14 Summer Activities to Strengthen Family Relationships


Summer is coming up soon, it’s easy to think about all the sun, fun, and the relaxing benefits of summer vacation. While vacations can create lasting memories of fun, laughter, and enjoyment, not all families have the money (or time!) to travel. Additionally, as many of you know, COVID has also continued to restrict many family’s travel plans.

With things beginning to get back to normal, there are still some challenges that exist for many families. Kids out of school during the summer, parents continuing to work, and schedules being naturally off the regular routine, families on tight budgets may gravitate towards grabbing fast-food in a pinch, leaving kids are to be entertained by the TV, video games, phones, tablets and have limited time to engage with their families.

Research shows the importance of parents’ engaging in connection through time, activities, or daily interactions have significantly healthy and stronger bonds with their children.  Additionally, spending more time together as a family, even with small interactions can have a profoundly positive effect on the quality of the parent-child relationship and has supported the child’s progress in therapy.

So shut down the computers, power off the tablets, and silence the phones. Below find fourteen ways to come together without busting your budget:

Outdoor Activities:

There are so many benefits to going outside. Not just for a change of scenery but going outside enhances children’s physical and mental health.

1.     Plant a Garden – Teach your kids more about where food really comes from. This one is not just great to get the kids outdoors, but there are tons of opportunities to infuse a few science lessons and pride when their garden begins to bloom!

2.     DIY Field Day – Who doesn’t love field day? Pillowcases work well for a sack race. You only need an egg and spoon for a spoon race. Use a ribbon, yarn, string, or shoelace to tie two legs together for the three- legged race. There are so many fun races to choose from! Collaborate together and LET THE COMPETITION COMMENCE.

3.     Backyard Camping – Set up the tent, make smores, and let them feel like they are really camping. You can study the summer sky with an inexpensive telescope or a pair of binoculars. Add a little joint research about what to look for in the summer sky, you and your family can gaze in awe at the wonders beyond planet Earth. Even if the kids end up in bed for the night it will be a night to remember.

5.     Scavenger Hunt- Plan a themed scavenger hunt. Develop interesting clues that encourage real problem solving. The options are endless. Also check Pinterest for some ideas.

6.     DIY Water Park – Water activities are always a hit with the kids! Just a few online purchases (a slip ‘n slide, baby pool, splash pad, water balloons, etc.) can turn your backyard into a mini water park. PRO TIP: use lots of soap to make everything super slippery and sudsy. Play some music and you’ve got a really fun afternoon.

Indoor Activities

As wonderful as it is to get outside, remember Texas can get hot rather quick. For rainy days or just to take a break from the intense sun, these creative ideas just might make them forget that they’re at home.

7.     Science Project – Volcanoes, crystals, chemical reactions oh my! Science experiments offer kids amazing opportunities to learn cool stuff but feel like they are just having fun. Want to skip some prep? Look up prepared science kits to save time.

8.     Talent Show or DIY Theater- The great thing about theater projects is that there are so many different options that fall under theater, and you can work on different parts to make it a full day event. For older kids, you might encourage them to work independently on scripts or a comedy routine then come together at lunch for a table read. For the more musically inclined kiddo, have them create their own song, with lyrics, music, and more.

9.     Get Crafty- YouTube is filled with kid friendly art projects. There are tons of fun artsy fun activities you can do together as a family without spending a lot of money on supplies. Recycle paper towel rolls into amazing art using some of these ideas.  Get creative with egg cartons, popsicle sticks or empty oatmeal containers. To prepare for a range of art projects, stock up on art related supplies. PRO TIP: be sure to designate an old sheet or tablecloth as the official draping for whatever surface is used for those messy art projects. It’s probably safest to designate a specific area in the house (or outside) for these types of messy projects.

10.  Improv Activities – There are a wide range of improv based games that kids can learn that can be used to provide a refreshing break from screen time or combine to create a fun afternoon. Spontaneous exercises can really promote creativity and increase childrens comfort level in front of a group so the skills obtained in this activity are twofold and can benefit them for years to come.

Themed Family Nights 

One of these themed family nights can turn a hum drum night at home into a memorable event. The key to making this successful is to really go all out. Additionally, the adults just might end up having more fun than the kids!

11.  Movie Night – You will get infinite cool points with the kids for showing movies in the backyard. All you need is a simple projector and screen. Allow everyone in the family to list a favorite movie (or a couple] on a strip of paper, then put them in a hat and draw a new selection each week. BONUS POINTS if you have snacks and attire to follow a theme.

12.  Dance Party- Go through the decades and dance your night away. Dancing is a fun way to relieve stress. To bump up the fun even more, consider recording the group’s favorite and (if everyone is okay with it) post it on social media.

13.  Game Night – Instead of relying on the same board games, pick a new one each week. Another way to create variety is to play your childhood favorite games – Twister, Battleship, Clue, Risk, Operation to name a few. Introducing them to your children broadens their options and also creates a trip down memory lane for you.

14.  DIY Cooking Competition – Imitating your own “Chopped” or “Great British Baking Show” style competition can be fun, easy, and definitely bring on the challenge of the competition. Pick 3-5 key ingredients, identify the contestants and a judge, set the clock and Bake! Make it more exciting by introducing crazy ingredients or selecting a cool theme. The options for this can be unlimited and if the meals can actually double as a real meal, this could be a parenting win-win. 

Written by: Kaitlin Cross, M.S., LPC

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