Love summer but hate the mess that kids bring into your home? Maybe you WANT to be the mom who lets your kids run through the sprinkler or make mud pies, but you just can’t deal with the laundry or grass everywhere in your home!
Trust me, I get it, mama!
While it’s important to keep your kids busy in the summer, wouldn’t it be nice to keep your home clean at the same time?
These are some of my favorite (mess-free) activities to do with the kids every summer.
For even more mess-free activities, check out my Systems to Organize Summer (S.O.S.) printable pack! It’s filled with 260+ pages of chore charts, activities, and tips to stay organized all summer long! Learn more here:
Have a picnic
Pack a meal – breakfast, lunch, or even dinner, a waterproof blanket (I just bought this one and I’m in LOVE), and head out to your backyard or a nearby park.
Go to a park
Are you seeing a theme? If you visit a park, you can leave any potential messes behind.
Our local parks have “tot lot” during the summer, and they have daily activities and crafts for kids.
Bonus points: if your kids are old enough, pick a bench where you can see them and then read or listen to an audiobook while they play.
You can also throw their bikes into the back of your car so they can ride while you run or get some exercise behind them. Our favorite park has a walking trail that loops the park, so I let my kids run ahead as long as they stay in the same half where I can see them.
State parks are another thing worth checking out. Each state has a website dedicated to their state parks and sites.
Your state park may have special summer programs, tours, and other fun activities for the family, too!
If you plan on visiting state parks frequently, consider getting a yearly pass. You may be able to get discounted passes at libraries and tourist centers, or your state may offer an annual pass when you renew your driver’s license.
Visit a local lake, pool, or campground
You can usually get inexpensive day passes to local campgrounds or state parks. Take the kids swimming and hose them off before letting them back into your car.
Pack extra towels for them to sit on or even a change of clothes so they don’t get your seats wet!
On a rainy day, burn off some excess energy by visiting your local YMCA or indoor pool.
Go to a library
Does your local library have a summer reading program?
Call ahead or look online to see if there are special events or summer activities for kids, in addition to a list of books or a challenge for kids to read over the summer.
Almost all libraries host summer reading challenges for kids of all (reading) ages and the kids can win prizes. Many libraries will also host kick-off parties and various events throughout the summer to get kids interested in reading.
Check to see if your local library has programs for your kids based on age, or just take them to explore the library and get a stack of books to read during “quiet time” while their younger siblings take naps.
Some libraries have game rooms where kids and adults can play board games. They may also have computer games specifically for younger kids.
You can even meet up with friends and hang out talking quietly and checking out books, movies, or even digital audiobooks or ebooks.
Many libraries offer various activities for kids of all ages and even adults. From book readings and crafts to movies and magic shows, use your library as a fun family outing.
Take arts and crafts outside
Keep the mess out of your house.
Make younger kids a rice or water table, and let older kids paint, play with Play-Doh, and even use kinetic sand OUT of your home.
If you’re having a play date, set up tables outside and let the kids move through stations where they can paint rocks, play with kinetic rock, or even paint a bird house or other wooden craft.
Visit the zoo
Whether you take your kids to a petting zoo (pack hand sanitizer!) or a traditional zoo, a zoo is a great place to let kids see new animals and learn about their surroundings.
But best of all, your house will stay clean while you’re out and about.
Go to a water park or splash pad
My daughter is so allergic to grasses and seasonal allergies that she couldn’t play in our blow-up pool or slip and slide last summer. 😭
However, as a mom who HATES the grass that comes into my house with the wet kids, I have to confess that I didn’t mind getting rid of the slip and slide. 😉
Our local zoo and a couple nearby parks have splash pads, which are a fun (allergy-free) alternative to backyard pools.
You can get a membership, but many have cheap (or free) daily rates.
Pack a picnic (and some dry clothes) to make a day out of it!
Have a lemonade stand
My kids have been begging to have a lemonade stand this summer.
While there are cute pre-made lemonade stands, you can DIY your own with a simple table, chairs for the kids, and cute tablecloth.
Don’t forget to get the supplies ahead of time, like cups, napkins, and of course lemonade!
Try an indoor sport or activity
Visiting an indoor playground is a great option, especially on rainy days.
Your local mall may have some fun toys and activities for the kids, or check to see if there’s an indoor bounce house near you.
Your kids may also love to try bowling, tennis, or even an indoor batting cage.
Check local movie theaters and regular theaters to see what performances and shows they offer.
Visit a museum
Museums are great for rainy days and many have special exhibits for kids during the summer.
Spend a rainy afternoon exploring art or local history and end it with a picnic lunch at the museum or an early dinner at a favorite restaurant.
Encourage the kids to put on a play, dance recital, or concert. Help them make costumes, give them construction paper to “sell” tickets, and let their imaginations run wild!
Have theme days
You could also have “theme days” and choose a different topic for each day.
For example, on William Shakespeare Day, your older kids could read one of his plays, fix English food, and end the day by watching Romeo and Juliette.
Younger kids could have a themed animal day, like reading about llamas (where they live, what they eat, etc.), eating “llama food,” and doing “llama crafts.” Have a popcorn party and watch Llama Llama before bed.
Transform your room
Let your kids build a fort, make an obstacle course, or have a slumber party in the living room.
While this activity isn’t necessarily “messy,” you may want to use older pillows or couch cushions for the fort and obstacle course. 🙈
When the weather gets warmer and your kids are home for the summer, what activities do you plan to do with them?