Between camps, barbecues and epic pool parties, it might seem summer is set, but there is plenty of kid gear that can make the season even more fun for everyone. We're talking gently-used gear great for water sports, outside adventures, playtime with friends and exciting rainy day activities. Summer has just begun, so stock up on these seasonal essentials, best for school age children, but while they are still young enough to want to play.
Being outside as much as possible is one of the true joys of summertime play, and good gear can enhance the fun. For example, a solid bike and helmet. Aside from saving money and helping to cut back on waste, shopping for a gently-used bike means when your kid decides to practice daredevil tricks or wants to ride through every mud puddle, they aren't worried about scratching or getting their "new" bike dirty. It allows for more free play with less stress. As a bonus, when it's time for the bike to go, know that they have great resale value, so you can recoup some of the money spent.
Outdoor sports is another path many go on during the warmer months. Whether competing in soccer with a team or learning to play tennis or tossing a baseball around, there are a lot of ways to make sports part of the summer plan. Enhance whatever sport your child is into with second-hand kid gear such as balls, bats, helmets, nets and so on.
What's summer break without pool time? Stock up on sunscreen, beach towels, a cooler to cart around drinks, and all the water gear you can think of. This means inflatables your kids can sit on and float the day away, or knock their siblings out of and into the pool during a game of shark. Squirt guns and water launchers are just as fun and impish, for both the kids and adults involved.
If going to the beach or a sand bar near a lake or river, sandcastle toys are great to have around so the family can spend hours building epic structures, or at least, one big enough for a wayward crab and a toy mermaid to live in. Digging tools are fun as well since they can be used to dig to China (yes, my kid tries this often) and/or bury their parents in sand, which is actually more relaxing than it sounds as long as you have a careful child that doesn't throw the sand in your face. Make sure to bring along goggles and snorkeling gear, kickboards and life jackets for younger kids learning to swim.
Whether at the pool or beach, having a sun shade or pop-up tent is a good idea. This not only gives your kids a place to hang out outside without the sun beating down, but can be great if your 10-year-old decides to take a nap (yes, we are dreaming right now). It's also key for keeping sunscreen and that cooler from boiling in the direct light.
Let's face it, there will be times where it's too hot to play outside in the afternoon, and rain can always dampen the day. But that shouldn't stop summer break from being fun. Have an impromptu family game day by indulging in a slew of new board games. Good Buy Gear often has bundles of inexpensive, gently-used games for sale, which is a good way to try out a bunch of new ones and see what everyone really likes to play. We do book bundles too, which on a rainy morning is an easy and educational thing to break out to beat boredom.
Arts and crafts are another way to bring some creativity into the mix and entertain your kids. Have them build a birdhouse, work on sun catchers, get crazy with Shrinky Dinks, make jewelry or create their own comic book. Having coloring books and craft kits on hand can also be useful, then you don't have to worry about having the proper supplies. And, speaking of making things, LEGOs definitely fall into the rainy day doldrum breaker category. Most kids and even their adults love building a world out of these colorful bricks, and having a cache available for free play is a must. Bringing out a special and/or new LEGO kit can be a memorable treat, even better than summer camp for some kids. Good Buy Gear often has gently-used LEGOs and open-box or new sets for sale at a fraction of the retail cost.
Great General Gear and Ideas
It's easy to watch summer drift by and at the end, you may wonder what you did with your kids. One thing that can help ground this busy season is to make interesting goals for the whole family. For example, learn some magic tricks and perfect them enough to have a magic show for friends and family at the end of August. Get a yo-yo and practice tricks. Have them learn to use a new piece of gear or skill like skateboarding, roller skating, ping pong, double-dutch jump rope or archery (with rubber arrows of course).
If you go on a hike have your kids find flowers to draw and identify, same with birds, leaves and animals. If on a road trip, map it out and let your children draw a page each day about where they are, what they see and what they thought of it. Let the imagination flow by sketching out their perfect pool, playground, theme park and/or adventure park. A sketch book of adventure is a great tool for these ideas, as well as some well-sharpened colored pencils.
Finally, think about what will make summer special for your own kids. Would a special water bottle decked out in stickers to take to camp, on a hike or the park make them feel good? If they are doing a lot of day camps, a bento box or other lunchbox is a fresh addition to the backpack. Make these summer essentials part of your kids' memory, so that when it's all over there aren't just good things to reminisce on, but some things that can bring them right back to the moment.