My Kids Hate Going Outside During the Summer

Updated on July 21, 2013
M.E. asks from Tampa, FL
26 answers

We live in Florida and don't have a pool. I have the same problem every summer, my kids don't want to go outside. They complain that they are bored and no kids are out, which is sort of true. I usually have to drive them somewhere for entertainment. I am happy to entertain them but days when we are home they drive me a bit crazy. All they want to do is the computer or tv. I have set up chores for computer time rule.

With the hot weather down here and no way to cool off unless we go somewhere, should I force them outside more? I feel like they are isolating themselves inside. My 12 year old chooses to stay inside and hangs out with his 6 and 7 year old siblings all day. He doesn't seek out kids his age in the neighborhood at all. There are kids in the neighborhood behind us that he could meet and socialize with.

In regards to camps, my older son did a baseball camp for a week and loved it. We can't afford to do camps all the time for all three kids. We have done many fun things this summer so far. We went to Epcot a few days ago. We go to the library quite a bit for free art classes, shows, etc. We do the beach and community pool or spray park. Occasionally we spend time with friends. Some days I just need to be home to get things done. Wish they enjoyed the outside but they don't .

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So What Happened?

Thanks. I like the no tv/computer time between 8:30 to 7:30 or something like that. I thought the chores for screen time would work and it was helpful for a while but now that's all they want to do. We do get out. We were at the beach for almost 4 hrs. yesterday. Today their grandmother took them to the movies. However, there are days when I need to be home and they are bored. Their friends are either at camp, don't live on our block, so they can't just show up. They watch the same tv episodes over and over and I really don't think it's healthy at all.

I remember my Mom locking me out of the house so I would play outside. It worked. We were out nonstop. It was an enjoyable summer too.

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answers from St. Louis on

Do you own a hose? I think every home has an exterior faucet. Water balloons? Bucket of water? Just think outside the box. My kids spend all day outside with their friends and we have a pool, no one in the pool, all of them on bikes. Really bikes aren't bad when it is how because you are moving so there is a nice breeze.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My girlfriend was home one summmer with her kids when she had her youngest.. Her rule was .. TV/Computer off at 8:30 not back on until 7:30. You go out, play in the sprinker, find friend etc.. Read a book .. but no TV/Computer here or elsewhere.

As long as they are not on screen.. let them do as they need. read, craft listen to books on tape etc..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

As long as it's not too hot, I do force my grandchildren to go outside. I tell them I don't care if they sit on the porch and twittle their thumbs, it's a nice day and they need to be outside. They may complain, but when I look out there, I find that they have ALWAYS found something/someone to play with and are having a good time.

Parents MUST force their kids to go outside for exercise. One of the reasons childhood obesity is such a problem is that kids sit in front of computers, gaming systems or tv all day.

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answers from Honolulu on

Does your 12 year old have friends from school? If so then invite them over for play dates.
Do so for your younger ones as well.

2) If they are bored and refuse to go outside, then oh well.
Let them be bored.
Kids need to think. Of what to do. Not just having others entertain them all the time.
Tell them they cannot go on the computer or tv.
Tell them they need to think of something.
It is a life lesson and an opportunity for THEM to be creative.

3) have them do workbooks. Read. Draw.
4) Give them assignments. 1/2 hour.
5) Have them do chores around the house. Just have them do things in the house, clean, cook, help you with whatever.
My 6 year old even helps to wash the van. Sweep. Water the plants and feed the pets. My 10 year old cooks.

6) take them to the library and borrow books. Or audio books.
Have them WRITE about it.
Have them keep a journal, in an composition book. The younger ones can journal by drawing pictures in it.

Make your kids, responsible for thinking on their own. Too.
They are old enough.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I can only imagine how hot it is... Can you set up some playdates where you take friends to the outings you do and in exchange the friends take yours swimming? I'd feel badly forcing kids out into really hot weather unless it's to swim...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't like the heat either. We belong to a pool so that always helped us stay cool. Even if we only went for an hour or so at least that gave the kids some exercise before coming back home to veg in front of the TV or computer. And because there were lifeguards I could start leaving my kids there when they were 8 or 9, which was great for me (and them, because there were friends to hang out with every day!)
We also had their friends over, a LOT. My kids were entertained and I was able to get stuff done when they were occupied, even if they were just playing video games at least they were being social. Usually we had to call the parents to bring them over because none of their friends live nearby but it was so worth it. I actually preferred to have kids come over here so I didn't have to stop what I was doing to drive them somewhere.
Good luck, twelve is a hard age. Maybe next summer he can do scouts or sign up for a summer sport (like swim team) or do some classes at the Y, something where he spends a lot of time with kids his own age.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Myers on

I am in Fl too. I do think it is important to get them out there, even in the heat. Plenty of adults work in the heat. I think they will be too sheltered. Lots of grew up doing things that we would not allow our kids to do now. But still there is plenty to get them out. Even if it is for an hour, pick a cool time of the day even, under a shade tent, or take water and put on sunscreen.
I once heard a doctor that a kid with no cuts or bruises, he is actually concerned because kids don't get out and be kids.
Some ideas: sidewalk chalk, dig a hole, plant something, help with yardwork, play tag, spray with hose, take a walk, go the park, playground, throw tennis balls.
If you leave it up to them, they won't pick one and be excited about it. Just say "Today I want to do this..." and get them out there moving. Or have 5 activities on a sheet and have them pick one every day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i have zero patience for 'bored' complaints. do NOT 'be happy to entertain them.' it's not helpful. kids NEED to figure out how to entertain themselves, and if parents weren't always frantically trying to help, they would.
nix the screens. period. i don't even like having them earn screen time, it keeps it in that 'omg must attain the prize' zone. keep them off between 10 and 5 (or whatever time you find appropriate) and be firm about it. they HAVE to figure out other things to do.
i think it's fine to provide a number of possibilities for them. an art table, board games, and of course, plenty of books. if that doesn't float their boats, it's on them to figure it out. if they whine, give them chores.
you're already providing plenty of fun. allow them to develop imagination and creativity. don't do any more.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I completely understand.

I remember being a child in the summer and it was over 100 degrees outside and then the humidity!

We were sent out to play in the morning and again in the early evenings. Parks, hiking, riding bikes, maybe sprinkler, wade pool, slip and slide.. we had a swing set..

We did have a patio cover and we would take a box fan out there. My mother had us place an insulated water jug out there with iced water.. back in the day koolade. I would do lemonade. reusable plastic cups. our names were written on them. We were not allowed to "run in and out of the house".. because "ya'll will let the cold air out."

My best friend had a play house so we would play in there, Box fans with long electrical cords helped.

Then when it just got too hot, we came i and played board games, cards, records that we would dance to.. One summer we worked on a dance routine.. Then lunch. rest and then the neighborhood swimming pool.. Come home clean up, dinner and then outside for a while longer to run around and enjoy our parents being home from work..

When our daughter was young she was in day care so they also played outside in the morning from drop off to about 9:30.. Then crafts, or project, story time, Sometimes swimming lessons, inside play, lunch, nap, more inside play and then outside play till parents picked them up.

Their entire playground was covered and shaded by tres. It was still hot, but at least no beating down heat.

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answers from Boca Raton on

join a pool somewhere. we finally got a pool this year and oh my god how did i survive the summers before this one without a pool? 4 hrs swimming today. 6 yesterday and we got out only because we had a storm :). so yeah, living in tampa, there must be access to jin community pools for the summer and usually they are not expensive.

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answers from Washington DC on

Sprinklers are awesome. Water blasters, cheap plastic wading pool, water toys, sand table, whatever it takes. One thing I'm very conscious of is to make sure I go outside every day with them. It helps them realize that it can be fun even if it's hot (yes, it can be miserable at times, but worth it). If I sit and complain about the heat/humidity, then force them to go outside, I'm being a hypocrite. Better to be a good example. Try to join the fun sometimes, at least until they find ways to amuse themselves. :)

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answers from Washington DC on

Where do you spend your day?

Until you make time to be outside **yourself**, they will do as mommy does, not as mommy says.

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answers from Washington DC on

If they don't go outside, at least give the screens a rest. Say that for x time during they day they need to find something else to do. If they are bored, they can pull an additional chore out of a chore jar.

I would encourage playdates with friends and invite kids over as appropriate. It's 94F with what feels like 100% humidity here and *I* don't want to go out anywhere, either. If you want to send them out, consider doing so before lunch when it's cooler.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Get them out early in the morning - like 7am and they can be out till 9:30 or 10-ish.
Come inside for 10am to 3 or 4pm, then back outside from 4pm to 7pm-ish or dusk.
Just because they are inside is no excuse to OD on the computer.
Set a limit (1 or 2 hrs per day) and then turn it off.
They can read, build jigsaw puzzles, play cards, do crafts, clean stuff, help with chores, do laundry/dishes/wash windows, etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

In Colorado the morning and evenings are somewhat cool, even in July. But, for what it's worth, my grandchildren don't like to play outside much in heat. I can't blame them. They will play outside in the morning and the evening, they enjoy sprinkler games (but we're on water restriction this summer so we can't do that), and they'll play at the playground (just up the street) for a little while - maybe fifteen or twenty minutes - before they start feeling like melted popsicles.

Your children seem to be in a position in which they need to learn to entertain themselves. It's always been a challenge for kids to learn do, I think. With my grandkids, I have found that the less TV time they have, the better off we all are. Even when a show is enjoyable, TV seems to act as a drug of sorts; I find that they get so locked into the TV world that they have a hard time coming out of it, and they're either grouchy, lethargic, or over-silly for an hour after that. I imagine it would be the same with electronic and computer games.

What can your children do with art supplies - paper, paints, crayons, pencils, scissors? What can they do with craft supplies? Yes, thay may take a little supervision. But if there are things they can enjoy making, and can make now for Christmas presents for their aunts and uncles, it might absorb their interest for a while. Have lots of scratch paper for drawing, writing stories, making paper airplanes (show them how - they may not know what you're talking about but you can look it up online). Got any old board games? As a matter of fact, got any Legos? They're a bear to clean up, but they can engage the brain. Let your older boy play with his siblings if he wants to - it could be a good change for him for a bit. If he wants to do something past their age interest, let him. If he hasn't read about poor ol' bored, bored Milo (THE PHANTOM TOLLBOTH), find him the book at the library, or read it to him out loud (mama/son bonding).

If they're all so bored they can't get started on anything, say to each, "Here are three possibilities for this morning. Choose one and go at it until the timer goes off. I need an hour to do my own work, and then we'll set up the sprinklers." Be with them off and on, though. They like to have you around, and this is your chance to BE around.

I've been interested this summer to see that because my older granddaughters (7, 10, 12) did not have TV as a default activity, they discovered the little-kid toys their younger cousins play with when they visit (the old Fisher-Price city toys), and are enjoying those. They're even playing with baby dolls. And why not? It's fine for a hot-weather activity and a change from an older kid's "real life."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

my kids are much much younger but they enjoy tents, spriklers and water gun fights. a boy and a girl. you could get them an easy tent to set up . were south texas and i totally understand the heat and humititiy perhaps if they went out doors in the evenings. also if you turn the internet access off and say its out they will find something to do. i swear my mom would lock us outside for awhile. we drank from a hose and i guess we went to our neighbors for bathroom but we had fun and explored the outside. we had freedom of the neighborhood. perhaps a bike ride with them...perhapes you have to show an interest in the outdoors as well.

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answers from Chicago on

Besides helping your kids to arrange playdates, I would let them hang around indoors if it's hot so long as they aren't staring at screens all day. I agree that you can set up sprinklers outside for some fun.

I remember spending the super hot days indoors reading or doing crafts. Luckily when we got older we could go to a pool.

They should be able to entertain themselves if they are indoors or out. Send them out on the cooler days.

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answers from Springfield on

Did you sign them up for any camps or anything? Three months is a very long time to simply entertain yourself.

There are lots of day camps and classes through the YMCA, park district, lots of other places, as well. At this point in the summer there are probable still some churches that have VBS, which is often very cheap or free.

My 7 year old did several half day camps this summer. He really enjoyed them and still had a good portion of the day to play at home. I don't think I've heard him say he was bored all summer. Doesn't mean he doesn't ask to watch a little tv or play video games once in awhile, but overall he's had a great summer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If it is hot, it makes it hard. But do your kids have some friends they could call to invite over to make it more fun? I know what you mean about driving you nuts. I put money away in our work dependent care account so I can afford a few camps to make things easier. The YMCA is usually pretty cheap and they also have "non-camp" activities for the kids for a few hours each day.

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answers from Detroit on

That's tough. But it's no different here. I put mine all in camps every day. They get outside and make friends and don't watch tv. Community center camps are free. When not at camp we usually go somewhere.

They only go outside here (at home) if they are wet as it's too hot. And it's not Florida!

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answers from Philadelphia on

Join a pool or send your kids to camp even if it is only 1/2 day camp. It is really no wonder they are bored. Aren't you kind of bored too?

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answers from Grand Forks on

Could you set up a sprinkler or a slip and slide for them to play with in the yard when it is hot? Are there no community pools or wading pool within biking distance? Don 't they have school friends they can call or meet up with? On days when I need to stay home and do housework etc I send the kids out to ride bikes, run through sprinklers, to go to the local wading pool/splash pad, to call on their friends or just to play at the playground.

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answers from Detroit on

most days we go somewhere. vacation bible school last week $15 for the week...

this week swim class..

we go to movies, putt putt golf parks the beach... you name it we go. we don't usually spend a lot of money.. we pack a picnic and go to the free spray park. .. and we go out for 3 hours or so.. not all day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

It's often too hot with the humidity to be outside at our house during the day in the summer. My kids usually go out in the morning and in the later part of the evening but never during the hottest part unless they are swimming at their grandparents house. They go to daycare 1x a week and usually to their grandparents 1x every week or every other week. The other three days they are at home with dad and just do whatever they choose - most often they play with matchbox cars, color, my daughter makes jewelry out of beads, they play legos, play computer games and watch tv.


answers from Santa Fe on

It's because it is humid where you are. Where we live the heat feels so much better. What I would do if I were you is set up alternating play dates with your kid's good friends. Have their friends come to your house one day a week and have them go off to their friend's house one day a week (or do it every other week). Or plan on going outside with them to do a bike ride or walk late in the day when it is slightly cooler (if it gets cooler there...maybe it doesn't).



answers from Miami on

Hi. I grew up in Florida and live in a warm climate as I can relate. in addition to the good responses below...
- we also try to go outside before 10 to a park....
- i try to schedule at least one activity per day outside the house and outside of a park -- even to the grocery store, shopping mall and so forth...just to walk around and have a change of scenery.
-- we also do indoor picnics at the windows and pretend we are outside, but stay in the shade
-- can you go to the library once a week?
-- or a museum?....
-- and making popsicles at home from frozen juice...or yogurt shakes...
Stay cool!

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