This summer's memories of spending time with your family are likely to begin in the backyard. So, make sure to make them tons of fun. Lifestyle blogger Jessica Dill says utilizing your backyard for activities is a great way to connect with one another. “Going out into our backyards is great for these families who’ve been stuck inside for so long, and now we get this little break by going outside,” says Dill, a former TV news reporter and anchor, who you can catch up with at jessicalynndill.com. “It just brings a little bit more new fun into our lives.” Here, she shares five activities that we can’t wait to set up in our backyards.
Catch Lightning Bugs
As adults, we all get a little more squeamish around bugs than we used to as kids. Dill says if you swallow that discomfort, you can recapture your sense of adventure by spending summer nights in the backyard chasing lightning bugs. Try making a game out of it by seeing who can catch the most fireflies. “It’s a little bit of challenge — you can’t always catch lightning bugs,” Dill says. “[After lighting up], it goes away for a little bit. Then it’ll light up somewhere else.” She says to make sure you poke holes in a container. “And then of course, we would want to let them go at the end,” Dill says.
Watch The Birds
While the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo or Lake Metroparks Farmpark are loaded with fun animals to see, don’t miss the wildlife in your own backyard. Dill recently put up a birdhouse, and it has provided endless entertainment for her 7-month-old daughter Vivian. “We get to see the different cardinals and blue jays come into the back,” she says, “but it’s an extra bonus to see [Vivian] watching them.” Dill suggests using a pair of binoculars and a bird-watching guide to identify and keep track of species. “It’s just fun because you don’t know what you’re going to get,” she says.
Play Backyard Games
Heat up family game night and throw down in your own backyard Olympics with giant versions of classic board games such as Jenga or Connect Four. “The big games are fun for adults and actually good for kids too,” Dill says. Or, she says, families can get creative and make their own games. Try taking a large piece of white cardboard or construction paper, taping tic-tac-toe lines on it, and using two differently colored sets of frisbees or cornhole beanbags (you know you have them) to mark your spaces. “If you don’t want to buy something on Amazon, I for sure think it’s about getting creative and making up your own game,” Dill says.
Pack A Picnic
Put a backyard spin on al fresco dining by unfurling a hardy blanket and having a family-dinner picnic. Dill recommends dishes that are easy to eat casually, such as a grilled vegetable and chicken dish she and her husband make. Dice the cooked ingredients and serve in a bowl with a fork. She recommends using paper plates and cups to make cleanup easier. “[Eating outside] just kind of makes dinner a little bit different because it’s not your routine sitting at your dinner table,” says Dill. “You get to be more relaxed.”