Summer Activities for Co-Parents


School is out. All of the assemblies, concerts, and graduations are done and summer stretches invitingly ahead. For co-parents, even if a big family vacation is in the works, there will be long periods of time that both will need to fill. All parents want to spend time with their children, making memories and having fun, but co-parents have unique schedules and limited funds, so here is a list of activities that can help everyone have a fun time this summer.

Before engaging in any activities, though, both parents should take time to compare schedules. They should make sure they each know the dates and times for overnight camps, day camps, and daycare, as well as the dates of family vacations either parent may have planned. That way, neither plans special activities at the same time. Once everything has been finalized and the details hammered out, the fun can begin!

You don't have to have a lot of money to have fun with your kids. There are great activities that cost very little or are even free. Here are a few:

  • Picnics – This means taking all your own food, not using the grills provided by parks. And no fair picking up fast food! This is a good chance to get your kids interested in cooking and nutrition. Let them prepare the meals they choose, including desserts. Motivate them by picking up a wicker picnic basket at a discount store.
  • Sidewalk chalk – No matter how old they are, kids like to draw. Give them different colored chalk and the driveway or sidewalk for a huge canvas and they will be creative for hours.
  • Day trip – Is there something of interest nearby? A festival? A historic site? Take a day and drive over. Check it out!
  • Water balloon fights – Yup, the old summer classic. Cool off and burn off some of that excess energy. You can even have water balloon fights in the rain!
  • Water gun tye dye – Hang white or light colored t-shirts on a clothes line. Fill water guns with water colored with non-toxic food dye, then fire away! The kids will have a memento of your summer together.
  • Outdoor movies – Set up a large screen laptop and pick a movie to watch under the stars. Feeling brave? Dig up a video of your downloaded family movies. (“Hey! Big hair and tube socks were cool then!”)
  • Backyard camp-out – As long as you're outside, why not pitch a tent and sleep under the stars? Sleeping bags, flashlights, whatever you have on hand. Don't buy anything special, unless you want or need to.

Other things you can do include:

  • See a performance – Many community theaters give performances of children's plays or family friendly plays. Some productions are even held in parks.
  • Learn something new – Community education centers, parks, and libraries offer such things as swimming lessons (what kid turns down swimming?), arts and crafts, computer skills, comic book art, and creative writing. Some community colleges even offer cooking classes for kids.


The Cheese Head Game is popular with tweens and teens. You'll need:

Plastic shower caps or rain ponchos with hoods

Shaving cream


Kids divide into teams of two. The first team member puts on a shower cap or poncho, then covers their head with shaving cream. The other member moves four feet back, then throws Cheetos at the other member's head. At the end of 2 minutes, you count the number of Cheetos that stuck to the shaving cream on his teammate's head. The team with the most Cheetos wins.

Keep in mind that not all kids will be interested in these activities. Remember, summer is their time to unwind, too, and that may mean doing nothing in their rooms or with their friends, especially for older teens. Give them their space.

Most of the activities listed here were cheap or free, while some might need some outlay, but the memories are priceless, and hopefully they'll want to do some of them again next summer. They’ll love the pictures of you with Cheetos in your hair!

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