Summer brings high hopes for fun, fresh air, and family memories. But if we’re honest, sometimes we have days where those high hopes leave us asking ourselves: So … what are we gonna do now? Here are some answers.
1. Enjoy a walk at a new park or trail
There is nothing better than exploring a new park or trail with little ones. They get so excited about seeing new things, exploring new places, and discovering new wildlife. Find a park or trail near you that perhaps you haven’t explored yet, and head out with your toddler for a nice walk. Be sure to bring your stroller with you, as your toddler’s little legs will likely tire at some point, and they’ll want to grab a ride for part of the time. If it’s a hot day, you’ll want to bring along lots of water for all of you, as well as a stroller fan to keep your child cool while they rest. Pack some snacks and toys, and make a day of it!
2. Visit a pool or splash pad
Public pools and splash pads are great ways for your toddler to cool off in the heat of the summer. Many splash pads have shaded areas where parents can sit and keep a close eye on their little one as they paddle and splash in the sprinklers and shallow water. It also provides an opportunity for your child to become more comfortable around water, if they tend to be a little nervous. Splash pads often have very shallow areas for little kids to play in, which can help to build their confidence and comfort in the water. If you are taking your toddler to a local pool, be sure to bring a life jacket or other flotation devices to keep them safe while swimming.
3. Enjoy some pretend play outside
Toddlers are just beginning to use their imagination when playing, and joining in on some of their pretend play is a great way to encourage this development. Follow their lead when playing, and see what wonderful adventures you can have outside! Children love to imagine and play games that mimic real life, and while this is all child’s play, as they say, when children engage in pretend play, they develop their cognitive and social skills, critical and creative thinking skills, as well as problem-solving abilities. So, bring out the stuffies and host a tea-party picnic. Make an obstacle course for their toy trucks and cars. Or play pretend restaurant, house, or store in your outdoor playhouse. Whatever you choose, just let your imagination run wild alongside your toddler’s!
4. Get out into nature
There is no better time than the present to introduce your toddler to the many wonders of nature, and to foster in them a love of the environment and a respect for all living things. It is so important to teach our children about environmental awareness and how we can help to make (and keep!) our planet healthy, and the best way to do that is to develop their love of the outdoors at an early age. Plant some fruit and vegetable plants, and get your toddler to help care for the plants and water them each day. Plant a butterfly, bumblebee, or hummingbird garden to attract these wonderful birds and insects and help to repopulate them. Go bird watching or make a bird feeder to attract visitors to your yard.
5. Visit local attractions
There are many local attractions that are often seasonal and therefore open only in the warmer months. Take advantage of this and get out to visit some of the attractions in your area. Bring your toddler to the local farmer’s market to check out the vendors and pick out some fresh produce, while supporting local farmers in the process. Pack a picnic and drive to a nearby town, choose a park to visit, and enjoy the sights and sounds as you nibble on your picnic goodies.
Whatever you choose, enjoy this time with your toddler, as it’s an exciting time for them! Many of these places and activities will be things your little one is experiencing for the first time. Soak in the summer moments and have fun!
By Cristin Howard, Smart Parent Advice