Maximizing Summer with Your Children: The Power of a Summer Fun List

Summer is a magical time for families. The days are long, the sun is shining, and the opportunities for adventure are endless. Yet, without a plan, summer can slip away, leaving parents and children alike feeling like they missed out on the season’s potential. Wendy Galyen, founder of Thrive for Life Counseling, has a solution: creating a Summer Fun List with your children. By utilizing this approach for the last 16 years with her own children, she has found this to be a simple yet powerful tool that can transform your summer, ensuring it’s filled with joy, connection, and unforgettable memories.  Be sure to grab your FREE Summer Fun List for your family today!

The Magic of a Summer Fun List

A Summer Fun List is exactly what it sounds like—a list of activities and experiences you and your children want to enjoy over the summer. The beauty of this list is that it’s tailored to your family’s interests, making it a personalized guide to summer fun. Wendy Galyen emphasizes that involving children in the creation of this list is key. "When kids have a say in what goes on the list, they’re more excited and engaged," she says. "It also gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility for their summer."

Summer Fun List Activity Ideas

Wendy shares some of her favorite activities from past Summer Fun Lists she created with her own family:

  1. Backyard Camping: Set up a tent in the backyard, roast marshmallows, and stargaze. It’s a simple yet thrilling adventure for kids.

  2. Beach Day: Pack a picnic and spend the day building sandcastles, collecting shells, and splashing in the waves.

  3. Nature Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of items to find in nature, such as a specific leaf, rock, or insect. This activity can be done in a local park or even your own neighborhood.

  4. DIY Craft Day: Gather supplies for a creative afternoon. Whether it’s painting, making jewelry, or building a birdhouse, crafting is a great way to spend quality time together.

  5. Library Visits: Schedule regular trips to the library to discover new books and participate in summer reading programs.

  6. Travel: Whether local or international, multi week or weekend trips, trips can be a powerful way to make memories.

  7. Mini Golf, Top Golf, or Traditional Golf: There are a multitude of golf-related opportunities for all skill levels and ages.  

  8. Museums: From children’s museums to art museums there are lots of family-friendly options to provide cultural experiences.

  9. Sports: As a family, try a new sport.  Pickle ball and ultimate frisbee are great options for varied ability levels. 

  10. Bike or Hike: Explore your neighborhood on foot or wheels.

  11. Sport Events: Major and minor league baseball and soccer games can be a fun activity for all ages

  12. State and County Fairs: Local fairs offer a variety of activities, foods, animals, etc to enjoy as a family.

More ideas are pictured below!  Thrive would love to hear the ideas that your families brainstorm and experience this summer!

Expanding the Summer Fun List Idea

The idea of a fun list isn’t just for summer. Consider creating a Fall Break or Winter Break Fun List to keep the excitement going throughout the year. These lists can include seasonal activities like visiting a pumpkin patch in the fall or building a snowman in the winter. The goal is to continually find ways to bond as a family and make the most of each season.

Balancing Fun and Responsibilities

Summer is also a great time to teach children about balance. Wendy suggests incorporating a Summer Chore List alongside the Fun List. "Before children get technology time, they can complete a few chores from their list," she advises. This not only helps maintain a tidy home but also instills a sense of discipline and responsibility. Chores can be age-appropriate and might include tasks like:

  • Making their bed

  • Watering plants

  • Helping with meal preparation

  • Cleaning their room

  • Sorting laundry

  • Emptying the dishwasher

Tips for Creating Your Summer Fun List

  1. Brainstorm Together: Sit down with your children and brainstorm ideas. Encourage them to think of activities they’ve always wanted to try. Go through local magazines and websites to find creative activities that are nearby.

  2. Mix It Up: Include a variety of activities—some that are quick and easy, and others that might take a bit more planning. This ensures there’s always something to do, no matter how much time you have.

  3. Be Flexible: While it’s great to have a plan, remember that spontaneity can lead to the best adventures. Use the list as a guide, not a strict schedule.  Also leave blank spots on your Summer Fun List to add additional activities as the family thinks of ideas later in the season. If you do not complete all of the activities, do not worry.  Let these carry over to next summer’s list.

  4. Celebrate Your Adventures: At the end of the summer, look back at all the fun things you did. You can even create a scrapbook or photo album to remember the special moments.

Creating a Summer Fun List is a powerful way to maximize your time with your children. It encourages family bonding, keeps boredom at bay, and ensures that everyone has a say in how they spend their summer days. As Wendy Galyen’s experience shows, the memories made through these activities are invaluable. So grab our FREE Summer Fun List template, gather your family, and start planning your best summer yet!

For more tips on family bonding and creating meaningful experiences, visit Thrive for Life Counseling.