fbpx ;

10 Backyard Must-Haves to Help You Survive the Summer

Now that it’s nice and warm, my kids and I have been outside as much as possible. After way too many months of being cooped up indoors, we’re pretty much always slathered in sunscreen and enjoying the sunshine. We eat on the back porch, play on the swing set, splash in the water table. We ride bikes and trikes and take walks around the block and head to the park or the pool. With my belly growing and my energy retreating just a bit, some days I just don’t have it in me to head to the park, particularly when it’s super hot. But being stocked up on all kinds of fun summer toys ensures fun for the kids no matter what. Here are a few of our necessities for backyard — and front yard — fun, along with an item I just might have to check out for myself!


10 Backyard Must-Haves for Summer Fun

1. Water table and/or pool. My daughter has loved her water table ever since she was able to stand, and at almost 4 years old, she still plays in it all the time. Her 2-year-old playmate loves it, too, and they spend time pouring and scooping — and overwatering my plants. Put the kids in swimsuits, make sure there are plenty of cups and spoons and water toys, and they’ll be likely to kill an hour playing. I haven’t purchased a kiddie pool yet, but I need to get on it ASAP, especially considering the fact that the kids are trying to climb into the water table on a regular basis. I know they would spend so much time splashing and pouring water on each others’ heads.

2. Swing set. My husband was not completely thrilled when I adopted a swing set from neighbors who were getting rid of it. He knew it would make mowing the lawn more of a pain. But I knew it would be worth that pain because of the hours of fun the kids would have. I was totally right, and even my husband admitted it the other day. If you can swing it, or get a good used one, swing sets are worth their weight in gold!

3. A sprinkler. What do kids love as much as splashing in water? Running through it! Whether you use a sprinkler from your home improvement center or a toy, it won’t matter to the kids as long as the water is flowing.

4. Squirt guns. My daughter “borrowed” a Super Soaker squirt gun from the neighbors. Seeing as it was bigger than she is, I didn’t think I had to worry about getting soaked. She proved me wrong as she wielded that thing like a pro and chased our 8- and 10-year-old neighbors while giggling madly. I will totally be getting her one of her own (and maybe a smaller version for her brother so he stands a chance!).

5. Sidewalk chalk. Sidewalk chalk is a staple in our house. The kids love to scribble and do their version of hopscotch, and it keeps them busy for a long time. Plus, I get to practice drawing trains.

6. Bubbles. Kids and bubbles are a match made in heaven. Kids love to (try to) blow bubbles and they love even more to chase and pop them. If you don’t want to get lightheaded, buy a bubble blower to do the work for you.

7. Phlat Ball. The Phlat Ball V3 ($17.99) is a cool toy that transforms from a 9-inch disc to a 6-inch ball when thrown. You throw a disc, and catch a ball! I haven’t tried this out, but it looks cool and I can just see it blowing the minds of little kids. WHOA….phlat-ball-585

8. Popsicles. I recently bought popsicles for the kids at the strategically placed ice cream truck at a local park, and while holy goodness was it messy, I’ve never seen two happier kids. Just make them run through the sprinkler afterwards.

9. Access to leaves, twigs and rocks. It’s so true that you can have all of the best toys and gadgets around, and all the kids want to play with is a stick and a rock. We’ll go on a walk and my kids worry about finding the best stick before we get home. They see a cool rock (or even a not-so-cool rock)? It’s a keeper! Here, they were taking leaves from the rose bush and piling them up with mulch-making magic potions and birthday cakes. Sorry, rose bush.


10. A no-worries attitude about dirt. Once summer hits, the winter days of skipping baths are over. Take kids outside and it’s a guaranteed sweat, water, dirt and mud-fest. I’ve long since let go of any hope of cleanliness and just embrace the fact that my kids will dig in the dirt and be kids. I draw the line at mulch in the hair and diaper, but I remind myself that all of the time spent being messy outside is time spent not getting the house messier!

What backyard toys do you deem absolute musts for summer? —Erin

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!