Long days and lots of sunshine are beckoning. Turn off the TV, shut down the computer, and gather the troops around. Outdoor activities are the perfect cure for the boredom that typically sets in just a day or two after school ends. You can combine family time, health and fitness, and a big dose of fun.
When you're playing outdoors in the summer, it's important to stay hydrated. Call a water break at least every thirty minutes, and make sure everyone drinks enough. It's also important to wear sunhats and sunglasses. And, of course, make sure everyone wears sunscreen, and reapply it every two hours (more often if you're really working up a sweat or if you're in the water).
Before you hit the great outdoors, also take the time to make sure you have all the right gear. Going cycling? Get your helmets. Rollerblading? Ditto, plus the proper pads. Don't wait until you're ready to go to find out that Junior has outgrown his safety gear. Plan ahead to avoid last minute meltdowns.
Get your game on
Whether you go for Capture the Flag, softball, or badminton, an outdoor game lets you give everyone an active role. Challenge another family to an afternoon of fun in the sun. Team up younger kids with an older sibling or a parent to even out team strength, if necessary. And take the opportunity to teach your kids about winning -- and losing -- with grace.
Bounce a ball
Get a bag of balls: basketballs, those red gym balls you remember from your youth, a medicine ball, and any others you can round up. Set up stations for basketball, foursquare (the kind that doesn't involve texting!), exercise, and whatever else your family will enjoy. Rotate through the stations as a group -- a fifteen minute game of two-on-two, followed by a few rounds of foursquare, and a little time working out makes for a great circuit.
Set up a scavenger hunt
Split your family into two teams (or compete against another family) to see who can track down the most items from around the neighborhood. Include a few on-the-spot activities: a picture of one team member in a tree, for example.
Create an obstacle course
Put together an obstacle course and time each family member. You can make beginner and advanced versions, or give younger kids a head start. Add in fun twists, like putting on a bathing suit over your clothes before running under a sprinkler. Encourage everyone to run the course several times and try to improve their time.
Set a family goal -- whether it's a 5k walk or a full out marathon -- and create a training plan you can stick to together. Younger kids can come along in a stroller (it's great for your core strength!); teens can run right alongside you. Make team playlists, t-shirts, and photos, and enjoy each mile.
Hit the pool
If you can't take the heat, create a pool day to cool off. You can play water games like Marco Polo, have a diving competition, or swim races. You can also play pool-based versions of games like volleyball.
Active family togetherness is a great way to kick-start your summer fun!
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