700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

How to Have a Successful Summer: Building Deeper Connections with Your Kids

May 24, 2018
image of kids playing outside

“Parents and children help each other to grow. In raising their children, parents are also raising themselves. Child rearing gives parents the chance to redo their own childhood and to improve on it.”

Alicia F. Lieberman, Emotional Life of the Toddler

Welcome to what may soon be your best summer yet!  Year after year, I hear parents enter summer with a mix of excitement and nervousness. They start out with thoughtful questions such as, “What are some fun activities we can do this summer?” or “How can I make sure my kids aren’t bored without spending loads of money?” 

They end the summer with frantic questions such as, “Why do my kids always fight?” and “How can I make them listen to me?”

And, most frequently, “When are they going back to school?” 

I understand. I am a parent of two curious and active boys who are always thinking of new forts to build and not clean up! Here are some ideas to fill your summer months with fun and excitement while making life long memories and deeper connections with your children. 

Flexible Structure

Kids say they love the break from school and I believe them, but taking a complete break from all structure can lead to chaos. Work together at the beginning of the week to develop a flexible schedule that you and your child agree upon. Weave some scheduled time (story time, hikes, play dates) with some unscheduled free time (board games, building together with blocks, painting, having a water balloon fight) and naps, if applicable. Make sure to offer regular healthy snacks about every two hours to avoid grouchy kids. 

Get Outside

Play tag with your kids, go for a bike ride or download a scavenger hunt and take it to a local park. Lie on a blanket together and find animals in the clouds or camp together in your backyard.  Some fresh air and exercise are good for everyone. 


There are many free activities that will help build a stronger relationship with your child. Library story hours are great for quality interactive time. Take advantage of a dinner out where you don’t have to cook and your kids eat free. Spend time talking to each other or playing a question and answer game before the food arrives.

Silly Time Over Screen Time

I won’t tell you to disregard your screen for the entire summer, but I will say that focusing on being silly and active with your kids and limiting screen time will benefit you both (especially at bed time). Have a spontaneous dance party where each family member gets to show off their favorite moves. Play games from your childhood like telephone and charades — kids love to hear about what you were like as a child and the silly games you played. When you do use a screen, make it a movie night with everyone snuggling together under a blanket fort. Don’t forget the popcorn!

Your relationship with your child is the most important predictor of their future self and success. Fancy vacations are not necessary to create joyful moments. Spending quality time playing and learning together will help you nourish that relationship and grow together. Enjoy bonding and having fun!

For more fun activities in the Central Ohio area, check out Cap4Kids, a trusted resource for more than 100,000 families, on one convenient website.

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Katrina Ruege
Katrina Ruege, LPCC-S

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.