Macie Staheli, contributing writer

water balloons

The last day of junior high started with an orange juice sunrise. The glow followed me on the walk to school. My backpack was lighter across shoulders without textbooks and ink stained papers. The school day smelled strongly of Sharpie markers from dotting i’s with hearts and writing H.A.G.S. in everyone’s yearbook. By the final bell, I could feel summer vacation like the condensation on my soda can, drops of water free-ing their way onto my hands. I walked home with friends, dreaming of the next three months under a cloudless sky. Walking into our subdivision, we couldn’t see parents hiding behind houses armed with water guns. Younger siblings hid behind cars with water balloons. Summer greeted us with an ambush of icy hose water, melting Otter Pops, and a neighborhood celebration.

For kids this year, the last day of school won’t be filled with yearbook signatures and sunny-side breakfasts before school. School hallways have been as empty as students’ backpacks since March. Community celebrations have six-feet limitations. Skies are cloudless with kids wishing for days by the pool, Stadium of Fire, and all the summer traditions that have been canceled this year due to Covid-19. These last couple of months have been tough, to say the least, on both parents and children. After the to-do list on your children’s Canvas account is empty and the laptop is finally shut, celebrate summer anyway! Celebrate the hard things accomplished. Celebrate the trial-and-error successes and overcoming failures. Get creative! Kick-start summer with memories your kids can relive one day, even if they’re made within the walls of your own home. 

The sky is the limit with ideas; here are a few to get you started:

  • Recreate a classic lemonade stand with a twist: Start a drive-by soda bar with canned soda, fresh limes, and flavorings for your kids to sell in the front yard.
  • Let your kids cover the trampoline with blankets and twinkle lights and camp out under the stars.
  • Sit around a fire pit and roast hot dogs, Starbursts, and s’mores. 
  • Bring a speaker out on the front porch and wash the family cars. Let kids take turns being the DJ. Hide water balloons for a little fun after.
  • Take ice cream for a car ride up Logan Canyon. Make conversations with your kids and get into their world by playing games like “would you rather” and “mad libs.”
  • Create a workout circuit with chalk on the driveway or create a family Olympics. Do a ceremony at the end with medals from the dollar store. 
  • Create your own drive-in movie! Sit in the truck bed with a Disney classic playing on your laptop and your kids’ favorite snacks. Might I suggest: Milk Duds and popcorn, drive-in classics! Make your own ice cream.
  • Host a game of Twister in the backyard using food coloring and shaving cream.  Your kids will love this version, just make sure they wear stainable clothing!
  • Have a late night and teach your kids classic night games like ghost in the graveyard, kick the can, and sardines.
  • Have a traditional summer BBQ and play water balloon baseball.

While this summer may be a little different, use the time to really connect and bond with your kids. Make the next three months more about who you are with instead of the places you go. With a little creativity, you can make this summer one never to be forgotten.