Depending on what part of the country you may call home, the end of summer is very near or well underway. No matter which way you shake it, we’re over the halfway hurdle. Raise your hand if you're as bummed as I am about that fact. Well, just to lift up our spirits, I thought I'd share a handful of ideas to help make the most of what's left of it. Sometimes by this point there’s a bit of a drain and it’s tough to figure out how to use everyone’s free time best. Feel free to pick one or several; the ultimate goal is for low-stress fun! Go on a local day trip! Who says all vacations need to be weeklong treks? Pretend you're a tourist and research your area as if it's the first time you've heard of the place. You may be surprised at what you find! For example, my area is small and on the depressed side. However, we have historical and natural gems to visit - like a state park system larger than the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and Great Smokies National Parks COMBINED, the nationally renowned Baseball Hall of Fame, great kid-friendly beaches, and tons of other small nuggets to try out, it tells me that no matter where you live, there's something to do some place. Seriously. Bonus link: I love these tips for planning a “daycation.” Get wet! It's been HOT, hasn't it? Like, super hot. Sure, you could sit in the air conditioning to cool off, but it’s way more fun to get outside It can be simple like setting up a water table or sprinkler, or as grandiose as heading to a splash pad or water park. No matter what you do, make sure YOU get in on the action, too! Bonus link: How to make your own simple water table at home! Make some cool treats. Y’know that “hot” thing? What cools you off better than nice, cool, sweet treat? Popsicles, smoothies, ice cream, slushies - the sky’s the limit, and if you make them at home you’ll know every ingredient (unlike when you buy them at the store or from the ice cream truck guy). Try some of these recipes and, of course, get the kiddos involved if they’re big enough! Connect with your kids by reliving your own childhood memories. We all have different memories that pop out in our heads about summer as kids. Depending on your child’s age, pick one that you can share with a new generation. Just remember that it’ll never be exactly the way it was when you were a kid, so it’s all about creating new, just-as-good-but-different memories. It can be as simple as having a “picnic” lunch on the living room floor or sleeping on top of your blanket with your head at the end of the bed (we didn't have A/C as kids so I think this was to be closer to the ceiling fan, ha!) or as silly as a water gun fight or firefly catching. Making s’mores or going fishing, whatever it is it’ll be fun to see it through the eyes of your own little ones this time. Hit the movies. Okay, this may only be me, but my spouse and I haven’t been to a movie in a real theater in - wait for it - FIVE YEARS. We went before we had our 4-year-old (pretty sure it was before we were even pregnant), life got in the way, and then we had our now 8-month-old. Considering we’re two movie lovers (and that my husband has written/directed several of his own), that’s absurd. Why haven’t we gone? Either it’s too big of a time sucker of a date (dinner? Yes. Dinner + movie? Slow down, there, shotgun.) or there’s nothing to see or, y’know, newborn, or it’s just easier to watch an old DVD in our PJs at home...the excuses pile up. So, why is summertime a great time to take in a flick? Firstly, it’s air conditioned. Secondly, many local theaters have free family movies (sometimes mid-morning during the week) that are perfect for kids who haven’t quite got the etiquette down. It’s way more laid-back and low-stress to practice our, say, not talking at the screen when, you’re surrounded by other like-minded families. Plus, did I mention FREE? We hope you’re enjoying your summer so far and having tons of fun with your loved ones. We’d all love to hear your suggestions for simple summer fun in the comments!