Spring has the promise of longer days and warmer temperatures, but depending on where you live, you are often reminded that it is still spring. Rainy days (sometimes snow days!), cool temperatures and, of course, the dreaded school vacations for parents. It can be a long time until summer, but there are ways to bring the summer fun a bit closer. In fact, you can bring it right into your house!

One weekend, or during school vacation week, tell the kids that they are going camping…in the family room! That night, set up a tent inside the house. If you don’t have a tent, or the budget for one, take some blankets and create blanket tents using a couple of kitchen chairs. Roll out some sleeping bags or put some blankets and pillows on the floor. If you have a fireplace, create a small fire. If you don’t have a fireplace, then light some candles for a similar ambience. If you have younger children and/or are concerned about open flame, purchase some flameless candles and group together on the floor for a fun, faux campfire. For dinner, make hotdogs and serve on paper plates. For dessert, make s’mores using an indoor S’mores Maker
that you can find online or in kitchen speciality stores. If you don’t want to make the investment, you can always serve s’mores ice cream! You can purchase chocolate ice cream, mini marshmallows and graham crackers. Crush the graham crackers and sprinkle, along with the mini marshmallows, on top of the chocolate ice cream. Yum!

Then have the kids get settled on their sleeping bags and turn out the lights. Give everyone a flashlight, which you can find for a few bucks at a dollar store or discount store. Then instead of video games or movies, read stories by flashlight or have each kid make up stories of their own. One fun game is to start telling a story and then pass it along to the next person to add to the story,  and so on and so forth. Then when the kids are sound asleep in their tents, you can slip into your bedroom for a good night sleep in your bed. No bug spray or SPF necessary.

This post was written by Toy Insider Parent Panelist Charlene DeLoach