Can’t stand to see your kids spending their weekends playing video games or lazing on the couch on a beautiful autumn afternoon? Plan some outdoor family activities that your kids are guaranteed to think are big fun but which are home—and neighborhood—improvement projects in (slight) disguise!
1. Rake the leaves. Okay, this may not sound like a traditionally “fun” activity for the whole family. But trust us, there are plenty of ways to make it more exciting and less like a chore. Like, turning it into a competition between siblings and parents, where the winner receives candy or gets to jump in the pile without having to re-rake. Or, for very small children, using it as a teaching opportunity about why the seasons change; then, collect as many differently-colored leaves as you can of the leaves and use them back indoors in crafts projects.
2. Clean the gutters. Adults hate gutter-cleaning. But kids think it’s exciting, especially if they’re allowed to climb the ladder. It’s a great chance for them to see the house and landscape from a whole new perspective, and learn all about ladder safety—which leads to more opportunities to climb it. While you’re teaching safety, make sure you’re practicing safety, too, never trying to balance two bodies on the ladder at once.
3. Put in solar lamps. Installing solar lamps is a great way to add some extra lighting to your outdoor spaces while spending some quality time with the family. Solar lights come in a variety of styles, and you can find everything from hanging types to in-ground stakes. The kids will especially love helping to choose the lights and find their ideal placement.
4. Remove graffiti. Graffiti—unless you’re lucky enough to have Bansky as a neighbor—can really detract from the neighborhood’s beauty. So, get a few families together to paint it over or remove it altogether. This is an opportunity for you to teach your kids about giving back and working together as a team, while picking up some practical skills at the same time. Some cities hold graffiti and litter cleanup events, so check your community calendar or with a representative at your local chamber of congress to see about pre-existing opportunities.
5. Build a house. Many non-profit organizations focus on building and repairing affordable housing—and there may even be an organization that could use some extra helping hands in your own neighborhood. This takes giving back to the next level. But be sure that, before you sign up, children are allowed to work on site.