It's the hot, hazy dog days of summer. With heat indexes soaring past 100 degrees in many parts of the country, some of our tips to encourage dads and kids to Get Out and enjoy the Great Outdoors together just might not be practical right now. But the kids are getting restless cooped up inside and so are you... Check out our tips for cooling off in the "Wet Outdoors" with water fun!
- Play in the yard: Get out your super soaker water guns and challenge your kids to a duel - let the wettest one win! Or set up a sprinkler and run through the water together - make it with fun with a game like tag. Get a large plastic tarp and make a homemade slip-n-slide. For the little ones, set up an inflatable pool and keep a close eye on them as they splash in the water.
- Hit the pool: Visit your neighborhood pool and play a game of Marco Polo or Sharks and Minnows with your kids. Invite other children and parents to join in the game - the more the merrier! If your kids don't know how to swim, make sure you sign them up for swimming lessons - it could save their life one day.
- Go on a kayaking, rafting, or water tubing trip: Take a day trip to a nearby river or lake and rent kayaks or canoes. If your kids are old enough, sign-up for a white water rafting guided trip. If you have access to a boat, take the kids for a wild ride on water tubes. (Make sure you get appropriate safety training for all of these activities!)
- Visit the beach: If you live close enough to the coast or a lake, plan a day trip to the beach. Help your child build a sandcastle and teach him or her how to ride the waves on a boogie board. Don't forget to reapply sunscreen often!
"Splashy" Character Lessons
As simple as playing in the water may seem, it still presents an opportunity to help your children learn important character lessons. Look for ways to talk to you children about these character lessons and help them grow through these experiences.
- Facing your fears: Your children might afraid of getting in the pool or riding in a canoe on the lake. Gently ask them why they are afraid. Explain to them that proper safety gear, like lifejackets or flotation devices, can protect them from getting hurt. Reassure them that you will be there with them the entire time - this is a great opportunity to build trust with your kids and demonstrate that you've got their back no matter what. Once they successfully conquer their fears, jump in the pool, and discover that it's a lot of fun, celebrate with them and congratulate them for being brave!
- Obeying rules: Help your children understand that rules exist to keep them safe. Instructions from the lifeguard at the pool, commands from the rafting guide, and safety precautions such as wearing lifejackets in boats are crucial to follow. Stress to your children that when an adult in authority (a parent, instructor, or lifeguard) tells them to do something they should obey right away. In some cases, this could literally save their lives.
Helpful Resources for Your Water Adventures
Sitting by the pool with a newspaper while your kids are playing is no fun. Get in the water and have some fun too! Check out these resources below with suggestions for activities you can do with your family in the water:
- Disney's FamilyFun website has a dozen great suggestions for water games with kids, including activities at the pool, at the beach, and in your backyard. These are all games you can play with things you have in the house, such as buckets, sponges, plastic cups, and balloons! Try a few with your kids today!>>
- REI.com has some very helpful guidelines for kayaking with kids, including how to plan the trip, pick a boat and appropriate personal flotation device (PFD) for your child, get the kids excited about kayaking, and what to do on the trip. Check out their expert advice here>>
< Safety Tip! >
Playing in the water can pose a lot of danger. Take the proper precautions to make sure your child stays safe. Read the American Academy of Pediatrics' water safety tips and guidelines for staying safe in the sun, pool, boats, and open water.
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