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Ahhhh, summer. It’s a two-edged sword. It’s nice to finally be able to go outside without bundling yourself and the kids up in three layers of warm clothes. After a long winter, there’s very little that’s quite as satisfying as the feeling of the warm sun on your skin.

If only that feeling could last. By the time July rolls around, you’re lying on the couch, drenched in sweat, unable to move, and dreaming of snow. Meanwhile, your kids tug at your hand, which droops limply over the side of the sofa cushions, and every five minutes they remind you that there’s nothing to do!

That’s one of the beauties of summer: nothing to do. Your kids are home from school, their days aren’t so structured, so your free time and their free time are much more likely to line up even if you’re still working all day. I’m here to help you make sure that summer is filled with bonding, memories and simple fun that will solidify the bond in your family. Nothing crazy. No vacations. Just simple things that can be done at the spur of the moment.

Make homemade popsicles and smoothies.

Who doesn’t love an icy treat in the summer? They help to cool your body’s internal temperature, and they can be a healthy snack! Most store-bought options are either loaded with sugar or cost an arm and a leg, but if you make your own, you can keep them affordable and nutritious! Pour juice into popsicle molds. If you don’t have molds, then you can just fill an ice cube tray, cover it with plastic wrap, and poke toothpicks through to use as sticks.

Using frozen fruit makes a healthy smoothie easy and doesn’t require any additional sweeteners. Just mix your favorite fruit or berries with milk and blend for about 20 to 30 seconds. You can add more milk to make the consistency thinner or some yogurt or bananas to thicken it up a bit.

Hidden lessons in this activity:

  1. There is satisfaction in self-sufficiency and creativity.
  2. Not everything comes with instant gratification.
  3. Healthy food can taste good.

Make sponge balls for a water fight.

Sponge balls are cheap and easy to make. All you need is a few sponges and some string. Using a sharp knife or a pair of scissors, cut three normal, rectangular sponges into about 5 strips, about a half inch wide, then place them on top of each other in three layers. Tie a piece of string or floss around the middle of them and knot them together tightly. Fluff them into a ball, soak them in water, and use them as soft projectiles for a summertime snowball fight.

Hidden lessons in this activity:

  1. You can create fun from anything.

Go swimming.

Going to the pool is one of those summertime activities that just never gets old. No matter where you live, most towns have a public pool you can visit. If you really want to make swimming a part of your family’s life, search “pool builders near me” and start the process of installing a pool in your own backyard. The kids can swim while you relax by the poolside and get some reading done, or you can even do the unthinkable—dive in and play with them!

Hidden lessons in this activity:

  1. You can be physically active without having to be competitive.
  2. The swimming pool leads to awesome creative play.
  3. Swimming is an awesome confidence-builder.

Keep an aloe plant handy.

When you and your kids are spending so much more time outside in the sun, there’s a good chance that someone is going to get a nasty sunburn. Keep an aloe vera plant in a pot by your kitchen window, and assign your children to water it once every week and a half to two weeks. The plant only needs water once the soil dries out at least two inches below the surface.

If someone gets a sunburn, cut one of the leaves from the thick base of the plant. Cut the leaves in half “hot dog style,” then score the insides to get the plant to release the natural aloe gel. You can rub it directly on your skin to treat sunburns and other minor irritations.

Hidden lessons in this activity:

  1. You can grow things and be self-sufficient.
  2. The earth provides amazing solutions to many problems.

Make a homemade air conditioner.

If your air conditioner isn’t working or your cooling bill is going through the roof, try a simple project. Take a cheap, styrofoam cooler and fill it with ice, leaving a few inches of space at the top.. Cut holes in one side above the fill line, and another hole in the top. Attach an electric fan so that it blows into the box through the top. When you run it, it will push the cold air from inside the cooler out and help to cool off a room.

Hidden lessons in this activity:

  1. Science!
  2. Problem-solving isn’t boring and useless in real life.

Round up your kids and start putting these ideas to the test. You’ll end up with excellent memories and countless opportunities to teach your children. That, my friends, is priceless!

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