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17 Things to Do Before Summer Break Arrives

By Kyrie Collins, Macaroni Kid Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree Publisher May 3, 2018

Although summer doesn't officially begin until June 20, most schools in Douglas County have just a few weeks (gulp!) left in the school year. Tackle these tasks now so you can relax later and make the most of your summer fun!

1. First and foremost, make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter and bookmark the website! We'll have all the information you'll want like free summer concerts and movies, reading programs, adventure ideas, recipes, crafts, giveaways, and more. We are currently working on our Ultimate Summer Fun Guide to simplify your summer planning!

2. Follow us on Facebook. That's where we'll post last-minute reminders, event updates, coupons, flash sales, and special offers! The more you interact with us on Facebook, the more likely it is that our posts will show up in your newsfeed, so be sure to like, comment, and click regularly.

3. Make a Must-Do list. Have a family meeting and ask everyone to come up with 3-5 things that they absolutely want to do this summer (e.g., go on a hike, take a long bike ride, have a picnic, camp, visit Elitch Gardens or Water World, etc.). Schedule these activities on the calendar (and make reservations or buy tickets, if needed) to make sure they happen.

4. Organize a summer essentials tote for your car so you're prepared for any adventure.

  • Sunscreen (regular and waterproof)
  • Extra diapers, pull-ups, and swim diapers if your child is in that stage
  • A hat, swimsuit, towel, and change of clothes for everyone
  • Beach toys like pails, shovels, rakes, sand shapers, and trucks
  • Swimming accessories like goggles or floaties
  • Baby powder (sprinkle it on after sandbox play and the sand will literally brush right off)
  • Books, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles (in case you're stuck waiting somewhere)
  • Hoodies or sweatshirts for you and your child (drawstrings removed, of course)
  • A washable tote bag for wet or sandy clothes
  • A bottle of water and/or a bottle of wound cleanser plus hand sanitizer
  • Bandages and antibiotic cream or spray
  • Tweezers and alcohol wipes to clean them
  • Insect repellent and anti-itch cream or spray
  • Instant cold compress
  • Individually packaged non-perishable snacks like crackers or dried fruit

5. Check out the deal sites to save big on summer fun. In the past couple of weeks, I've purchased deals for white-water rafting, horseback riding, admission to an adventure park, miniature golf, and a few restaurants in downtown Denver so we can go have lunch with dad. But only buy a deal if it's something you've been wanting to do anyway AND you have room in your schedule for it.

6. Find a kid-swapping friend. Once a week, trade kids so every other week you've got an afternoon to yourself for errands, cleaning, or simply napping in the hammock.

7. Sign up for summer camp. Our Macaroni Kid Douglas County Summer Camps Guide has nearly 50 incredible local camps featured, and many of them have special offers just for Macaroni Kid readers. From performing arts to sports to academics, from camps that last just one afternoon to those that take place all summer... whatever your needs and interests, you'll find it there!

8. Purchase a State Parks Pass. At just $70 per year and 42 State Parks to choose from, a State Parks Pass is one of the best deals around. Visit swim beaches, take a kid-friendly hike, participate in Junior Ranger programming, and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine that makes Colorado one of the best places to be in the summertime!

9. Review the rules. From limits on screen time to household chores to wearing sunscreen, avoid a daily battle by discussing your house rules and the consequences for breaking them. Write them down and post them where everyone in the family can see them.

10. Talk safety, from playgrounds to swimming pools to private parts to bullying to drugs. Have regular, age-appropriate conversations with your kids so that it is a normal conversation rather than a scary topic. Need some talking points? The CDC's Keep Kids Safe This Summer webpage has a great collection of safety guidelines.

11. Collect phone numbers of school friends. Many of my sons' friends don't live in our neighborhood, so if we don't call and schedule a playdate (or "hang out," as they say now that they're tweens), we won't get to see them all summer.

12. Sort through summer clothes. Donate everything that doesn't fit and make a shopping list of what's needed. In addition to regular summer clothes, I buy each of my boys a couple of brightly-colored t-shirts (to make them easier to spot at a crowded park), a pair of water shoes (for splashing in the creek), and a sun hat and sun shirt (they are fair-skinned).

13. Schedule a pampering day (or two). Get a haircut and a massage. Paint your toes. Go to a spa (and call it a Mother's Day present to yourself) or gather some girlfriends and make a DIY Spa using items you probably already have in your kitchen.

14. Tune up and re-stock your summer gear. Head to your local dollar store for bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and pool toys. Check the tires and chains on your bikes. Make sure bike helmets still fit. Replace sunscreen that is more than three years old (or past its expiration date, if it has one). Examine your camping equipment.

15. Stock up on snacks. My kids are extra active during the summer so they tend to eat more too. Hit the warehouse store without the kids and stock up on more nutritious treats like yogurt tubes (which I keep in the freezer and serve in lieu of ice cream or other frozen items), baked crackers, applesauce pouches, and fruit cups.

16. Make a general weekly plan. Other things will come up, but I have a loose weekly plan that I use when I don't have the time, energy, or money to plan an exciting summer adventure. Mine looks like this:

  • Monday - Library Day to pick up books and movies for the week
  • Tuesday - Playground or Skate Park (or both)
  • Wednesday - Hang out with friends
  • Thursday - Swimming
  • Friday - Cooking and crafts

17. Make a phone call to a friend and talk for at least 10 minutes. Enjoy the fact that you didn't get interrupted every 37.2 seconds. Realize that it probably won't happen again till August.