The family can have hours of fun this summer simply by staying cool in the pool. If you don’t have enough room for a full-sized pool, a kiddie pool or the garden sprinkler will be enough to get the little ones laughing.
A snorkel and goggles will make for fun exploring in the pool or finding a “lost” loonie. And a volleyball net installed across the pool is also a great way to keep the kids active, splashing and making spectacular dives!
If you need a little protection from the sun, stick a beach umbrella into a bucket of sand, or just wear a hat and sunscreen.
There’s nothing like a BBQ gathering with friends and family for laugh-out-loud fun, tasty fare, and a relaxed atmosphere.
Get two men together and challenge them to a cook-off—watch as both push their macho BBQ skills to the limit. Dad might even pass on the legacy and turn the kids into black-belt BBQ chefs, too.
If your BBQ is rusty or not grilling like it used to, maybe it’s time to invest in a new one. Invite friends for a BBQ steak-and-wine night and ask them to bring a bottle of red from their favourite Ontario winery or a far-off country.
Camping in the backyard is a great way to “rough it” for a night—with the convenience of indoor plumbing when nature calls. Set up a couple of 2-person tents (one for adults and one for kids) along with sleeping bags, a lantern and bug spray.
To make it a full camping experience, try roasting some hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire or firepit—the perfect venue for late-night ghost stories! And if it’s a clear night, observe the moon through a telescope or binoculars.
Introduce your kids to the universe with nothing more than a clear night sky and a telescope. An entry-level telescope is great for seeing the moon up close. If you have an SLR camera, consider getting an SLR adaptor for taking photos of far off planets and stars.
Look for Mars (red) and Saturn (pale yellow) in the evening sky over the summer months in Canada. On a good night, you might even spot Saturn’s rings. Early to mid-August is good for catching meteor showers, otherwise known as the Perseids, as they light up the sky.
Spark your kids’ sense of adventure by organizing a scavenger hunt with fun clues and riddles. Have them dress up like Indiana Jones, and find fun (and safe) hiding places for treasures.
Leave a trail of surprises, or clues to a fancy prize. For extra delight on their faces, buy some toys that’ll give them further enjoyment over the summer—like a Frisbee, water pistol, whistle, baseball and gloves, and balloons. Make sure everyone gets their fair share of rewards so the day ends in laughter rather than tears!
Enhancing your garden
Bring out creativity in kids and adults alike by getting everyone to assemble twigs, flowers, stones and other findings into sculptures and wreaths that you can use to decorate around the garden. Kids will eagerly spend a day building fairy and gnome huts out of tree branches and leaves.
Get some clay and make your own pots or garden creatures. Use leftover outdoor paint to decorate old pots, or turn pebbles into ladybugs with red, black and white paint.
Why travel far for a picnic when you can have a perfect one in your own backyard? Spread a large blanket or tablecloth on the grass and bring some pillows to sit on.
Pack up a picnic basket with your favourite sandwiches, finger foods, cheese, crackers, juice boxes, and cookies. What a relaxing and fun way to get fresh air and vitamin D in the afternoon while reading books, playing card games or throwing around the Frisbee! Don’t forget a cooler with lots of beverages to stay hydrated in the sun.
Collecting bugs and butterflies
Did you know there is a whole zoo in your backyard? If you look under every bush, plant and tree, you will find plenty of living creatures like bugs, slugs, worms and caterpillars. Look out for the Monarch butterfly, one of southern Canada’s most beloved species.
Don’t forget to set ground rules, such as washing hands after handling bugs. Added bonus if you encourage older kids to learn more about their discoveries by looking them up on the Internet.
Backyard spa day
Do you ever feel the need to get away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life? If so, it’s easy to create an oasis of relaxation in your backyard and keep your troubles at bay—at least for a few hours. All you need is a lounge chair, a sunbrella, your nail kit, a good book and sunscreen.
Get a blender and make yourself a margarita (or three), or pamper yourself with a manicure. Better yet, install an actual spa in your backyard and indulge daily in a dip and a soak!
Organize your own summer Olympics
Go for the gold! For active kids and adults, there’s nothing better than holding competitive games right in your backyard. You can hold opening ceremonies and award prizes.
If you have a decent-sized pool, you can hold freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke events. With a reasonable backyard and a few laps you could do 100 meter races or relays. An old sandpit could be used for long jump.
Even though some of these don’t officially qualify as Olympic games, you can have hours of fun with Bocce balls, badminton, and Frisbee competitions, too.
With the gas prices soaring and vacation days numbered, instead of venturing into faraway lands, why not enjoy a staycation in your own backyard this summer? There’s much more to it than playing “I spy” or tic-tac-toe to keep you and the kids sane. We’ve put together 10 great ideas to make your staycation one to remember.