What Should I Do With My Kids This Summer? Have a Retro Summer

Family playing board game at home

If you are anything like me, you may be thinking to yourself, *what in the world am I going to do with my kids this summer?*

I have also been asked this question quite a lot as the school year is coming to an end. So, after thinking of thinking about it and sitting around the table with my family reminiscing about our childhoods, we came up with the ultimate list of recreating our childhood summers - think 1980.

Make this a summer to remember!

Here are some ideas from our childhoods to make the summer manageable, even memorable for you and your kids.
1. Play outdoors: Get your kids to play with water hoses, water balloons, set up a slip and slide, tag, cops and robbers flashlight tag, and freeze tag. 
2. Family game nights: Old school style - do puzzles, play cards (think Uno), bingo, musical chairs, kick the can or stickball.
3. Family movie nights: Create a list of your favorite movies growing up and create fun movie nights with the candy you ate, soda you drank, and of course the classic movies you love.

4. Backyard camping: Set up a tent in your backyard (or basement or bedroom) and roast marshmallows (or microwave them) and create smores. Tell ghost stories, play with an Ouija board, and try levitating each other chanting, "light as a feather, thin as a board!"
5. Campgrounds, fishing, hiking: Try exploring the great outdoors for a day or a week. Go tubing, rafting or other lake, river, and water activities. Climb trees, skip rocks, and play with dirt!
 Build and create: Use recycled goods- up-cycle the cardboard boxes that are coming in daily and let your kids create forts, robots, and anything they can think of.
7. Cooking and baking: Get an easy bake oven, make rice crispy treats, try canning fresh jam and jelly, make Kool-Aid, make jello and pudding from boxes, and if all else fails just make homemade ice pops!
8. Plant a vegetable and or flower garden: It doesn't take much space to start a garden. Pick something that would be fun to watch grow and start soon. It will be an exciting part of your summer to watch what you planted grow. And hopefully, it is something you can eat or cut and bring in your home.
9. Neighborhood play or talent show: For those of you who did these you remember the fun and excitement. For those of you who didn't, you may have missed out but can rally your community or family. You can even make a decade theme like the 1950's- think Grease!

10. Bike riding, go-karts, big wheels: Remember the fun of a Green Machine or Huffy Big Wheels? They still sell them so treat your kids to the fun that you had as a kid cruising around the block or racing your friends. 
11. Print photos and create a summer scrapbook: Last but not least, take pictures, maybe on a Polaroid or "real" camera and print them. Make a summer memory book complete with pictures, stickers, art, letters, and memories.
Happy Parenting!


About the Author

Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, Parenting Expert & Columbine Valley Resident

Sheryl Gonzalez Ziegler, Psy.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Author, Speaker, National Media Contributor, 9-News Parenting and Mental Health Expert, and Podcast host to Dr. Sheryl’s PodCouch and local Non-Profit Board Member at The Tennyson Center for Children. She has been treating children and families for over twenty years with areas of expertise in anxiety, trauma, divorce, stress management, and depression.

Dr. Ziegler is the author of the best-selling book, Mommy Burnout: how to reclaim your life and raise healthier children in the process, the winner of Best Parenting Book of 2018 as awarded by International Latino Book Awards. She is currently working on her second book, Good and Ready: what parents urgently need to know about puberty, mental health and middle childhood, which will be published by HarperCollins in the winter of 24/25.

This article originally appeared in the May 2024 issue of Stroll Columbine Valley.