Whether you have big or little kids, chances are that one or more of them will be all up in your business with nothing to do at some point during the summer. If you’re really lucky, you’ve got one or more at sleep away camp — hallelujah! However, those inevitable lulls between camp and school will pop up sooner than you know it. So, we’re here to help you nip those “I’m bored” complaints in the bud! Behold, seven days worth of ideas to help you run “Camp Mom” this summer.
Keep it cool
With summer temps reaching their heights this month, take this opportunity to get up and cool down. No matter where you live, there is bound to be a beach/lake/swimming hole/public pool/water park/splash pad you can take advantage of. Pack up the car with all your wet and wild essentials — towels, sunscreen, bathing suits, dry clothes, a picnic lunch — and splash around for the day. If you’re LA based, try the Grand Park splash pad (Downtown), Coldwater Canyon Park stream (Beverly Hills), or the Annenberg Community Beach House (Santa Monica).
Learn something new
The time has come to finally take the kiddos to that museum you’ve been meaning to visit. Many towns and cities have children’s museums, but you can expand their horizons even more by taking them to an art or natural history museum. You’d be surprised what they will take in and how the experience of being in a hushed environment will be an interesting novelty, even for very little kids. There is no shortage of great museums and art galleries in LA, try LACMA (Mid-Wilshire), Museum of Tolerance (Beverlywood), MOCA (downtown), The Broad (downtown), Natural History Museum, or the California Science Center (downtown). Go out for a special lunch or dinner afterward to talk about all the new things you saw and learned.
Broaden your scope
On day three, venture out to a brand new neighborhood, ideally with a different cultural feel than your own. Experiencing a totally new environment together will be bonding and invigorating. Any large city will have a variety of cultural centers to explore. If you’re from a smaller town, perhaps consider a road trip to a nearby town you’ve never visited. If you’re in the LA area, you’re lucky enough to have a wealth of diversity right outside your door. Head downtown to explore Chinatown or Koreatown. Wander on Olvera Street, reportedly the oldest street in LA and boasting the city’s first brick building. For bonus points, take the Metro!
You’ve had a lot of adventures this week already, so take an intermission with some down time. However, being homebound doesn’t have to mean chores and screens. Get creative in your space! Set up an obstacle course in your backyard or share a meal in a giant fort made out of furniture and bed sheets. Find a few large canvases or hang an old sheet up against a fence outside and paint a mural together. Explore the kitchen and bake treats to share with friends and neighbors, wash the car, wash the dog, wash the floors (that’s a win-win right there!) You want to spend time at home in a whole new, interesting way.
Mingle with the animals
Ok, time to get back out there! Today, focus on animals. Whether it’s the zoo, the aquarium, Sea World, or even just a really great pet shop, get your kids interacting with as many animals as possible. We love the LA Zoo — small enough to get around in just a couple of hours but with an excellent variety of animals. For an added bonus, you can feed the giraffes! The Aquarium of the Pacific is a must-see with over 11,000 ocean animals. But really, a couple hours checking out fish and puppies at your local Petco is pretty thrilling!
Get a new perspective
It’s really fun to give your kids the opportunity to see something in a whole new light — or at a whole new height! No matter where you live, there is bound to be someplace you can go for a breathtaking view. In the wilderness or in the middle of a bustling city, seeing their world from above fascinates kids. Thanks to LA’s hills, there are plenty of great views to behold. Head to Griffith Observatory (Los Feliz), the Getty Villa (Malibu), Greystone Mansion (Beverly Hills), OUE Skyspace (Downtown), or any of the many hiking trails throughout the city (Franklin Canyon, Temescal Canyon, Fryman Canyon, Bronson Canyon, Baldwin Hills, etc.)
Well, well, well. You’ve made it through almost an entire week. Wasn’t this even more fun than you thought it would be? On the final day of Camp Mom, dig deep and use the last of your remaining energy. Plan the ultimate scavenger hunt in your neighborhood. Tailor the scavenger hunt to little kids or big kids, and involve as much or as little planning as you like. Simply explore your neighborhood and discover new things in a familiar environment.
Try collecting things, taking photos, food sampling, or a mix of everything! A simple idea would be to make a list of things that can be found out in nature or in public spaces (3 rocks the size of your hand, 5 pinecones, 10 pennies, etc.) for small kids. You can get as complex as writing out cryptic clues for older ones and involving local shops and businesses. Think hard about a prize that would really surprise and delight your kiddos when the tasks are complete!
Congrats! You did it! Now send those little ones back off to camp or school and try out these frozen cocktail recipes, mama!