Make More Fun: 36 Kid-Friendly Summer Life Hacks

Tips from parents to make summer fun easier!

By Rachael Weiss, publisher of Macaroni Kid Fort Mill and Union, S.C. & Jestine Mayes, publisher of Macaroni Kid Johnstown - Laurel Highlands - Altoona, PA July 10, 2021

Summer is chaotic and amazing in our house. Between trips to the pool, driveway and backyard fun, beach trips, and camp, we are ALWAYS on the go. Anything that can make my life easier is a welcome addition — and I know I can't be the only mom who could use EASY!

So I asked Macaroni Kid publishers from around the country for their favorite summer tricks and tips, and we came up with a bang-up list of 36 summer life hacks that will ensure you have more time for fun with your family. 

Whether you are saving money, time, or both — you will want to bookmark this page and roll out some of these great tips for whatever your summer plans entail!

Photo by Rachael Weiss

Summer food hacks:

  • Keep kids' hands from getting sticky while eating frozen treats by using either a small paper cup (upside down) or a cupcake liner on the stick. Cut a small hole into the cup or liner, feed the popsicle stick through it, and voilà! 
  • Cupcake liners also make great drink-savers! Place them over the tops of drinks to keep the bugs out.
  • Fill water bottles halfway and lay them on their side in the freezer to create an icicle inside that will keep the water cool throughout the day!
  • Frozen dish sponges (use new!) in zip up bags are GREAT to keep things cool. 
  • Love corn on the cob? A Bundt pan makes it so easy to cut corn off the cob. The center hole holds the cob in place and the kernels fall right into the pan.

Leung Cho Pan via Canva

Playtime hacks:

  • Tape containers of bubbles to chair or table legs to keep littles from tipping them empty.
  • Use empty bubble containers to make lightsabers! Simply drop a glow stick inside the tube and take it outside at dusk.
  • Use a rinsed out plastic container or inexpensive plastic drink dispenser to store extra bubbles for easy refill.
  • Bathtub appliques on the bottom of a kiddie pool (plastic or inflatable) keep little feet from slipping! 
  • No water table? No problem! Fill different plastic bins or bowls up with water and bring out the plastic kitchen tools. Let the kiddos make their own water table fun!
  • Freeze little toys inside a bowl of water and have the kids spray with water to melt them out.

Getty Images via Canva

Beach hacks:

  • Use baby powder on little arms and legs before you head to the beach to keep sand from sticking.
  • Large paintbrushes (like for your home!) are excellent de-sanding tools for your chairs and other beach accessories.
  • Bring small sandwich bags (reusable or plastic) to the beach and fill with sand upon arrival. Use them to weigh down your towels and blankets so that you don't get sand in your face every time the wind blows.
  • Use an old shampoo bottle or baby wipe container to "hide" your valuables while at the beach. 
  • Take a blow-up pool to the beach and fill it with ocean water so your kids can splash under your umbrella/tent.
  • No blow-up pool? Use a plastic shower curtain in a dug hole to help you make a small "pool" for the littles who want to splash but are either afraid of the ocean/lake or are too little to really splash and play. All you do is dig the hole, line it with the plastic curtain, and then fill it up with ocean water. Voilà!  
  • Bring a bright pinwheel to the beach so kids can see where you are at all times while in water. 

Getty Images Signature via Canva

Car hacks:

  • Keep a pool bag in the car with sunscreen, towels, bathing suits, and flip-flops or water shoes for impromptu pool days.
  • Always keep extra kid shoes in the car. Take this a step further with an extra outfit for each kid in case of accidents or impromptu sleep-overs.
  • Inflatable booster seats are awesome. They don't take up a lot of room and give another car seat option in case a friend wants to join your kids last minute on an outing.
  • Keep extra towels in the car to put down on the seats — kids can sit on them if leather seats are too hot, if they have wet bottoms, or their clothes/legs are sandy.
  • Organizing bins or bags for different activities will keep you ahead of the game while trying to load your family up. We keep one for the pool, one for parks, and one for road trips — each is filled with different snacks, games, towels, sunscreen, and other necessities for that activity. We also keep a pillow and blanket in the car for each kid if they want to take a nap. 
  • Use silicone muffin cups in the cup holders of your car for easier mess clean-ups.

Photo by Rachael Weiss

Pool hacks:

  • If your plastic pool float rips, grab parchment paper and an iron, lay the float flat where the seam will be, and iron it back together through the paper. This works best when the tear is ON the seam, but can also work in other places.
  • Use a balloon to help unclog little swimmers' ears — even if they can't blow up a balloon just yet, the act of trying to blow it up might help them unclog their ears.
  • Lingerie bags make the best pool toy holders. You can hang them to dry and hopefully avoid the dreaded moldy toys you might otherwise get! 
  • Another great pool toy hack is a tall laundry basket, preferably on wheels for easy mobility. You can throw the noodles and toys together in it and the kids can help you roll it. 
  • Don't have a pool at your disposal? Rent a hotel room during the week to use the pool. Best mom ever! 

Getty Images via Canva

Parenting hacks:

  • Dryer sheets repel mosquitos.
  • Aloe vera "ice cubes" are great when you get just a little too much sun. Simply cut a piece of an aloe vera plant off and freeze or refrigerate it to rub on sensitive spots.
  • Toothpaste can take the itch out of those bug bites, so never leave home without it! 
  • A DIY carwash is a great way to keep the kids busy and cool for a few hours. Plus you *might* get a clean car out of it!
  • Store individual servings of good-for-you snacks in a drawer of the refrigerator so it's easy for the kids to grab something healthy to eat. 
  • Use a makeup blender sponge to apply sunscreen to little faces. Also helps avoid the cries about sunscreen in their eyes!
  • Keep pants in the car for hot slides.
  • Make sure to bookmark your local Macaroni Kid events calendar for easy family-fun ideas at all times!

Rachael Weiss is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Fort Mill and Union, S.C.