I don’t know about you, but I always have really high hopes for the summer. Not only is it a time for everyone (including me!) to decompress a little, but it’s also a time for kids to grow in other ways, discover their passions, and just have some good, old-fashioned fun. It’s also a time for us to make some magical memories as a family—the type of stuff the kids will remember when they’re grown up and have their own kids.
It sounds pretty perfect and totally attainable, doesn’t it? After all, we have more than two full months to get the magic going. But with the actual decompression because everyone’s exhausted from the school year, followed by weeks of camp (not to mention work, which keeps on going), it can feel like summer is half over by the time you actually have a free minute. That’s where I am right now, and if you are, too, don’t panic! There’s still plenty of time for proper family fun…and in fact, that’s what August is all about. August is National Family Fun Month, and I have a few ideas for you to make the most of it, with a little help from the Walt Disney Company.
Of course, August is HOT, so spending time at the pool, beach, or neighborhood splash pad is a no-brainer. If your kids—and you!—are Disney fans, ShopDisney.com has the cutest stuff to help you gear up. Because we all know that kids have tons of stuff, you can stick it all in a cinch-top neoprene Mickey swim bag, which is super roomy and water-resistant. And they also have a whole swim collection for both kids and adults with swimsuits, beach towels, sunglasses, and flip-flops emblazoned with Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars characters.
If you can plan a last-minute trip, go for it. Or even a staycation in your own town will do the trick. Remember: You may have seen it all already, but for your kids, these are new experiences. One of the coolest things about being a parent is seeing the world through their eyes, and that’s just as true for locales that are close to home.
But you don’t have to be out and about or spend a fortune to make some amazing memories. As parents, our main goal is to get kids off the couch and using their imaginations. And as a die-hard Star Wars fan, I’ve found that one of the best ways to do this is with an epic lightsaber battle. Kids can choose characters on the Light Side or the Dark Side, or create new ones, but they’ll definitely want the Lightsaber Forge electronic lightsaber toy from Hasbro. My 10- and 7-year-olds get so into this (er, maybe a little too into this!) and weave the coolest tales in the galaxy.
There are also different Lightsaber toy lines for all fans, including collectors. And you can check out StarWarsKids.com for all sorts of cool new content, including lightsaber training videos featuring moves that are surprisingly easy to learn.
The thing is, kids really just want you to be in on the action. Little ones, in particular, literally want you to get down on the floor and play with them. It means the world to them, and it helps them learn through play, so it’s a win-win. One way to do this is with the brand-new Spidey and His Amazing Friends Spider Crawl-R HQ from Hasbro. It’s a two-in-one mobile play set with lights and sounds that converts from a large-scale rolling vehicle into a two-foot-tall HQ tower. Kids can imagine planning missions at the command center, swing on the web arm, and race Spidey down the pull-out ramp on the included motorcycle.
Worried about the summer slide? Don’t be. One of the best ways to bond with kids, keep them learning, and make education fun is with science. The National Geographic Mega Science Series: Amazing Reactions Chemistry Kit from Blue Marble comes with more than 15 easy-to-follow experiments, giving kids the chance to experience the scientific process in a hands-on way, just like real scientists. It also includes a bonus guide with 30 additional experiments using common household items.
My kids are obsessed with this set, and it’s easy to see why: It bubbles, it fizzes, it grows crystals—you name it. When we do anything like this, my two usually make me record them while they’re conducting their experiments, walking “viewers” through the steps as they pretend they’re hosting their own YouTube videos. It’s super fun and exactly the way learning is supposed to be.
And this is just the beginning. Of course, you can find so much more at ShopDisney.com, Amazon, and your other favorite retailers, and you should also just follow your kids’ leads. If you have a music-obsessed child, encourage them to stage their favorite musical or create their own. If you have a sporty kid, all you need is a ball and your backyard. And if you have a crafty kid, crayons, glue, and some googly eyes or glitter will keep them happily occupied for hours. Even better, when you need a break, you can simply take a step back and let them continue the fun on their own as you watch from a distance—ideally with your feet up and a cocktail in hand.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that our kids need a lot and feel like you need to be a cruise director 24/7. But it really is so much simpler than that. They want to be with you and have fun with you, and the smallest things can make the biggest impact.
Tell Us: What’s on your agenda for National Family Fun Month?