Summer Family Fun Activities + (planning for the unexpected)

Summer is the time to get out into nature, plan getaways, vacations or just get plain ‘ol lazy!  It’s the time to enjoy doing fun things you love to do out doors with (or without) your family and friends. I get so excited for summer, because it’s a time I immerse myself in nature! I’m giddy being outside whether it’s taking a hike, bike or camping in the forests. Many of you may know, I live part of the year in Colorado. We enjoy kayaking, jumping into lakes, swimming and fishing in rivers. 

One thing that’s top of mind, as a mom of 4, is how I planned ahead for both our fun and the unexpected. That’s just how my brain works. I’m always thinking ahead, especially having been a middle school special ed teacher for 10 years prior to having our own children… That job prepared me in this way should something in our plans go wrong.  I would be able to help my kids find ways to make lemonade out from a challenging situation. It may seem counter intuitive to plan for things to go wrong; however, I’ve found especially with kids, it was always good to have a little something to help ease what possible things might go wrong. If nothing happens, the small extra’s became bonuses in my back pocket, for a future delay or a hiccup.

This summer, our first camping trip was met with a ton of mosquitos. Because I won’t wear DEET, a chemical that is not healthy for us or kids, I decided to try on a variety of natural mosquito, black fly and tick repellents.  Scroll Down for the full list and which ones I felt worked the best. 

In today’s world, whether you are traveling by bike, car, boat or plane… shit can happen. A flight is delayed, a car over-heats, a kid gets sick or hurts themselves or there’s an abundance of mosquitos, bees or bugs show up in abundance and plans get altered! By having a plan, a treat, an activity in my special bag of tricks, it allows me to pull out something to help the situation in the moment for whatever happens. Averting the possible major melt down.  I found being prepared for most any unexpected thing that can happen, has saved the most frustrating or painful situations.  

Calming ourselves or others was my major motivation here. I have been known as the angel on planes having an extra set of clothes for the mom whose baby vomited and she forgot to pack an extra set of clothes, or sharing an organic lollypop with the overwhelmed parent and their screaming baby, because either their ears are in pain due to altitude change or they are exhausted. I also had small packs of crayons, blank paper, stickers, and small books. 

It’ so tempting to always hand over your iPhone. However back in the day, we didn’t have them. I believe in allowing our kids to find peace in the boredom or simple slow ways of being, even when things go wrong, make up a game, play songs + dance, bring their favorite little toys. 

camping with kids

Planning your family fun… 

Now, you might already have plans in place, however leaving room for some spontaneity is always something we loved doing… A surprise “fun day” or get away helps to add an element of surprise fun as well! 

I encourage you to gather your family together.  Put away any distractions, phones ☺. Ask them, “what are some things you’d like to do over the summer?” Write down all the things they want to do.  And if they have no idea, or the ideas are limited, you get to throw out some ways to have fun…check out some of the ideas I share below.xz

Here’s some of our favorite summer fun activities we did as a family and continue doing together or just Tim and me still enjoy doing!  

One of the ways to get kids involved is to call a family meeting.  

  • Ask them what things they’d like to do. Talk it over with them.
  • Make a dream list
  • Share the list of things and take votes.
  • Take out the calendar out and set a date. 
  • Try once a week throughout summer to plan something fun as a family.

20 Fun Summer Activities with Little to NO Cost! 

  1. Head to the mountains, beach, lakes or rivers, take a picnic, fishing. Bring rafts, games, blow-up kayak.
  2. Children museums and science museums are amazing!
  3. Visit a farm, take a tour!
  • Southern California- JR Organics or Apricot Lane. 
  • Steamboat Spring’s-Elkstone Farm or Bee-Grateful Farm…
  • Find a farm near you!
  1. Visit a farmers’ market near you! Buy peaches and make a Peach Pie, Crisp or Nectarine or Peach Jam or an upside down pie AKA a Galette
  2. As a family, write a children’s story book from your personal experiences.
  3. City wide scavenger hunts
  4. Visit your community Library or book store. They have activities all throughout summer
  5. Backyard camp-out
  6. Backyard movie night
  7. City Pool Day
  8. Art projects: paint a canvas, paint by numbers, homemade play-do, water colors, all the crayons, colored pencils, sticker fun, chalk (large ones for sidewalk or thin ones for paper)
  9. Bake or Cook Off family team competition
  10. Kids Cook dinner night
  11. Make homemade ice or No-Churn Ice Cream
  12. Volunteer Environmental Day: your yard, local park, beach or neighborhood clean up
  13. Build a garden: raise bed, container, small pots what ever you have around the yard or garage.  
  14. Summer Neighborhood Olympics for all ages
  15. Water Play Day: water guns, balloons, slip and slide, backyard pool, ride a big block of ice down a hill… was a serious fun day we did on a hill in the park… think slip and slide using a huge ice cube ☺ You’ll need to be close to a water source and a hill…
  16. Make and paint/decorate a bird house. Michaels is an art and craft store that has tons of paintable, crafty fun ideas to choose from. 
  17. Visit a botanical garden. They offer lots of fun free activities! Butterfly exhibits, bring your dog day and other fun things to do!  Check out these wonderful gardens and see what activities they have to offer. In California, South Coast Botanic Gardens or in Steamboat,  The Yampa River Botanical Garden…they do yoga and free summer concerts! 

Many families already have their kids summer all planned out…However if not, here’s  some low to high ticket activities that are worth looking into especially if you are up for, or can do, some spontaneous adventures! Note: weekdays are less $$ than weekends and less crowded.

With 4 kids we left space in-between the girls beach camps when they were younger, or as they got older, summer soccer practice. It became harder to make plans once they got more involved in sports at a higher level. And some trips we still went on even if one of the girls stayed behind with family friends. Check out these adventures we took as a family.

12 Low to Higher Cost Ideas for Summer Family Fun $$-$$$

  1. Train ride to a town close by or take the local train to your downtown. In Los Angeles we took the “Green Line” and visited Olivares Street and history museums. We took Amtrak and headed to a mission, San Diego Zoo. 
  2. Other trains in other states are: The Rocky Mt Silverton Train, Colorado Rio Grand, or the train to the Grand Canyon or a train ride up and down the East coast. One year we trained from NYC to Boston. 
  3. Ferry to Catalina Island, Channel Islands, kayak, snorkel, parasail, rent bikes, hike, camp or chill on the beaches…spend the day or the night. In Catalina when the kids were all young, we crammed 6 of us in a cheap hotel and Tim and I slept on the floor! It was a memory for sure! 
  4. Go camping. Take a Road trip! Pegs loved camping with the kids! 
  5. Visit or Sleep over at a Wild Animal Park.
  6. Amusement or Theme Parks (they are getting so very pricey) Disneyland, Knotts or Magic Mountain…
  7. Water Parks
  8. Take a Bike Tour in another city
  9. Venture out into another state. Learn it’s history. 
  10. Visit a special restaurant. 
  11. Take a cooking class: as a family, or kids and their friends, or moms’ Girls night out…or Dads’ who love to cook! 
  12. Go to a sporting event or see a special city: Baseball, Soccer, Minor league game…Fly, drive or train somewhere fun like San Francisco, Colorado, Arizona, Chicago, NYC, Boston. Great restaurants, theatre, activities, art, museums and more! 

When the unexpected happens while having fun outdoors or on vacations…

Packing your “emergency” bag for the unexpected.

Homeopathic Remedies Pegs packs for sickness, bug bites, bee stings, accidents, tummy aches and more…

Pegs Basket

Keep reading how and when to take…

  1. Tummy aches or nausea: Nux Vomica 30 C  for over eating, over drinking, food poisoning, or exposed to gluten… 
  2. Nervousness: Aconatium Napilus 30 C for when anxiety or panic happens or Rescue Remedy.
  1. Sprains, bruises, pain relief: Arnica Montana 30 c
  2. Bee Stings, Apis Mallifica 30c 
  3. Histamine Reaction: Rashes, redness or swelling: Benadryl for the night and Antronex during the day.

Mosquito, Tick, Black fly or Bug Repellents…

I will do everything not to wear a DEET mosquito repellent. So much so I went a little crazy this camping trip.  Knowing Colorado had such a wet spring, and that there would be an abundance of mosquitos, I prepared myself! I wasn’t about to let them buggers ruin our fun! So, I bought and used all of the Au Natural products I bought. And they worked, LOL, all of them! As in, I used them all! 

The DEET controversy. Here’s one opinion about DEET from the well-respected Cleveland Clinic saying when used in small amounts, Deet is ok.. I still don’t feel it safe for kids ever, just a weird intuition I have.  I still will not use DEET nor did I use it on the kids growing up. My body is so sensitive and chemically challenged, that I go to great lengths not to add more chemicals in and on my body.  In this article about DEET, I feel more in alignment with what Dr. Axe found. As parents, I feel, listening to your gut is the best way to decide. If you or your child are immune compromised, that is another deterrent not to use Deet products. There are so many other alternatives that work, you just need to reapply them more often. 

This summer, our first camp out had crazy amounts of mosquitos a couple times during the day. Especially in the morning and early evening. However, by frequently reapplying the natural bug repellents we did fine! Tim who didn’t reapply as often as I did, got many bites. I only had a couple. What I loved was this new product called No-Bite-Me. It was even great after a bite. I never itched once when I got a bite!  If I still had young kids, this is the route I personally would choose. 

A not so new product, called Picaridin is giving Deet a run for its affectedness. It was approved in 2005. It’s similar to Deet, as a synthetic chemical, not derived from plants. Appears not have any adverse effects. However, I again chose not to use the chemicals. Tim used it and felt it worked when he applied it! ☺ I repeat, apply often when there a lot of pesky mosquitos around.  

Here are the mosquito repellents I liked and used. They worked! 

  1. DIY Bug Repellent (one we make from essential oils and rub on skin)
  2. Second Skin Organics Jungle Shield I found in Hawaii! 
  3. Badger Anti-Bug spray
  4. No-Bite-Me repellent and after-bite cream
  5. Not Buggin’ Me by Little Moon
  6. Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus oil spray
  7. Proven insect repellent 20% Picaridin
  8. BUZZ Patch all over Instagram… will review when I try them! 

Our favorite bug bite salves and homeopathic that really work:

  1. Ssssting Stop homeopathic bite topical gel
  2. Old Indian Healing Clay (check out how this works! Great for Bee Stings too!)
  3. Use Staphysagria 30c. Allergic reactions to mosquito bites; red swollen highly irritated. Sam daughter #4 would swell up and get so many bites. This helped her a lot as a child.
  4. Bee Stings use Apis Mellifica 30 c. I keep this on me when I go outdoors. I’ve gotten stung walking on the beach! It completely reduces the irritation. I use it for 4 days. Bee stings take 24 hours until the reaction happens. Red, swollen and itchy. If you wait, it gets worse. Best taken immediately. Keep in an emergency bag.   Life saver! 

Taking Homeopathic remedies: 

NOTE: Do not touch pellets, place in cap of vile. no food or beverages including water 10 min before and after taking the pellets under tongue.    

Day 1 satiating your system with the medicine. Adults follow below. 

  1. Within the first 3 hours as close to the bite as possible: take 5 pellets every hour for three hours. 
  2. After the three hours in Day 1 begin taking 3 pellets every 2-3 hours thru day 2. 
  3. Day 3 take 3 pellets 3 times a Day first thing upon waking around mid day and then before bed. IF YOU GET ANXIOUS OR FEEL A SYMPTOM COMING ON TAKE 2-3 pellets every 15 minutes. Lay down and relax if you can for about 20-30 min symptoms will stop.  Then return to normal taking 3 times a day. 

Keep a vile of Staphysagria and Apis Mellifica 30 c with you when you are outdoors or on a trip. Put the small vials in your purse or backpack. They aren’t expensive and they work and help kids too! No known adverse effects? 

No matter where you go, how you travel or what you experience this summer, may you have the time of your life enjoying new places, old favorites exploring and adventuring! Here’s to your family fun, partner getaways or solo adventures!

May you have a fantastic summer!!! 

Please Note: Any of Peggy’s recommendations are not intended for treatment or diagnosis. They are recommendations she used for her children and clients.  Always check with your health care professional, an integrative or functional doctor, or homeopathic doctor before trying something new.  Feel Free to reach out to Peggy if you have any questions

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