Creativity

12 Summer-Fun Ideas For The Whole Family

Delaney Ruston, MD
June 15, 2021
Teen girl doing encaustic painting

“Pre-commitment” is the term that comes to mind as I sit down to share some summer-fun ideas. In behavioral psychology, pre-commitment is all about doing an action, such as creating a contract with yourself before doing something, to increase the chance you actually do that something.  

Why do I bring up that term? It has to do with list-reading vs. list-doing. I think about all the lists I have read over the years on organization tips, arts and craft tips, and so on, and how so often I end up not doing a single one on the list. Can you relate? 

Something is soothing about picking up a magazine and reading through the idea, but actually doing one, that’s another story. At times I don’t pick one to do because I feel overwhelmed by the work of making a choice, and sometimes it is the work of doing the suggestion. 

I invite you to consider making a mental pre-commitment before you read the list of ideas. Commit to trying one of the things you are about to read. Ok, do you feel committed? (no problem if not, but super cool if you commit this second :)

Before we start, let me say that right now, my biggest advice to parents has been to make sure anxiety is not driving summer planning. One can feel a desire to “make up for lost time” and want to ensure plenty of sports, in-person social, reading, and the list goes on. Let’s keep remembering that “emotions are contagious” and try to prevent anxious feelings from intruding too often. Instead, let’s work to point out the things going right — and celebrate whatever little wins we see this summer. 

Here are some ideas to boost summer fun:

Join
424
others who have made the pledge!
Thank you for making the pledge!
Please try again
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Order Here
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More

Social Boosting

Have new people over and do new things. 

  • For example, here is a game I thought up that worked so well. Recently I had two moms over with daughters similar in age to my daughter (this was for the Tech Shabbat that I mentioned in last week’s Tech Talk Tuesday and in my recent Screenagers Podcast). We sat in the living room before eating, and I handed out paper and pens to everyone. Then I asked everyone to quickly write down all the little traditions they had in their families — old ones and current ones. After 3 minutes, we stopped writing. At that point, a mom-and-daughter pair shared from their list. One would read, and the other would see how many they both had on their list in common. The mom-daughter team with the most in common won. All six of us were laughing a ton, hearing things like “Sugar Cereal Sundays” or morning hugs with the ritual of the mom saying, “this hug will be the best part of the day.” (That last one was mine, and unfortunately, Tessa did not have that on her list.) 

Inviting over old friends, or people you want to get to know — maybe the parents of some of your kid’s friends, playing this game can be a way to get some good social time in and for your kids to realize we aren’t the only ones with “goofy” traditions. By the way, I am sure that the screen time of my youth, a la the Newlywed game show, inspired this game. 

  • Another idea is to have everyone do a personality questionnaire, and people bring their answers to the social gathering. I can’t say enough about how much most tweens and teens like to do personal assessments. Two popular free ones are The 5 Love Language which has tests for teens and adults, and the Character Strength Questionnaire also has one for kids/teens and adults. (There is the extra bonus of getting to talk about the pluses and minuses of trying to make broad generalizations from relatively few questions.) 

Health Boosting

  • Summer is great for fitting in more fresh eating, such as delicious fruits and vegetables. One idea is to challenge the family to make three meals together over a month using all parts of a vegetable. Consider this recipe called “Use All The Broccoli Stir Fry.” 

Many other recipes found here use all of a vegetable, such as kale ribs and leek tops. Knowing how to use the tops of carrots when you cook for friends is an excellent party trick. 

  • Do a signature dish challenge. Have everyone commit to making one dish over a month with the goal of seeing if any of the dishes are so good that someone wants to call it their signature dish. For example, two summers ago, my son was experimenting with cooking Indian dishes. From that, he got his “signature dish,” which is Tandoori Chicken. Here is a YouTube video of the recipe I would recommend — and note that paprika with a bit of cayenne can be used in place of the Kashmiri chili and skip the red dye.

As an aside, I have long been interested in nutrition and healthy cooking. In fact, this interest is how I found myself at Cornell for college since someone told me they had a good nutrition program. Also, I thought it was a lot closer to New York City than it was :) 

Kindness Boosting

  • For pets: Has your family ever done pet sitting? Now via Covid, there are many more pets than ever before, and as people head out to do some traveling, it’s a perfect time to consider giving a helping hand. 
  • For the planet: The magazine, Eating Well, has a 30-day Sustainable Eating Challenge that you and your family may want to do. Each day is very doable, such as “check your recycling,” and I like that it can spark little conversations during the 30 days. 
  • Volunteer to Connect With Older Adults. Check out Sages and Seekers. This program pairs students with older adults to have discussions about life. The core of the program is all about boosting empathy. 
  • Serve This Summer 2021 Power of Youth Challenge. America’s Promise Alliance’ Power of Youth Challenge: Serve This Summer is giving $300 mini-grants to teens to design and start a service project in their communities. Submissions are on a rolling basis but the sooner, the better. 

Art Boosting

  • Remember that many libraries are open and besides fantastic books, they often provide passes to museums. For example, in Seattle, a person can reserve one pass per week with their library card, and each pass includes at least two adult tickets.
  • Tessa and I have been doing encaustic painting. It is a bit tricky, but it is so beautiful. Here is a very short video of the easiest kind of encaustic painting. By the way, we started with a blow torch since we had one handy but have since purchased a small heat gun, and I feel much better about that, and I’m ditching the blow torch! 

Hobby Boosting

We love beekeeping, but clearly, that is a big hobby to start. How about setting out for a couple of bird-watching neighborhood outings? I have been fascinated by the baby crow I see out my window these days, watching it get fed by its mom.

Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More

Writing Boosting

Mission InspirEd, a student-run nonprofit organization based in Seattle, is looking to hire student blog writers. Authors will need to write blog articles between one-half to one and a half pages long on varying topics regarding education and access to education. For more information, email rishi_sujit@outlook.com.

Ideas to get the conversations started:

  1. Do you have one idea of a hobby you’d like to start this summer?
  2. Will you pre-commit to one of the ideas above with me? 
  3. If you were to volunteer one day a week this summer, where would it be?
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Order Here
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Find A screening Button

Find a Screening - Find a community screening close to you or watch our movies on demand

Learn More
Screenagers Podcast

Screenagers Podcast - Join Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD for the latest Podcast

Learn More
Book page button

Available now - Parenting in the Screen Age, from Screenagers filmmaker Delaney Ruston MD

Learn More
Host a Screening Button

Community Screenings - Learn more about hosting your own Screenagers community screening event!

Learn More
Creativity

12 Summer-Fun Ideas For The Whole Family

Delaney Ruston, MD
June 15, 2021
Teen girl doing encaustic painting

“Pre-commitment” is the term that comes to mind as I sit down to share some summer-fun ideas. In behavioral psychology, pre-commitment is all about doing an action, such as creating a contract with yourself before doing something, to increase the chance you actually do that something.  

Why do I bring up that term? It has to do with list-reading vs. list-doing. I think about all the lists I have read over the years on organization tips, arts and craft tips, and so on, and how so often I end up not doing a single one on the list. Can you relate? 

Something is soothing about picking up a magazine and reading through the idea, but actually doing one, that’s another story. At times I don’t pick one to do because I feel overwhelmed by the work of making a choice, and sometimes it is the work of doing the suggestion. 

I invite you to consider making a mental pre-commitment before you read the list of ideas. Commit to trying one of the things you are about to read. Ok, do you feel committed? (no problem if not, but super cool if you commit this second :)

Before we start, let me say that right now, my biggest advice to parents has been to make sure anxiety is not driving summer planning. One can feel a desire to “make up for lost time” and want to ensure plenty of sports, in-person social, reading, and the list goes on. Let’s keep remembering that “emotions are contagious” and try to prevent anxious feelings from intruding too often. Instead, let’s work to point out the things going right — and celebrate whatever little wins we see this summer. 

Here are some ideas to boost summer fun:

More Like This

Tech Revolution Quiz To Do With Your Kids
June 22, 2021
Creativity

Tech Revolution Quiz To Do With Your Kids

Last week I mentioned in the blog that youth often enjoy doing self-assessment questionnaires. Well, today it is about the fact that they — and, us, as well, appreciate a fun, competitive quiz. I have developed The Digital Age Quiz, tested it with youth, and it has been a hit. The key is to make it a competition. This quiz is great for everyone in your family, or group of any kind, even a summer camp group!

READ MORE >
12 Documentaries To Watch With Your Family
December 8, 2020
Creativity

12 Documentaries To Watch With Your Family

Today I have picked some docs that are sure to expand your youth’s knowledge of the environment, society, politics, and most of all, human nature and the human condition. Also, I include discussion questions for some of the films.

READ MORE >
2020 Non-Tech Holiday Gift Ideas
November 30, 2020
Creativity

2020 Non-Tech Holiday Gift Ideas

I have 22 tech-free gift ideas that will inspire, entertain, stretch, and delight the whole family for this holiday season.

READ MORE >

parenting in the screen age

for more like this, DR. DELANEY RUSTON'S NEW BOOK, PARENTING IN THE SCREEN AGE, IS THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE FOR TODAY’S PARENTS. WITH INSIGHTS ON SCREEN TIME FROM RESEARCHERS, INPUT FROM KIDS & TEENS, THIS BOOK IS PACKED WITH SOLUTIONS FOR HOW TO START AND SUSTAIN PRODUCTIVE FAMILY TALKS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND IT’S IMPACT ON OUR MENTAL WELLBEING.  

ORDER HERE
Parenting in the Screen Age book cover