School’s out, and the kids are in—because it’s hot. Real hot. But, you know, not enough to actually affect all that energy ricocheting off the walls of your house—and the furniture, and your dog. If this kid doesn’t get out, patience, sanity, and woodwork may not survive.
So I’ll offer a few ideas for energy release. But hey, be a pal! Comment with your own suggestions for the rest of us survivors!
Author’s note: This probably goes without saying, but consider the age-appropriateness of each of these activities. And please don’t forget to establish some common-sense rules to keep these ideas safe, fun, and regret-free. (We’ve got kids, right? We’ve seen how they can creatively interpret our “great ideas.”)
- Pray for wisdom and patience!
- Grab some big buckets of water and containers for an instant outdoor water fight.
- Establish a healthy routine of wrestling with Dad.
- Put a crank ice cream churn to good use, and have them take turns cranking until their arms are worn out. Bonus: homemade ice cream and the skills to make it!
- Encourage your older kids to volunteer at VBS, a sports camp, a local park, or other activities that will wear them out in wonderful, service-oriented ways—and activities they enjoy.
- Depending on your conviction about your kids using play swords, etc., Nerf weapons can be a great release of aggression (and training in courage) for kids responsible enough to handle them.
- My husband was the first to point out to me—the product of an all-sisters household—that there’s a reverse correlation between boys’ outdoor activities and discipline issues! Often, physical activity lessens the behavioral issues at our house. For testosterone-related household misdemeanors, consider physical activity as a consequence: laps around the outside of the house or yard, jumping up and down for a minute, push ups, wall-sits. (Time out has the opposite effect for us!) Of course, don’t let exercise only be associated with being in trouble…
- Suggest reenactment of their favorite action cartoon/movie on the lawn. Don’t forget water bottles.
- Create indoor olympics competing or reaching a “personal best” on running up and down the stairs, the most creative jumps off a stool, tossing stuff into a distant laundry basket, etc. Hand out small rewards. Most of my kids for one (for four?!) are seriously motivated by competition of most sorts.
- Practice summer reading and math skills with active learning games. For example, place flashcards in two spots in the living room, then have him run back and forth reading one word or giving one answer from each pile while you time him. Or, have him jump rope while skip counting. Of course, that combines the physical and competition, which is a win-win for my sons! Search for “active learning games” in your favorite search engine for countless additional ideas.
- Turn on the sprinkler, get on their swimsuits, and let em go!
- Explore week-long sports camps, day camps and other summer sports in your area.
- Consider allowing preset time with active video game software.
- Take them to an indoor playground: you get to cool off with an icy beverage, they get to run it off somewhere else besides the living room room near the breakables!
- Let them camp outside at night…or under the dining room table!
- Wear them out at the pool…public or water hose filled kiddie!
- Set aside one room of your house for a romping room. Nothing breakable, lots of space, nothing likely to draw blood.
- Play active games like Twister.
- Check out your local area’s summer activities. Library reading programs, children’s museums and festivals which can offer some fantastic preplanned activities, on someone else’s lawn, or at least a chance to walk off some steam.
- Go ahead and go on that shady hike, or take them to the park, but plan wisely ahead of time: Go at the coolest time of daylight; bring a cooler of cold drinks; wear hats and sunscreen; carry along spray bottles to mist warm bodies and clothes. Make a mandatory number of drinks for each kid to consume. The worn-out kids will sleep better, and even though you’re sweating now, a cold shower is on the way! Maybe you can motivate yourself with the company of another desperate friend.
- If they are watching movies, hit stop every now and then and challenge them to do physical activities – How many push-ups can they do? Run in place! Wall sit! Get them moving every now and then!
- Spray on some bug repellent and play games at twilight after the weather has cooled down some: touch football, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, or whatever your kids enjoy.
- Get them inspired to do sports, put on their own plays, perhaps take them to a baseball game or children’s theatre.
- Pull out the dress-up bin and give them a few suggestions to use it! Don’t forget stuff for boys like camp, capes, crowns and superhero gear!
- Move to a country like Uganda, where the weather is fairly wonderful year-round. (Sorry. Had to throw that on in!)
- Take turns having friends’ kids over, so that the kids all get a little change of company and environment.
- Make homemade bread or play dough – but let your kids do all the kneading!
- Make them choose a compulsory physical activity for themselves for 20 or 30 minutes a day. If they need help, create a jar full of ideas on slips of paper. Enlist your husband’s help. He is, after all, an expert on boy energy, or at least boys.
- Find a large sandbox nearby, or grab a bag of sand at a home improvement store and gather old containers to build sandcastles, road systems for matchbox cars!
- Make an indoor obstacle. course using pillows, cushion, chairs – whatever you’ve got!
Janel Breitenstein graduated summa cum laude from John Brown University and began her career with NavPress, where she worked on The Message Bible. After having four children she resumed her professional career (around her momlife) by serving as a writer for FamilyLife. In January of 2012 Janel and her husband, John, packed up their family of six and moved to Uganda to serve with Engineering Ministries International (eMi), an organization that focuses on poverty relief and development, providing structural design and construction management for Christian organizations in the third world. Join us as we all learn first hand, through Janel’s posts, what it’s like to go from suburban America, to answer God’s call in Africa!