Your kids are finally out for the summer! Congratulations! Except…not. You’re about to understand exactly what every teacher goes through during the weekday with your precious angel, except you don’t get a break, there is no weekend, and your precious angel knows the exact number of times to say your name until you crack.

You could spend the entire summer playing hide and seek…and we all know what a good hider you are. Or, you could waltz into summer with a carefully executed plan. I suggest the plan (though a game or twelve of hide and seek isn’t really out of the question).

Since we’re at the beginning of these loooong twelve or so weeks of summer, this is the perfect time to make a plan. When the kids go to bed, start making a list of things you can do. You can involve the kids at a later time to help you come up with ideas, but let’s get real. They think playing video games or watching Bubble Guppies on repeat is having a good time.

Stumped for good ideas? Here are five that will get you on your way:

  1. Have a baking day.

Sure, we’re talking major mess in the kitchen. But trust me, this is going to be fun. Plus, you’re teaching them life skills, so win! Even better, if they’re cute you can start your own cooking show, like this kid. Or you can just do it because baking makes people happy—during, and after when they get to eat the treats.

My kids’ favorite thing to make when they were little were snickerdoodles. You can find my favorite recipe here.

We’ve also made a lot of bread in our home. Here’s a recipe for oatmeal bread that was gone almost as soon as I made it.

  1. Make your own playdough

In the spirit of making things in the kitchen, this one is a fun one. Every parent needs this recipe as part of their parent training. I can remember my own mom making us playdough, and the sheer joy of pushing our hands in the still warm dough that smelled of grape or strawberry, or whatever flavor/color my mom chose to use that day.

I carried on the tradition with my kids, and now I pass it on to you. Try not to eat the dough (though it’s edible, so no worries if you do).

Kool-Aid Playdough
2 cups water
2 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup salt
1 tbsp cream of tartar
2 package (.13 oz each) unsweetened Kool-Aid
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Bring water to a boil. While it’s warming, whisk together the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and Kool-Aid. Stir in the vegetable oil with a spoon. Then carefully pour in the hot water, mixing it with a spoon until it’s combined. Knead it with more flour until it’s the right consistency. When done playing with it, store the playdough covered in the refrigerator.

  1. Tie dye!

My kids and I absolutely love tie dye! There’s something so cool about taking an article of clothing and transforming it into something vibrant and unique. The trick is in how you well you twist the clothes beforehand, and then how well you saturate it with dye. You’ll be disappointed if you go sparse on the color, so make sure every visible inch of the fabric is covered with dye.

Our favorite dye is from Dharma Trading, which you can find here.

  1. Send them to camp!

If your kids are a little older and ready to spend a few days away from you, this could absolutely make their summer. There are so many camps out there that will help your kids meet new friends, entertain them, and teach them new things. Plus, you get a kid free vacation without having to leave your home.

You can find the perfect camp for you child at the Press Democrat’s Camp Guide. It’s still not too late to enroll at some camps. My personal favorite, and one my kids have gone to for years (and one I’ve chaperoned at), is Sonoma County 4-H Camp. You don’t need to be a 4-H member, and it’s one of the most affordable camps I’ve seen for all they offer.

  1. Summer Bucket List.

Still stumped? Take out your pen and starting marking up your calendar. Have the kids help you make a list of at least one thing to do each week, then choose a day to do them. It could be a Friday fun day where you go to the beach one week, paint ceramics the next, and have a scavenger hunt the week after that. The sky is the limit! To make it even more fun, write down each idea on a strip of paper and then don’t choose it until your day of fun. At the end of the summer, you’ll have had a really fun summer, and enough memories to last a lifetime.

What are some of the ways you plan to have fun this summer? Let me know in the comments.

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Crissi Langwell is a Petaluma local, blended family mom to three young adults, and author of a bunch of books. Her newest book, Numbered, a dystopian romance that takes place in 2050, comes out June 27, 2019. Visit Crissi’s author website at crissilangwell.com.

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