So, I had started to talk and think about activities for the summer of 2020, which is something I did for 2019. I had a whole list for summer 2019, which as I've mentioned before, was the first summer I worked at a school and had summer off. I was pretty excited for Summer Number 2, and wanted to go through my previous calendar and list to decide what had worked and what had not.

And then COVID happened.

Obviously, plans have changed. We had purchased a year-long pass at the Minnesota Zoo. I was really excited to spend some beautiful mornings and lazy afternoons seeing all the animals. And now, not only is the zoo currently closed, but they are reportedly "on the brink of closure." We typically only go to Como Zoo because it's free, but had taken a chance on buying a family pass this year. Oops. I am concerned about the workers at the zoo, and hope they are able to find work or get through this.

Last summer, we spent many mornings at various lakes, beaches, and parks. This year we'll have to either find mostly-empty places, or risk catching COVID. The lack of typical public spaces is really jarring. I really feel for families who live in apartments, for example, and don't have a backyard for their kids to hang out in. I also feel sad for all the kids at home this summer (my own included) who won't necessarily be able to go over and visit their friends.

But we will have to make it through the summer. I suppose families made it through the 1918 flu and the polio crisis, and we can make it through COVID as best we can. So I'll start to compile my summer plans here! I'll divide them by category: things to do at home, things to do on a rainy day, adventures out of the house, and short but fun activities. I hope these can be helpful you. Enjoy!

At home

1. Dirt Garden
My kids LOVE to dig in the dirt, and we have an empty garden bed in the backyard. We've packed it up with shovels, cars, and trucks to drive through the dirt. They will seriously play quietly in the dirt for 30 minutes while I drink my coffee in the morning!

2. Sports
Any kind of sports equipment in the backyard. We have lacrosse sticks, a basketball, a racquetball racket, and various balls. They love to run around and play together, or ask Kamran and I to join in with their invented sports.

3. Watering the plants
Mini-watering can and a toy fire extinguisher. Voila, the plants are watered!

4. Learning French
I decided to start teaching the kids some French this summer. We started the week after school got out. I just speak a lot of conversational French between 8am and 4pm, and teach them some vocabulary and basic phrases. I suppose it's not really an activity, but it does divide the day nicely and keeps my mind busy! Plus, hearing my 3 year old repeat French phrases with beautiful pronunciation is heart-warming.

5. Going for a jog
Rami accompanies me on jogs three times a week. It wears him out (he is refusing naps these days unless he is exceptionally tired), it gets me working out and getting fit, and it gets us both out of the house for a bit! He rides on his balance bike while I jog, and honestly, I usually run/jog more when he's there because he doesn't stop, and I can't let him bike too far from me! I always feel really great afterward.

Rainy Day

1. Building a fort
Rainy days are definitely harder, but we also make it work. Both kids love building forts, and we put up the pillows and blankets to make the forts extra dark, then put flashlights or other small lights inside. Both kids enjoy reading books by themselves in their forts! (Let's be honest, they usually have to be separate so they don't get mad at each other!)

2. The Letter Box Game
This is a game the kids invented where they take our little magnetic letters and put them through a slot in a cardboard box. They will do this for upwards of 45 minutes. They are weird.

3. Library
We like to play "library" by each picking out a book and then reading it quietly on our own. I love reading, so this gives me time to read something for myself. Plus I hope I'm modeling that reading is fun, for the kids to see! They also like to pretend to check out their books from our local librarian Miss Lisa!

4. Puzzles
They both love puzzles, and do the same 8-10 puzzles over and over!

5. Trains, cars, and trucks
Both kids enjoy playing with Things That Go.

Adventures in the Twin Cities

So far, we have mostly stayed at home or around our neighborhood. However, we have started to venture out a little further. We have always loved Minnehaha Falls, for example, and have been there several times already. During weekday mornings, the Falls don't have as many visitors, and we feel very safe social distancing and still enjoying the trails, wading in the stream, and look up at the waterfall.
We also have frequented several other waterfalls, lakes, beaches, parks, and nature reserves. Kamran and I both value time outdoors, and hope to pass that on to our children. Rami and I have even started birding, and Rami knows several birds (cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, blue jays, and goldfinches!)

Short but fun

  1. Play dough
  2. Bath time (sometimes to wash up, sometimes just to play)
  3. Cooking/baking
  4. Cuddles while reading
  5. Audiobooks
  6. Dress-Up
  7. Telling stories
  8. Watching the garbage truck and mail carrier
  9. Sidewalk chalk
  10. Car wash (either our actual cars, or toy cars)

Again, I hope these are helpful! (And it's okay to use screen time if you need to, to stay sane!)