This summer it’s more important than ever to find unique ways to stay happy & healthy. There are plenty of ways to connect safely with family & friends and find fun ways to encourage healthy habits all summer long.

A recent CNN article gave a list of 100 summer ideas. Here are some highlights:

STAYING ACTIVE

Map the neighborhood: Walk your neighborhood and see if your family can make a map from your house to another location. If they can’t get off your property, have them do it inside. (You’ll be surprised at what they might notice.)

Hike the park: Time to find your nearest state or national park or national forest to get outside (with proper social distancing) to take a walk or hike.
 
Dance, dance, dance: Time to dance like no one is watching (’cause they’re not). Learn to dance from the professionals. It’s super fun and you can get some exercise, too
 
Walk a dog: Become a volunteer dog walker for your less mobile or elderly neighbors, or the local shelters. Cat socializers are needed for local shelters that may be short-staffed or low on volunteers.
 
Couch exercise! Exercise on your couch together with Netflix. Win-win.

FUN & ENTERTAINMENT 

Create a splash pad: Before there were nearby pools or even living in a beach town, we’d turn on the hose in the backyard to cool down. Sometimes we’d add plastic bags on a slope to make a slip and slide.
 
Have a water balloon fight: Send your kids outside to battle it out and get soaked or join in on the fun. Fill small balloons inside or with a water hose. Make sure adults also get doused.
 
Go to the drive-in: If you have a drive-in in your town, head there. What’s old is cool again. 

Camp out in your backyard: That travel is limited this summer doesn’t mean you can’t mimic experiences at home. Pitch a tent in the backyard for a few nights. You could even have a campfire in your backyard if your city and state allow it.

NUTRITION

Host a Meatless Monday dinner: No, I’m not trying to make you go vegetarian. If you live in a meat-centric country, consider many cultures have delicious vegetarian or even vegan main courses without making it a statement.
 
Pantry challenge: Pick an ingredient out of the pantry or refrigerator and cook from it. You can look at cookbooks for recipes or check online for guidance. Today’s challenge — or perhaps opportunity — could be that random eggplant from our vegetable delivery bag or the lentils a friend gave me when she moved out of town.
 
Bake for a neighbor: My favorite neighbors are stress baking and walking baked goods over (masked, of course). Then I share them with my other neighbors. And scones go with tea. See how it all works?
 
Grow herbs, lettuces and flowers: We’re planting cilantro, basil and parsley in our container garden with high hopes for summer. Or have everyone plant sunflower seeds and patiently see whose will sprout first. As it grows we’ll measure it, and once it flowers we’ll use the seeds to feed the birds. It’s also good for us.
 
Use that equipment: Is there kitchen equipment in your hallway closet or attic that you’ve never used? It’s time to get out that pasta or Popsicle maker, spiralizer or AeroPress coffee maker (that’s on me) and learn how to use it.

MENTAL HEALTH

Chalk messages of hope: Lots of people are walking outside these days, and your kids can cheer them up with hopeful messages.
 
Question a day: If the grandparents live far away, try connecting them with your kids with a question a day. Ours have been simple: What’s your favorite ice cream? Stuffed animal? Why do we love koalas so much?

Go to sleep early: Why not? We’re all stressed out and anxious about the pandemic, and lack of sleep makes us more vulnerable to illness. Routine, cooler temperatures and a dark room are key to good sleep. Good night!

Really talk: Talk about the pandemic and how it’s affecting you. Talk about your hopes and dreams and fears. Listen to what others have to say. Connect and keep that base strong to support you and your family

For even more ideas, read the full list here.