Stuck at Home: Ideas for the Last Stretch of Summer

It’s the last stretch of summer. My oldest is done with camps, and my littlest…well, my littlest has sprung forward, marching with a healthy set of lungs into his terrible twos. How will we stay sane? (No, really, how do you stay sane?!)

If you’re stuck at home this summer with little loons running around, here are some activities that have already worked for us, and things I’m hopeful will suffice as we end one season and approach another. Save these for when you’ve already gone to the pool, visited the parks, and eaten the third or tenth snack of the day and it’s only 3:00 P.M. When the hours loom ahead, teasing you as your littlest throws the contents of your kitchen onto the floor, don’t play the Netflix card just yet! Instead, turn to these ideas to (hopefully) keep everyone busy. 

Water Balloons 

Target has a 100-pack of easy-fill water balloons for $8. This kept my boys busy for quite some time. We made up various games like water balloon tag, water balloon toss, and water balloon juggling. I set up their little kiddie pool as a place to hold the balloons. It took about five minutes to blow up all 100, and then we started having fun. I even made a game out of cleaning up! Each person got a small bag, and whoever picked up the most popped balloons, won! The best part? My almost two-year-old and my six-year-old both enjoyed it equally. 

Scavenger Hunt 

This takes slightly more planning, but my six-year-old loved it. has a great article for scavenger hunt riddles. I simply hid a few items throughout the house and then wrote riddles for the hidden items on a piece of paper. Afterward, I let him create his own scavenger hunt. I think he enjoyed this the most!

The Laughing Game 

My kids love, love, love when they get to act like maniacs—and this game allows them to do just that! It’s simple: each person gets a turn trying to make the rest of the group laugh. Whoever laughs first, loses. My littlest doesn’t quite understand the concept, but he’s down for copying and laughing at all the silliness, and he’s thoroughly entertained through the whole game. 

We’re Going on a Rock Hunt 

Grab a bucket or whatever you can find and venture into the heat, only for a little while. Search around the house or at the nearest park for some rocks, then head home for a rockin’ good time (get it? ha!). There’s a lot you can do with rocks: paint them, stack them, create little buildings, spell words. Playing with rocks usually keeps both my boys busy. 

Make a Terrarium 

A terrarium is a miniature landscape or garden in a jar. Kids can create their own little slice of nature with things you find in the backyard. My six-year-old had so much fun doing this, and I even let the little one get messy and make his own. We used an old water jug and cut a hole at the top, big enough to add all the nature items. We layered dirt, grass, and leaves as well as some painted rocks, made trees with sticks, and added some small toys inside to make it fun. Another interesting idea is to search Pinterest for “fairy garden terrarium”—you’ll find so many beautiful little fairy oases that you can attempt to recreate. 

Hide and Seek 

I don’t think there’s ever been a time when we’ve played this game and haven’t laughed a really good belly laugh. It seems the more people playing, the funnier it gets, so wait until Dad comes home or invite the neighbors over for a game. 

Bathe Your Dog 

We usually bathe our dog outside with the hose. Everyone usually ends up soaking wet, but who wants to be dry during a San Antonio summer anyway?!

Make an iMovie Music Video 

Download the free iMovie app on your phone. Super simple process. Film different scenes you want in the video, then add music. Save the final video and show the kids, who will want to watch it over and over again. It’s also a great keepsake. 

“New” Box of Toys 

This requires slight planning ahead of time, but it works! I have a basket of toys my boys have forgotten about that I keep hidden. My little one likes cars, so I’ll buy little cheap cars here and there and place them in the basket. When I’m cleaning and find toys behind dressers, under the bed, in the between the couch cushions, etc., I place those in the basket too. Then, on a day when I’ve run out of ideas, I bring out the “new” box of toys and watch my kids entertain themselves for hours. My kids are young, so I’m not sure how this would go over with older kids, but it’s definitely worth a shot!

Large Cardboard Box 

I don’t care how you get one—just get one. A large cardboard box plus markers equals endless possibilities. You can even get a little crazy and help them make something a little more complicated, like a school bus or small fort. At its simplest, it’s a great canvas for all their doodling. Give the older ones drawing challenges and the little ones washable markers or even washable paint if you’re up for the clean-up. 

There you go! Now go relax and watch some Netflix, and enjoy the end of your summer!

Aubrey Cofield holds a Bachelors degree in Non-fiction Writing from The University of Pittsburgh. She's worked previously with NPR, Keep Austin Beautiful, and various other publications as a contributing writer. In December of 2015 Aubrey and her husband of 6 years adopted their oldest son Jaxson. About a year following Jaxson's adoption she became pregnant with her now nearly 2 year old, Jonas. After moving around for a bit Aubrey is so happy to be back in her hometown of San Antonio, TX. Follow her and her boys on Instagram @aubrey_cofield or visit her blog!