Photo: Christine Hill

My son finished preschool less than two weeks ago and we’ve already been hit by one summer cold and more than a few days of rain. Plus, we have a six-month-old in the house who needs to nap regularly, so while summer should be about sending our kids outside to play, it doesn’t always happen that way. So here’s some ideas I have for my kids that I’m holding in my back pocket for those days when we have to stay indoors.

Inside Home Sweet Home

Old School Baking: This is the perfect time for me to bake breads, cookies and other things that take more time than I’d like during the school year.

-loaf of bread

-pie with homemade pie crust

-sugar cookies

-popcorn popped on the stove

​Arts & Crafts: Usually there isn’t time to set up an art spot for the kids, let alone clean up, so I’m happy I can finally say, “yes!” when they ask to get creative.


-sewing or knitting project

-sudoku & other activity books

-pasta art & pasta necklaces

Summer Cleaning: My kids love to be helpers and I am reserving one day a week where we stay home to tidy and clean.



-sorting laundry

-clean windows and mirrors

Creative Play: There’s nothing my kids love more than building something to play pretend, but with school there’s not enough room or time to leave them up. The luxury of summer is their creations can stay up for days at a time.

-fort/castle/house building

-puppet show with stage

-towers out of blocks

-car ramps

Inside A New Place

Library: I have every story time or activity at the library scheduled into my calendar. Since I have 3 kids I have something to do three days a week in case I need to get the kids out of the house, but still inside.

Museum: Our town has free admittance to a variety of museums the third Thursday of the month. We haven’t been to any of the museums in our area so they’ll all be new and take us a few months to work our way through—hopefully the entire length of summer!

Mall: The mall near our house has an indoor play area. It’s not ideal because our household is on a budget, but it’s fun to occasionally play indoors then head to the food court for a nice lunch. Of course if you have something you need to buy then this also turns into the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. We can also do something similar at places near us like a bookstore that has a story time once a week or a fast food restaurant that has an indoor play area.

One of these activities probably won’t last all day, although baking certainly can, but it’s nice to use on or two of them as a replacement to television. Of course, many of them require supervision, but I’m constantly surprised by how much my 5 year old can do with little help from me. And of course, part of what my kids like best from summer isn’t going on trips, but rather getting undivided attention of one or both of their parents.