Our Summer Staples for Big Kids

Gone are the days of water tables and swim diapers, at ages 10 and 8, my kids are officially in big kid territory. That doesn’t mean the fun ends though! They are capable of more adventures, longer stretches of activity, and later bedtimes, all which make summer a big ol adventure. If you’re looking for a summer staple list for young kids, check out Julie’s post.

You can certainly have a wonderful summer with nothing more than a hose and some popsicles, but I’ve found a few items that make a difference for us in maximizing the summer comfort and fun.

Athleta Clothes and Suits

I wrote a whole post on the girls’ summer wardrobe, but I feel like it is worth repeating that if you need a quality suit that holds up to sitting on the pool deck, jumping in waves, being sent through the washer (and dryer by mistake), and still looks bright and colorful and able to be passed down, you must consider an Athleta suit! I buy the tankinis and the one pieces for both kids and they are so cute and durable!

Additionally, their rompers are great- light weight, dry quickly, and are loose and comfortable for even the kids that get super bothered by tags and materials.

The Best Goggles

I tried (and broke) dozens of pairs of goggles so that you don’t have to. Over a year ago we found the best goggles and haven’t needed to buy a new pair since then. They are fog-free, have a lot of room around the eyes, are comfortable, and have no issues with leaks. Don’t sleep on these!


We hope to only continue to add to our family adventures with more hiking and outdoor adventures, so Keens make the best choice for our kids. They are sturdy and offer support, but are also able to tromp right through a river without getting soaked and heavy like a sneaker.

Kid Kayak

We have two of these kid kayaks (I recommend the bright colors like the lime green) and get so much use out of them each year. They are super easy for kids to paddle and navigate, making them a huge hit for my kids and also when friends come over with their kids. They are sturdy and durable and have lasted us years.

Neoprene Life Vest

Being on the lake a lot, we’ve tried out a lot of different kinds of life vests. Though I never found one I loved for the baby or toddler years, I can say with certainty that the Hyper Lite Life Vests are the best choice for kids once they are a little bigger for comfort and fit. If you are a Costco member, check there first because they sometimes have good deals. If you just need it now, you can click here.

Blue Lizard Sunscreen

I’ve been tempted to try the Supergoop that I’ve heard people rave about, but until I do, I’m pretty fond of the Blue Lizard Sport and their face stick (easy for the kids to apply themselves). I find it rubs in much better than other physical block sunscreens and I don’t have to yell at the kids to stay off any furniture once I’ve applied it. I actually don’t lather them in it all the time because I believe a little sunshine is a good thing, but if we are going to be out in the prime sun hours, Blue Lizard is my go to.

Cold Treat Makers

Whether it’s popsicle molds or an ice cream maker, it’s fun to have a seasonal gadget to play with in the kitchen. You can turn leftover smoothies into popsicles, make ice cream with fresh fruit (may I recommend peaches?!), or play around with some of the fancier popsicle options, like watermelon coconut pops!

Watermelon Coconut Popsicles

Sun Hats

These sun hats were so clutch on our cross country road trip last year, especially the time we spent at Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. They keep sun off the face, yes, but also off ears and the back of necks, and the kids never complained about having to wear them which tells me they are comfy.

Wet Brush

I am willing to bet that any girl mom out there already knows about the Wet Brush, but it was such a gamechanger for us for summer windblown tangles and after pool hair. The paddle version works best for us but we have several because it’s the only brush the girls and I use.

Woom Bikes

Yes, they are expensive but I have been so impressed at how these light weight kids bikes have held up for us over the past 2 years. After having a conversation with a friend the other day who was frustrated that the nice bikes they bought their kids were already showing signs of wear and tear, I believe even more than if you have kids that love to bike, the Woom bikes are worth it. Also, they hold up really well, so looking for a used one that someone is selling is a great idea to try first!

Hilton Head beach vacation 2020 (22 of 43)

Air Popper

After years of swearing the brown paper bag in the microwave trick or stovetop method worked just fine, I broke down and ordered this highly recommended air popper and I LOVE IT. We eat a lot of popcorn during read alouds and summer storm movie watching and this gadget makes the BEST popcorn with nothing but hot air. The butter melts on top and in two minutes you have fluffy and fresh popcorn with butter ready to go.

And with that rundown, I am now feeling all the summer vibes! What are your summer kid essentials? Anything I forgot? Oh, this may not fit exactly, but David bought this math dice game for the kids last week and it’s been a HUGE hit (who would have guessed?!). It incorporates addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, so if you’re kids are working on those things and you want to keep them practicing in a fun way, check this game out!

One thing I am interested in getting is some of those sand free towels; have you tried them? If so, do you have a recommendation on brand? I’ve been eyeing the Dock and Bay but would prefer a personal recommendation!

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