There’s a good chance you’ve had to cancel more than a few plans to accommodate pandemic life in the new normal. I’m bummed about travel, but I also feel really lucky to have time to spend with my kids. I find it difficult to keep up the positive energy without a plan, so I made a list of summer activities you can do during COVID-19 that you can keep coming back to. Balance the endless days stuck in the house with a few outdoor adventures or trying something totally new. Enjoy these extra moments by yourself or with your kids with a few creative ideas.
Ride on a Bike Trail
For a safe outdoor activity, find a nearby bike trail you can explore. There may be several trails you can test out alone or with your family, or send your kids on an adventure while you catch up on some work from a picnic table.
Build an Outdoor Art Installation
Start with some clips of outdoor art made with natural materials on the web. Google Andy Goldsworthy. Then find a natural, outdoor space and get to work with what nature can give you to create. This is a relaxing way for you to get in touch with your creative side, and your kids will surely enjoy getting crafty.
Field Day Competition
This is one of my favorite summer activities for kids during COVID-19. Let them be in charge – tell them to come up with several competitive events that you can do in the yard with whatever sports equipment or household objects you have. Raise the stakes by making the adults compete against the kids and having a prize for the winners that includes service. If you have a neighbor who can peek over the fence as a style judge, even better.
Find a Star Show
There are upcoming astronomy events that may be visible from your house. Plan a late night viewing of the Perseids meteors, or if that’s not possible, just look for a spot that you’ll be able to get a great starry night. This can be a great date night, me time or something new for the kids. Go when the moon isn’t full (unless that’s what you want to see), and look for an open area that is far from highways, cities or well-trafficked roads. I’ve found some great spots especially near small air-fields.
Play Old-School Games
For outdoor play, check out Bocce, croquet or badminton. Part of the fun is making fun of yourself as you try to master a new “sport.” Assign older kids the task to research some games and teach everyone else how to play. Once everyone is comfortable with the rules, set up brackets and have a tournament.
Plant a Garden
Planting your own garden can be possible, even without a yard. Research plants that work in the space you have for growing, how to take care of them and you’ll have a healthy herb garden in the kitchen in no time. It’ll be so gratifying to use your own herbs in your cooking. If you have an established garden, give your child the responsibility of a particular plot and allow them some options to experiment with their space.
Offer Pet Services
This works best if you don’t own any pets, as your kids have probably asked for a dog a million times like mine have or maybe your building doesn’t allow pets. Neighbors are often grateful for a doting, regular, dog-walker.
Learn an Instrument
Pick up a guitar, a small electronic piano or a set of drums, if you are particularly brave. There are so many apps and YouTube videos to assist just about anyone with time and energy to learn. Electric pianos are especially nice for the headphones-only option.
Take a Road Trip
Research this one carefully. There are many beautiful sights all across the United States, but you’ll want to read up on current orders in any state you are planning to visit. There are many outdoor places, like national parks, that are open, but they will have limits on visitors and restricted hours, so manage your expectations. Check out the underrated, out-of-the-way sights rather than the most popular spots. Letchworth State Park is called the “Grand Canyon” of the East, for example, and not as well-trafficked as the other Grand Canyon. Tennessee Valley, California, is fairly close to San Francisco but has beautiful, secluded beaches. Buy a large pack of disposable masks in case laundering is difficult during the trip, and check out some family road trip essentials. You can lessen your risk by camping along the way.
Make a list of a dozen or so restaurants offering takeout that you’ve never tried. Pull up their menus and roll the dice to choose a few places to order one dish or plate each. You’ll be able to go for a drive for pick up, and takeout is a great way to try new flavors without too much pressure. Bring the takeout back to the house and picnic in the living room, family style. Don’t forget about Rakuten Dining (5% Cash Back at participating restaurants nationwide) and Rakuten Takeout (20% Cash Back at participating restaurants in the SF Bay Area).
Wherever you go, be respectful of others and keep everyone healthy by social distancing. Stay safe this summer.
Mariko is a high school English teacher who has three children, illegible handwriting and an obsession with mail-order artisan ice cream. She lives in Hawaii, but she makes a point to eat her way through big cities as often as she can.