of the things I do:

1. Try to get the kids outside early and late in the day.

I have a lot of sympathy for them wanting to be inside during the hottest parts of the hottest days. Who wouldn’t prefer that?

But even on the days that it breaks 100 degrees F around here there are times that they’ll willingly play outside. Rather than let them turn on the TV first thing in the morning, as they would love to do, I boot the kids outside to play. They can come inside when it really starts to warm up. Then I do it again when the day cools off sufficiently.

This also has the advantage of limiting the need for sunscreen. My kids generally aren’t out in the most powerful of the sun’s rays, so I don’t have to apply sunscreen to them so often.

2. Make homemade popsicles.

Sure the store has cheap ones, but they’re often little more than sugar water.

I prefer to make my popsicles from smoothies, but you could use regular juice or pudding if you prefer.

3. Hit the library.

Hot days are great for spending at the library. Get some new books for your kids to read while not having to run the air conditioning in your own home. The library’s there, after all!

4. Combine lawn watering with running through the sprinklers.

We have water restrictions starting up in our area, which means watering only on certain days and only after 6 p.m. and before 10 a.m. and only for 10 minutes per section on timed sprinklers.

On hot enough days, 6 p.m. is still plenty hot enough for running through sprinklers!

And of course there are always local swimming pools, beaches and so forth if you want to cool off during other parts of the day.

5. Crafts!

Within certain age ranges, it’s easy to come up with kids’ craft ideas. My kids love saving magazines and other things that might otherwise go into the recycle bin for a path through their crafting table first. Saves me a lot not having to buy everything they craft with, and the reuse is a great habit.

As kid get older, they may have particular ideas about what they will be willing to do, but if you find something they really enjoy making, try to encourage it.

6. Have friends over.

It won’t necessarily help to keep the kids cool, but having friends over certainly helps with the boredom factor. I always tell mine no TV or computer time with friends over.

7. Know when to give in on TV and computer time.

Really, it’s not the end of the world if kids watch a bit more TV or spend more time playing on the computer during the summer. What matters is that they get enough activity overall.