Merrick Asks: How to Plan Out Your Summer and 50+ Boredom Busters

50+ ideas for planning your summer & the best boredom busters

School’s out for the summer…now what?! Try these ideas for planning out your summer so it’s the best summer ever. 


I’m feeling so excited to plan our summer this year because my kids are finally old enough to actually have a real summer. We don’t have a baby who needs several naps a day, and my two older kids are both in school so they actually have a summer break. This is so exciting.

I’ve been pondering our summer plans for weeks, trying to decide how to balance structure, fun, free time, my work hours, and daily household responsibilities, and just yesterday I finally figured it out.

Plus I asked all of you on Instagram to share how YOU plan your summers, and I’ll be sharing all of those in this post. There are so many good ideas, all so different, so there’s something for everyone!

Here’s how we’re planning our summer:

My kids and I both need structure. It was fun to hear from some of you that you love to go with the flow, but I just can’t do that. I need a mix of scheduling and relaxation, but a schedule must be in there somewhere.

My morning workout

Morning Expectations (dressed, beds made, reading, educational time – during their educational/reading time I’ll make breakfast)


A several hour block of time together doing an indoor or outdoor activity (park, library, making a treat, playdate, etc)

Home for lunch

My work time while baby naps and boys do quiet time and have free unstructured time. Babysitter will be here for some of that time.

Babysitter leaves and I make dinner 

Dinner together and evening family time

We also plan to make a big list of weekend family activities and do a scheduling time each Sunday evening to plan out our morning activities each day, contact any friends we want to play with that week, and decide on our weekend plan.

I think it’s the perfect mix of structure and free time for us.

That was one big takeaway I had when I was reading through your responses…every family has such different needs and personalities, so as you make your summer plans, think about your children’s needs, and your personal capacity as a mom. Don’t set your expectations higher or differently than you can achieve or you’ll just set yourself up for frustration and failure!!  

how to plan out your summer with kids!

Ideas from all of you about how to plan your summer.

  1. Make a summer bucket list. Write it down on a big piece of poster board, a large chalk board, or buy one of these ready made ones.
    1. Some ideas: family hike, outdoor movie, camping, go to the lake, have a water balloon fight, do tie dye, go to the beach, play at a new park, host a party with friends, make homemade ice cream, have a lemonade stand, make a slip and slide, go to the zoo…get creative! The possibilities are endless.
  2. Create a simple morning checklist (bed, teeth, dishes, clean up, read for 30 mins). Then go do something fun together. Work before play!
  3. Sit down each Sunday night and have a planning session. What activities will we do this week? What will we do this weekend with the whole family? What friends do we want to have a playdate with? Calendar the week so you’re not scrambling.
  4. Go with the flow. This is especially good if you have babies or young kids and you’re still in survival mode a lot of the time. If your older kids get restless, have them do something active or a fun chore and it’ll get their creative juices going again!
  5. Plan a reoccurring weekly date to go see movies at the dollar theater! If you don’t have a dollar theater close, many movie theaters will do a $1-2 movie once a month, so check around!
  6. Sign your kids up for day camp so you have one or two weeks of structure throughout the summer to help break it up. Have it be a camp to help them learn a new skill or improve a skill they already have, like cooking, science, dance, etc.
  7. Re-arrange your schedule so you can all take advantage of sleeping in. The best way to differentiate the summer!
  8. Have each kid set a goal on their own for the summer: learn to ride a bike, learn to tie their shoelaces, learn to read, have a lemonade stand, anything! When they’re feeling bored, have them work on that.
  9. Assign an activity for each day of the week: Library Monday, Water Wednesday, Food Friday, etc. and then come up with an activity in each of those categories for that day!
  10. Sit down with your kids and ask them to tell you 2-3 things they’d be sad about if they didn’t do this summer, and build those into your summer first!
  11. Create a “Rainy Day” closet or “Secret Bag of Goodies” with inexpensive items from the dollar store or Target dollar section. Let them pick something from the closet every once in a while to introduce a new fun thing!
  12. Let each child be in charge of the family activity for one day each week. Each child gets their own day, and Mom gets one day (so you can run errands, or clean the house, or whatever YOU want). Sit down on Sunday so you can plan out the coming week and each child chooses what the family activity will be on their day that week. If you have extra days leftover, those can be chill days.
  13. @Sweetunwrappinglife says, We just hang. Life is so structured, it’s nice to have no agenda. If we eat breakfast at 10 and stay in our jammies all day that’s cool. If a friend asks to hang out we say yes. If we get antsy we go for a walk. I love holidays. If you go all week and you’ve done nothing that’s ok. Give your kids time to get bored. And don’t give in, because in solving their boredom themselves – that’s when they get the most creative.
  14. Have a set block of time in the morning to do an activity together, and choose from a pre-set list. Then let the rest of the day be a little more relaxed!
  15. Create summer checklists with each of your children. Things they can work on during the afternoon during their unstructured time.
  16. Choose a project or skill for the summer: @SipMom says “I decided to teach my kids how to cook real dinners this summer, let the kids pick recipes, shop for ingredients together, teach them one on one.” In past summers their summer skills have been passing swim tests, learning to ride a bike, and improving their writing. She wrote a blog post about it HERE if you want to check it out!
  17. Plan one getaway per month – a road trip, a staycation, a short trip, an overnight camping trip, or whatever! One per month will give you something to look forward to each month.
  18. Plan a morning “Learning Activity” to do each morning after breakfast so there’s some learning/structured time before they play. Do work books, programs with the iPad, or something from Pinterest! I have a list of my favorite education games IN THIS POST!
  19. Schedule a once a week group playdate with a bunch of moms and their kids, and rotate which mom plans the activity!
  20. If your child wants screen time, create a list of things they need to do before they get screen time:
    1. One idea is to use the BORED acronym:
      1. Been Creative, Outside Play, Read a Book, Exercised 20 Minutes, Done Something Helpful? I’ve seen signs created with this acronym so if they say they’re bored, you can easily reference this and they get some quick ideas.
  21. Separate your summer bucket list into categories:
    1. Sensory (moon sand, play dough, water beads, slime, etc), Treats/snacks (homemade popsicles, smoothies, bread creations, etc), Outside (sidewalk chalk, practice soccer, glowstick ring toss, wash the car, etc), Indoor Play (puffy paint, build a fort, hallway “laser” maze, dance party, etc)
  22. No matter what the rest of your summer schedule is, try to aim for ONE day a week of absolutely nothing.

So many great ideas, and all so different!

How to plan your summer

The Best Boredom Buster Ideas

I loved reading your responses about boredom. So many of you referenced the studies about how boredom leads to our greatest creativity. Yes, yes, and more yes. I give my kids lots of free time and quiet time and their imaginations are HUGE. It’s so good for them.

@Localpassports says: “That word [bored] is just not allowed in our house. I find if my kids know they can’t say it, they don’t think it, either. There’s ALWAYS something to do and it’s not my job to figure it out for them. I really find that the more my kids need to entertain themselves, the better they are at it. It’s a practice thing like anything else!”

So many of you also said that if your kids say they’re bored, you ask them to do chores and they quickly change their mind about being bored and find something else to do! I’m a believer in that too!

But sometimes it’s also nice to have a little list of ideas that they can draw from when they’re feeling uninspired…something to get their creative juices flowing again.

So I created this big list of INDOOR BOREDOM BUSTERS + OUTDOOR BOREDOM BUSTERS that you can easily do without much planning or resources. You can print the list easily RIGHT HERE


  1. Pull out paper cups and try to make the tallest tower you can
  2. Do a puzzle
  3. Play a board game together
  4. Make homemade popsicles
  5. Create a craft bin with popsicle sticks, stickers, tape, rubber pants, paper clips, clothes pins, etc and let them get creative!
  6. Play charades together
  7. Create some sensory bins for your kids to play with
  8. Build a fort
  9. Have a dance party
  10. Make some homemade play dough
  11. Do a drawing from Art for Kids Hub Youtube Channel
  12. Make paper airplanes
  13. Film a lip sync video with choreography
  14. Write a letter to Grandma and Grandpa or cousins and send it in the mail
  15. Play a board or card game (my favorites HERE)
  16. Do a leaf rubbing drawing with crayons
  17. Learn a new song on the piano
  18. Write your own story and draw pictures to go with it
  19. Make bracelets
  20. Use paper cups as bowling pins and play indoor bowling with whatever ball you have
  21. Listen to an audiobook (a list of some of our favorites is right HERE)
  22. Make an afternoon snack together
  23. Work on your summer skill goal
  24. Teach a younger sibling how to play a new game
  25. Learn how to cross-stitch or crochet
  26. Make bean bags and learn how to play hacky sack or have a bean bag toss
  27. Print a coloring page off of the internet and color
  28. Make a cereal necklace with a string and some dry cereal, then go outside and snack on it!
  29. Use toilet paper/paper towel rolls to create a marble run on the wall or a door
  30. Turn off the lights and do shadow puppets
  31. Play dress up
  32. Roll up your socks and have an indoor snowball fight with the socks



  1. Try a new park together
  2. Go swimming
  3. Go to see a matinee movie
  4. Go to the library
  5. Go to the zoo
  6. Call a friend and have a playdate
  7. Go to a movie in the park
  8. Run through the sprinklers
  9. Create a slip and slide
  10. Go to the splash pad
  11. Put together a picnic for dinner that night
  12. Wash the car
  13. Sidewalk Chalk
  14. Have a water balloon toss/fight
  15. Ride your bike
  16. Take a walk together
  17. Do bubbles in the backyard
  18. Go get the mail
  19. Have a three legged race
  20. Draw hopscotch on the sidewalk and play
  21. Fill a big bucket with water and bob for apples
  22. Make a volcano in the dirt with a soda bottle, soap, baking soda, and vinegar
  23. Set up an obstacle course and take turns going through it



Leave a comment if you have any other great ideas you’d like to add to this list!

Ideas for planning out your summer + A Huge list of Boredom Busters


  1. Torrie says:

    Because my daughter isn’t in school yet, this is actually very similar to the schedule we follow year-round, and it really does make a difference! We do something every morning (although I totally count grocery shopping as a “fun” morning activity since she still loves it), and that leaves the afternoons free for her to take a nap and for me to blog or work on the house. I’ve been so consistent at planning something nearly every morning that she’s learned to ask me first thing after waking up what we’re doing that day, and it’s been really good for both of us to have that structure and something outside of the house to look forward to.

    Since we’re pretty constrained on budget, we can’t do a ton of big family things, but we DO make sure we have at least one family “day adventure” every single month. Often, it’s something inexpensive or free (this month’s was a picnic at the park and flying kites), but occasionally we’ll splurge and do something bigger.

  2. jan says:

    Boredom isn’t always bad. As you go through life you won’t be able to fit every spare minute with activities, so teaching your child to be o.k. with boredom and o.k. with their own quiet thoughts, is also a useful skill. I love the lazy days of summer and don’t schedule or plan anything (except trips which require it). There aren’t enough days in life where you don’t have to live by a schedule or a to-do list and my memories of my childhood summers weren’t about where we went or what we did but about that feeling of freedom. Of just being.

    Our summer plans def. include lots of boredom.

    (just another viewpoint). 😉

    • Merrick says:

      Yes, I totally agree! This is exactly why we do quiet time in our home – lots of time to think, be silent, and be creative.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Meagen Scott says:

    One thing i Didnt see on the list but love is volunteering for older kids. Its never too early to starT maKing kids feel like THEy CAN be productive members of society. I BELIEVE kids should learn early that life doesnt REVOLVE around them and give back.

  4. Charity says:

    I love this post! Thank you for Sharing all of your pOsitivity!! ♥️♥️♥️

  5. Kristen L. says:

    Hi merrick! I know you’ve had it for a while, but where was your striped, collared shirt from? I remember loving it when you first posted it with your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and your post today reminded me! Thanks!

  6. Christine says:

    This post is amazing! I am a New(Ish) stepmom and a teacher and i am planning to help give structure to our summer with a ton of these ideas. Thank you for helping me build a good relationship with my stepdaughters!

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