Well, it’s finally here. The beginning of the back-to-school season, jam-packed schedules, carpooling and sports practices. And with it, of course, comes the end of lounging on the deck, splashing in the pool, barbecues and late night stargazing. If the summer went by in a flash and the end is approaching a little faster than you’d like, rest assured - you’ve got at least one more week left to get in some fun times, and you’d better make it count. After all, you’ll want something to keep you going once the snow starts to fall…
If you’re not one of the lucky families that can get away for a last minute vacation, why not plan a ‘staycation’ right at home for you and your kids? You’ve got everything you need to have an amazing time that you’ll be able to look back on for months. You never know - it may just end up being the best week of the entire summer!
Check out this list of ideas to get you started, but remember, your options are endless! And hey, don’t be afraid to go big; last minute summer remodels can often be cheaper than in the prime of the season, and it’ll give you something to look forward to next year.
Inspiration for Summer Fun
- Take advantage of those end of summer deals on pool upgrades (from buying new lights/toys to a bigger remodeling project), take a day to fix it up, and throw the biggest pool party of season! Make it an all day event and invite neighbors and their kids to show up when they can, or take one afternoon/evening to play all those pool games you never got to over the summer. It can also be a great way to get all the kids who have been away at camp back together before school starts.
- Don’t have a pool? Try setting up an area of the yard for water play. Pick up an on-sale slip and slide, or simply set up a sprinkler or even just the hose. Kids love running and jumping through the water, and though you may end up with a little less grass and a little more mud in one area, fall lawncare typically includes applying fertilizer anyway.
- No pool also don’t have to mean you don’t get to party outside. Alongside the water play, the end of summer is a great time to upgrade your outdoor kitchen with new appliances or, if all you have right now is a grill, to build an outdoor kitchen. Things tend to be on sale as stores make room for fall gear and you’ll still be able to get outside to grill after the weather changes. Plus, along with having a blast, an all-day barbecue can give you lots of time to make some extra food for leftovers during that busy first week back…
- Is your family more team sports-inclined? Set up an area for whichever kind of sport you like - basketball, football, wiffle ball, soccer - split up into teams, and hold an all-day tournament. Invite others if you need larger or more teams, or play household against household if different brackets. And remember, it’s not about winning; it’s about enjoying these last days of summer. No sore losers!
- You may not be able to get away for a camping trip, but who says that means you have to stay indoors? Bring the tents and sleeping bags out in the backyard and have your own campsite (without so much worry from wild animals or other camping groups). You can use a fire pit for s'mores (think about adding one to your landscaping if you don’t already have one) and tell creepy ghost stories if your kids are into that. Plus, you still get to go inside for a real shower in the morning.
- If your kids are really into puzzles and adventure, why not set up a scavenger hunt for them around the house, backyard, or even the neighborhood? Theme it based on whatever your kids are into: a quest for young ‘royalty,’ an adventure for explorers, or even a mystery for young detectives. Make clues that all the kids can work on so they can use their teamwork and have a prize waiting at the end for the victorious scavenger hunters.
- Are you a little worried about your kids going back to school after a summer of playing (and not much book learning)? Get them excited about learning by setting up an at-home quiz show, with prizes and excitement for all the kids (and adults, too!). There are lots of commercial quiz shows to model yours after or create your own, and use that time to ask review questions from the last year of school. They’ll get caught up all over again without even realizing it.
- Finally, if the summer heat has got you beat and you can’t imagine spending a lot of time outdoors, get ready to crank the a.c. and set up your living room for a movie marathon. Installing a projector and screen for a home theater is really pretty easy (and you can always talk to an electrician if you’re unsure), though you can also rent projectors if you’re not sure about placement yet, and once you add popcorn and sweet snacks, you’ve got the experience without paying to sit in a crowded theater. Enjoy the show, and the last week of summer!