7 Ways to Keep Feral Children Busy When It’s Unbearably Hot Outside

We are at the time of year where it’s unbearably hot outside and parents are just done with trying to keep kids busy. The kids are done with following rules and acting civilized. This summer is more challenging than usual since we aren’t able to go to the movies, museums, or even some neighborhood pools. What’s a mom to do when she is out of patience and out of ideas? Here are a few indoor summer activities that have worked for our family that make everyone (mostly) happy.

A Note on “Summer Fun” Expectations

I don’t know about you, but my house is in pure chaos right now. You might question whether you should even bother with some of these activities or if it’s even worth the effort. That’s when we need to reevaluate our expectations of summer fun. Look, I’m not gonna lie, some of these things probably won’t be that fun for you…and one or more people in your household might end up crying. But the goal here isn’t to make everyone happy, it’s to help break up the day with something different and survive the rest of summer.

1. Cardboard Box Fun

There’s something about kids and cardboard boxes. I don’t quite get it, but they love playing with boxes! My kids enjoy coloring on them, hiding in them, and turning them into something new. If you have a plethora of Amazon boxes like I do, let your kids at ’em! We most recently made rocket ships from some tall boxes during the SpaceX launch. They had a blast…haha.

kids playing dress up in cardboard boxes
Get a cardboard box and let their imaginations run wild.

2. Homemade Play-doh

I know this isn’t everyone’s “thing,” but I think making some homemade Play-doh is worth doing at least once. It doesn’t take very long and the excitement of being able to customize your own colors keeps kids engaged with the activity. You can also teach older children about measuring units as you prepare the ingredients. This recipe has been my go-to Play-doh recipe for years. It’s easy and comes together easily every time. The best part is that my kids want to play with it for a long time when it’s done!

kids making playdoh inside
This is something my kids have always loved from young ages and STILL do!

3. Water Activities

There are some relatively cheap and easy activities you can do right in your backyard. If you want to have some outside fun, plan to go outside in the morning or evening to avoid the hottest hours of the day. Sometimes we just turn on the sprinklers and let our kids run wild. Other times we get out the slip-and-slide or a mini splash pad, or let them spray each other with the hose. You could also get yourself a kiddie pool or make your own makeshift slip-and-slide with a Dollar Store float and some dish soap. Getting a few water toys has been well worth the money for the amount of time it keeps the kids busy.

examples of backyard water activities
There are several low-cost options for water toys for your backyard. You can even just use your hose!

4. Recreate Movie Scenes

Get out some old Halloween costumes or dress-up clothes and have your kids recreate some of their favorite movie scenes or just play pretend. You can use things from around the house to set the scene. For an added bonus, you can have your kids draw their favorite scenes or watch the movie while they are dressed up.

kids playing dress up in costumes
Let your child dress up like their favorite cartoon or movie characters and recreate scenes

5. Ice Cream Outings

Sometimes you just have to get out of the house, even though you may not want to actually take your kids inside anywhere. This is the perfect time to find a drive-thru that serves ice cream or shakes! Some of our favorite spots are Braum’s for ice cream cones and Sonic or Chick-Fil-A for chocolate shakes. This takes up some time during those afternoons that just seem to drag and helps us hit the reset button when people get grumpy (see the child in the third row below). If you want to extend the outing, play an audiobook or movie soundtrack and just drive around a bit.

having an outing to get ice cream
We like to go get chocolate shakes from different places on those days where you just don’t know what else to do

6. Blanket Forts

Did you make blanket forts as a kid? I did, and it’s just as simple to do now as it was back then. Get your blankets and heavy books and let your kids have at it and get creative building their own spaces. You can let them read some books in their new forts and you can even watch movies or have a slumber party in them if you want.

blanket fort in living room
Bring back the blanket fort tradition with your kids

7. Play Hide-&-Seek Inside

This almost always ends with someone crying, but it can still be worth it to keep them occupied for a few minutes sometimes. My kids love it, but I have to remind them to try not to destroy things as they run around. On the plus side, this helps them keep up on their counting skills and encourages problem solving!

playing hide-and-seek and games inside
Hide and seek never goes out of style

There are definite pros and cons to each of these activities, and they might not be for everyone. But I’ve gotten to the point where if the activity keeps my kids from following me around saying, “I’m bored,” or constantly screaming and fighting, I’ll agree to them despite the mess or other associated annoyances.

Saying yes to the mess is a necessary evil right now to get through the rest of summer until the weather changes to give way to more outside play. Hopefully these indoor summer activities and ideas will give you a few things to keep in your back pocket when everyone is “over it.”

What indoor summer activities would you add to the list?

Kristen Gardiner
Kristen is currently a stay-at-home mom to three wild boys, ages 9, 7, and 4. Kristen was born and raised in San Antonio & she and her husband recently moved their family to Allen in 2018 after a four-year stint in Oklahoma City. Kristen loves to write about motherhood, mental health, and child safety. She is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and has a passion for contributing hands-on car seat education to her community. In her spare time, she loves binging on Bravo shows while sipping a Diet Coke.  Share in the everyday highs, lows, and humor with Kristen at Driving Mom Crazy, and on Facebook or Instagram.

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