Summer Fun Ideas for Caregivers of Young Children in Montana

Summertime in Montana can be paradise! It can also be a time when many families experience changes in childcare routines and find themselves scrambling to find balance. Keeping in mind that summer isn’t a break for parents and caregivers of young children, we wanted to share some ideas to make the most of the summer months while ensuring a safe, fun, and engaging experience for your little ones.

Utilize Public Libraries

Public libraries are an excellent resource during the summer. Many libraries in Montana offer free programs specifically designed for babies and toddlers. From story time to music and movement classes, these programs provide a structured, yet fun environment for early childhood development. Check out the LIFTS online resource guide for public libraries to find a library near you and learn about their summer reading programs and other activities.

Explore a New Play Space

There are many parks and play areas across the state that are perfect for young children. Before heading out, check the LIFTS online resource guide for play spaces. Visiting different parks not only keeps the scenery fresh but also helps kiddos develop social skills as they interact with other children.

Addressing Food Insecurity

Summertime can be particularly challenging for families facing food insecurity. It’s important to know that resources are available to help. The LIFTS online resource guide under food and nutrition supports can connect you with local partners and organizations that provide food assistance. Support is available to ensure that no child experiences hunger during the summer.

Organize Rotating Play Dates

Consider organizing a rotating play date schedule with other parents and caregivers. This not only gives children the opportunity to play with friends but also allows you some much-needed time to work, run errands, or simply take a break. Rotating responsibilities among a responsible and supportive group of adults helps create a community where everyone benefits.

Have a Picnic

Take advantage of Montana’s natural beauty by having a family picnic. Whether it’s in your backyard, at a local park, or by a scenic lake, picnics are a delightful way to spend time together. Pack a simple meal, bring a blanket, look at the shapes in the clouds, and enjoy the fresh air while your little one explores the outdoors.

Enjoy Free and Simple Activities

You don’t need expensive toys to keep your child entertained. Some of the best summer activities are free and can be done right at home. A few easy favorites include:

  • Make your own water table. Fill a plastic bowl with safe kitchen utensils for water play – it’s amazing how much fun toddlers can have with a little water and some simple tools.
  • Play “washing up.” Give your child a spray bottle with water and let them “clean” their toys or outdoor furniture. It’s a great way to keep them occupied and cool on a hot day.
  • Make and play with bubbles! If you’re out of store-bought bubbles, an easy recipe you can make at home simply requires you to mix three ingredients: 2 tbsp sugar, 1/2 cup hot water, 1 cup room temperature water, and 1/2 cup liquid dish soap.

Visit Montana State Parks

Many Montanans opt to pay the $9 fee when licensing their vehicles, which grants access to all Montana State Parks. There are many parks across the state, offering a range of activities such as hiking, picnicking, and exploring nature trails. The parks are not only beautiful but also provide a rich learning environment for young children.

Additional Tips

  • Dress in Layers: Montanans know that if you don’t like the weather now, wait 15 minutes because it will probably change! Make sure to pack appropriate layers for any outdoor adventures.
  • Be Bear (and all animal!) Aware: We have the good fortune of an abundance of wildlife in Montana – in both urban and wilderness settings. Don’t forget to be “bear aware” and conscientious of all wild animals.
  • Stay Safe: Always apply sunscreen, dress your child in appropriate clothing, and ensure they stay hydrated.
  • Be Prepared: Carry a bag with essentials like snacks, water, diapers, and a change of clothes.
  • Capture Memories: Don’t forget to take pictures and videos to capture these precious moments.
Let us know if you have any easy and engaging ideas to share!