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It’s summertime y’all, and you are ready for a change.

A sunny, barefoot, sunscreen-covered change.

But, it’s hard when you work from home and nothing really changes with your home and work schedule.

We are quarentine-ing here because of COVID-19, and honestly, for some of us, nothing will really change that much.

But still we need it…what are non-screen things to do with kids during summer while you work? I have the answers here for you so let’s dive in!

Looking for things to do with kids during summer? Check out these ideas for outside play that don’t require an adult. Use these ideas for a summer outdoor play station, indoor water play, and the best toys to have on hand!

As a disclaimer, my kids are young…ages 3 and 8 months. So, most of my ideas will center around young kids. But, I will also include some ideas that will reach older kids and give you some full family fun!

Non-Screen Things to do with Kids during Summer...While You Work!

1. Create a Summer Outside Station

You need a summer outside station that will occupy your kids for hours.

The goal of this station is three-fold. It needs to:

  • operate on very little adult interaction
  • take up very little space and be easy to store
  • occupy your kids for hours

When I buy new toys for my kids, I take into account the creative vs. storage factor.

If a toy will spark creativity and give my kids lots of opportunities to use it, it is worth storing.

If a toy is a one-time-use thing (like a pool float), the storage possiblities need to be really good or it’s not worth it.

The best toys are those that take up very little space, and spark a lot of creativity.

So, I use those principles when I buy new summer toys. The best are small creative toys. I very rarely buy huge summer things.

So, let’s get this thing set up!

(BTW, These ideas should work for anyone that has a balcony, yard, little outside garden…any tiny plot of land will work!)

Take inventory of your summer toys

Find all your summer toys and see what you are working with. Lay them all out so you can throw away the old bubbles and recycle the out-grown toys. You might have dig through your house, but find all the:

  • Bubbles
  • Chalk
  • Water guns
  • Buckets
  • Shovels
  • Pool/Sprinkler toys
  • Sand toys
  • Gardening items
  • Outside toys (animals, action figures)

Now, once you have all of these, group them by kid and see what you need to buy to add to the activities. Think about what your kids are into. Are they into small play with animals and building towns? Social play with neighborhood kids where you need more chalk?

Do you need a baby chair for a new baby? Older activities for the bigger kids? New sunglasses or towels?

And now…let’s get to buying!

Head to the Dollar Store

The Dollar Store is the PERFECT PLACE to buy everything you need! We don’t need quality…just really fun plastic things from China. Oh well. This is what I love to get:

  • Huge plastic baskets to store items (make sure they are stackable!)
  • Plastic boxes with lids to store like items (chalk, bubbles, etc)
  • New chalk, bubbles, water guns
  • Bug nets, bug boxes and some nature activities
  • Gardening gloves, shovels, and seeds
  • New items for water activities
  • Summer hats, sunglasses
  • Paper products for lunchtime picnics
  • New plastic cups and plates for summer dishware
  • Bath stuff! Bath colors, crayons, buckets (bath toy storage!)
  • Splash balls and nets/throwing games

The options are endless! If you don’t have access to a Dollar Store (or have higher standards!), check out these favorites:

Have fun finding new ideas!

Create a Water/Sand Station

Even if you only have a small balcony, you have room for a water table or makeshift sandbox. Let me show you how to make it!

Water Table: I really love our water/sand table. It is the ultimate example of how creativity is worth the storage. We use the water table for water games, sand games, bubbles, animals and toys, watching bugs…everything!

Tip: Make sure you get a water table that is easy to disassemble and store!

Sand Container: If you don’t have room for a real sand box, I have the solution for you! Just get a big & shallow plastic box that has a lid that attaches. Fill it with sand and sand toys – and it will last seasons!

To see how I make mine, click on the image below to watch my Insta Stories!

Add a chair for you!

When you set up all these toys, make sure you add a chair for you! This could a camping chair, beach chair, or just a chair you dragged from inside. This will enable you to…

  • work
  • make phone calls
  • hold babies
  • eat a snack
  • drink coffee
  • encourage independent play!

Rotate toys out at the end of the summer

This is KEY. Make sure you store and put away all the toys. This will guarantee that summer next year will be just as fun!

2. Water Activities

Speaking of kids, let’s talk about water things to do with kids during the summer!

Kids come alive with water. They love it inside, outside, in the shower, in the front yard…everywhere. I love finding ways for my kids to play with water while I work.

FULL DISCLAIMER. Be very careful about leaving kids unattended in water. Please use wisdom when implementing these ideas.

Here are some ideas that I like:

Daytime Bathtime/Shower

If you follow Busy Toddler on Instagram, you know that daytime bathtime is a BIG thing for little kids. There are so many variations of this:

  • Popsicles in the Bath
  • Color-coordinated Bath
  • Toy/Baby doll Cleaning Station in the Bath
  • Bubbles/Foam/Ice cubes in the Bath

For the color-coordinated bath, use colored water and plastic toys of the same color. These are my favorite water colors.

The possibilities are endless! Oftentimes I set this up with very little water in the bath. It just gives your kids a contained space to play with water.

As for the shower, my co-worker told me that her 3 year old is obsessed with showers and takes so many a day – just as a fun water activity. I think this is such a fun idea!

For all of these ideas, definitely make sure there is a system in place for the wet clothes, clean up process, etc!

Tip: If your office/desk is not near the bathroom, I’d recommend moving your laptop near them to keep an eye on the bath while they are playing.


One of my favorite memories as a kid was running barefoot in the sprinklers with my brothers. We would do this for hours!

We have a sprinkler system at our house which makes this very easy. Lately, I’ve been working at the porch outside and letting my daughter run in the sprinklers. She combines this with her water and sand table, and could play outside forever.

Because I can easily move my laptop to the back porch (and keep my baby monitor near me!), this works incredibly well for watching her and letting her play.

We also have a simple sprinkler/splash zone like this one that we LOVE. My daughter will play in it forever and it is inexpensive and easy to store. Add it to your summer station!

3. Inside Activities

If you are working from home during the summer, chances are you will be spending a LOT of time inside. A LOT.

How can you make this time for your kids…while still keeping your work at home inside schedule? Here are some of my favorite activities!

Schedule activities

It is super helpful to have clear expectations and to schedule your week. I usually have themed mornings. I might have:

This just gives me an idea of what to expect and what to look for on Pinterest the night before! It helps to have a semblance of a plan…even if you don’t feel like creating a complete schedule.

Subscribe to a monthly kids activity box!

I know you’ve probably heard about the KiwiCo subscription company from all the bloggers – but there is a reason why it is so popular.

My husband started buying this for our daughter over a year ago. We pay for it with our own pennies. This is not sponsored.

The subscription is great because it uses the STEM process (science, technology, engineering, math) to give you smart, hands-on activities to do with your child. They have awesome boxes that are age-appropriate for all ages.

This is the PERFECT resource when you just need some help with your kids. You can even get just ONE BOX (no subscription necessary.)

I also love keeping all the boxes so I have a supply of activities I can rotate year-round.

Use LEARN for a 15% discount.

Make cleaning up fun

Cleaning schedules vary per family, but I think it is always important to teach your kids to clean up – whether it is every day, or every few days.

I have found that is really helps to turn on the timer to 5 minutes, or to play a few songs on your phone. Encourage your kids to clean up everything they can in 5 minutes…it’s amazing how much can be cleaned up that quickly!

And that’s it, folks! Please leave comments and share your favorite summer activities with your kids. I love every comment and am so thankful for every mama that reads this blog and is part of the community. Love you, friend!

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Non-Screen Things to do with Kids during Summer...While You Work!

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