Like most of you, my summer plans have been affected by COVID-19. But as I sit here listening to the birds sing and feeling a soft, warm breeze coming in through the window, I can’t help but feel my spirits lift. It’s hard to feel sad when I take a walk outside, actually take the time to stop to smell the flowers and feel the sun on my face.
Many families have had to rethink their summer plans, but even with pandemic restrictions, there are some fun and safe ways for you and your family to make new memories and enjoy time together.
At the end of the day, the main thing is to have fun and not overthink or stress too much about the ‘perfect’ vacation. If the thought of having to make new plans is overwhelming or causing anxiety, take a break and come back to it later.
If you want some ideas for how to get your kids or your partner or yourself excited this summer, here are eight ideas to get you started.
Hold a mini track-and-field ‘Sports Day’ in your backyard:
Got some sporting equipment? Pull them out and hold your own mini Sports Day for the kids! Even if you don’t have ‘the right equipment,’ make do and improvise with what you’ve got. Kids need a way to release all that pent-up energy from staying at home and this is a great way to do it. Some ideas include putting markers (e.g. rocks or buckets) down to mark long jump events and stacking rows of canned food to in place of hurdles.
Organize a neighbourhood ‘fun run’:
Sure, physical distancing mandates means you can’t be within two meters of another person, but with some creative planning you can still have some neighbourhood fun. Here are some ideas on how to involve the whole family and neighbourhood in a fun run:
Invite neighbours to cheer each other on from their front door while each family does their ‘run’ around the neighbourhood. If your neighbourhood is small, you can take it in turns to do laps. It can also be an opportunity to raise money for a charity of your choice and a great way to get the kids involved in a community event. Pregnant and don’t want to run? How about a walk-a-thon?
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Grab some chalk and draw pictures on the driveway. Or play really big versions of classic games drawn on the driveway or sidewalk such as tic-tac-toe or snakes and ladders.
Take a snooze in the sun:
Is it safe for you to go to a beach? Maybe you can do a beach day (with sunscreen, snacks and water of course!) on a less busy day (e.g. midweek) and curl up under an umbrella for a nap… or read a favourite book. Beach too far away or off-limits? Set up your own ‘beach-stay-cation’ at home – on a balcony, in the backyard or front porch. Fill a blow up pool with water in the backyard to cool off with a book, hat and sunglasses, or splash around safely with the kids. With COVID restrictions relaxing, you can even plan to do this within a family bubble for more ways to have fun together.
Plant or pick flowers:
Yes, spring may be over but there are many other flowers you can try planting. Try some easy breezy perennials such as bleeding hearts and irises, or annuals like petunias and sweet peas. If starting from seed sounds intimidating, start from transplants. Or, forego planting altogether and go on a nature walk to pick wildflowers. Spending time in nature can make you happier and ease stress– something that’s great for both moms and kids!
Go ‘camping’ in your own backyard:
Even if you’re pregnant, this may be an enjoyable activity that you can engage in with your partner, kids, or another family/friend bubble. Camping has never been easier – choose a warm day, set up a tent and add lightweight blankets, rugs, yoga mat, cushions… whatever you need to be comfortable. We wouldn’t say no to a Muskoka chair or two either! This is glamping at its best, since camping in your own backyard means you get to keep all your usual amenities close by – running water, bathroom, snacks within easy reach. Bonus – you shouldn’t have to battle it out with as many mosquitoes as you would on a real camping trip!
Host a movie marathon:
Worried about your kids (or yourself) spending more time than usual in front of a screen? It’s been a tough few months and it is definitely okay to cut yourself some slack. Everyone’s routine has been thrown off so it is okay to give yourself permission to watch a little extra Netflix/Hulu/Disney Plus/Amazon Prime. Still worried about too much screen time? Make it memorable by proposing family night and instead of watching one random show after another, choose a TV show or set of movies the whole family can enjoy together. Star Wars, anyone? All that’s left to do is pop the popcorn, roast the hotdogs and settle in to make some memories together.
Enjoy the wildlife:
While zoo operating hours may be different than what they used to be, you can still take advantage of going to support your local wildlife center in various ways. Live close to the Niagara area in Ontario? Visit their drive-thru zoo experience. Download learning activities for kids hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium or watch wildlife webcams from Explore Live Nature Cams. Now is also a great time to set up a bird feeder to enjoy local wildlife safely.
Caring for your mental health and that of your family’s is important, and a big part of that is being able to get outside to enjoy the sunshine while keeping your family and yourself safe and healthy. So, go outside, bring your face masks, pack your hand sanitizer and stay two meters apart!