Keeping kids entertained during the summer is already a difficult enough task, between choosing camps, hosting pool parties, organizing playdates and managing the downtime spent at home. Remove the extracurricular activities from the picture and, hoo boy, the job of a parent becomes significantly more difficult.
There is no easy solution to filling hours of free time, especially when your kids just want to run wild and play by their own rules. So, as much as they’d love to spend every minute in the pool or playing in the sprinklers in the backyard—or worse, eating up screen time—your kids need more this summer. They need hobbies and educational toys and programs that they might not even realize are educational.
And, most importantly, parents need the gear that will help keep kids safe throughout it all. We have some fun ideas, so hopefully this helps.
Fair Harbor Aeon
One of the things that made Fair Harbor’s shorts a must-have for men in our Summer Gear Guide was the company’s devotion to eco-friendly materials. The other big reason is comfort, as the anti-chafe liner is so important, especially on softer skin. The Aeon Kids Trunk is a favorite for parents who expect comfort and safety in a boy’s swimming gear, but dads will especially love the fashion aspect, since they can buy matching pairs. (That’s great for at least a year’s worth of embarrassing family photos.)
Hanna Andersson Printed Rash Guard Set
When it comes to Hanna Andersson clothes for kids, the biggest pro and only con go hand-in-hand. The pro? Durable, adorable styles for play, swim and sleep, and each design, from the superheroes to the princesses, is so picture-perfect that you’ll want to buy them all. And the con? Your kids grow so fast that they only get to wear them for maybe a year.
At least they’re giftable.
Oh, and they’re also designed with your child’s comfort in mind, which is one of the many other pros. So, that simply means that the new styles for the Printed Rash Guard Set will please parents and children alike, and that goes for whomever you give them to next summer as well.
For the younger splashers who still haven’t mastered the water, TrustyTrunks is a diaper cover designed to eliminate swimming pool whoopsies while keeping children comfortable. Swim diapers are great for this, sure, but they’re far from perfect. TrustyTrunks adds another layer of protection, as this leakproof silicone diaper cover keeps potty in and irritants out. The material is also non-abrasive and easy to clean, so it’s a win-win-win.
Totts Safe Travels Kit
No matter how old a child gets, there’s always a mess. When it comes to travel with a young child, though, you already have a lot on your mind, so making sure you have all your cleaning supplies in one place shouldn’t be a burden. That’s why mom Alejandra Tejada created Totts, so that parents could order custom Safe Travels Kits for children of all ages. Take away the stress of making sure you have all the various wipes you could ever need—yes, please.
Best of all, Totts will even send the kit to your destination so you don’t need to surrender precious luggage space if you’re trying to pack light. Just remember to bring wipes for the plane or car, or else you’ll certainly be in a sticky situation.
Delta Children Jeep Gemini Stroller
Whether you’re flying, driving or sticking to causal neighborhood strolls for entertainment, parents with small children need durable, safe strollers. Even if you’re not flying and going through the frustrations of checking a stroller or trying to navigate small spaces with a large red bag on your shoulder (for the car seat, the accordion stroller or both) strollers still take up a lot of space at home, be it in the garage or the trunk of your car. But designs are getting better and smarter, and strollers like the Delta Children Jeep Gemini are being built with compact convenience in mind, while not skimping on safety.
Best of all, this convertible, compact stroller doesn’t skimp on the bells and whistles—reflective shoulder pads for evening strolls, a peek-a-boo window for spying on a napping toddler, the removable child bar—and it still weighs in at under 20 pounds, so you don’t need to feel like a CrossFit champion every time you pull it out of the trunk and unfold it.
Delta Children Destination Side x Side
If you’re a theme park parent, you probably know the stigma of double strollers. You’ve seen the mean stares and eye rolls when you and yours come barreling down a walkway, but what are you supposed to do? It’s not like theme parks and other packed places that provide double strollers are making your job any easier with the Winnebagos they expect you to use. Have you seen the double strollers at the Magic Kingdom? It’s like they repurposed the old carts from Mister Toad’s Wild Ride.
The solution for an easier experience for everyone is Delta Children’s Destination Side x Side stroller, which is slimmer than most and even folds up for a convenient carrying experience. It’s enough to make Sally Side Eye’s glare one of envy.
Wagons are great stroller alternatives because they offer additional space for parents, be it for blankets or a picnic basket, and some even have cup holders, which are especially great for parents on long strolls around the neighborhood. The problem, though, is that traditional wagons are lousy for travel. For example, I have a big red behemoth of a covered wagon for my son that not only doesn’t fit in a car, but it also takes up a ton of space in the garage. No good.
The Wonderfold Wagon solves that problem and then some. Offered in a variety of sizes and colors, this stroller-wagon has plenty of features to love. But it starts with the easy folding and unfolding process, which means you can pack the Wonderfold Wagon away in the trunk for a road trip to the beach, and when you get there and unpack, everyone will still ride in style and comfort.
Little Global Citizens
Now is a better time than ever to use extra free time to teach our kids about the rest of the world. If we can’t be out there traveling and exploring, the least we can do is prepare a generation of young adventurers to appreciate faraway places so that they can eventually visit and experience them as if they’ve been there before. Little Global Citizens is a really cool subscription service that provides children with an education-based box every other month, each one focused on a different country.
Boxes include guides, crafts, games, puzzles, language skills, recipes, story books and more. The only thing missing is the travel itinerary your child will demand to create once he or she becomes obsessed with visiting these countries.
Another subscription service, this one focuses on kids with a culinary spark. If your children are curious about other countries and learning new cuisine, eat2explore delivers recipes and (most) ingredients from a new nation each month, which is awesome if your kids have only been learning how to cook brownies and muffins and your quarantine weight is rising like the temperature.
Best of all, the service includes a passport that kids can update with travel stickers and flag pins so they can really feel like they’re accomplishing world travel, even if they never leave the kitchen and dining room.
My Discovery Telescope
My son has finally entered his outer space phase, and he’s recently become obsessed with asking about planets and constellations. The best solution for that, aside from relevant learning apps that will keep him from watching Lego DC movies all the time, is a telescope so I can tell him, “Take a look for yourself.”
The Thames and Kosmos My Discovery Telescope allows your child to begin a lifetime of exploration, launched with a view of the moon’s surface and maybe one day culminating in an incredible citizen scientist discovery that will change the way NASA views space travel. At the very least, your kid might get to name a comet, so fingers crossed my son remembers who bought the telescope in the first place.
Also from Thames and Kosmos, this solar-powered rover is essentially a bundle of incredible science lessons in one fun device. Each kit allows for the construction of five different models that will teach a child (and probably many adults) all about solar cells and the sun’s energy. And maybe if you’re truly lucky, this will lead to the creation of your very own housekeeping robot, since we all dream about having our own Rosey from The Jetsons.