3 Activities to Inspire Independence in Kids

Have your kids uttered the deadly phrase “I’m bored” yet this summer?


The “B” word is forbidden as far as I am concerned. My mom always told us to make our own fun, and luckily I grew up in the middle of farm land where there were endless options to enjoy nature and create. We didn’t have to come back until dinnertime, and I don’t think my parents batted an eyelash about the fact that we weren’t within their sight. My kids live smack in the middle of suburbia, and I get the side eye from neighbors when my kid crosses the street without his hand firmly planted in mine.

We need to find ways to give our children freedom without letting them run wild, amiright? I tell my kids that my goal as a parent is to raise safe, healthy, independent children who contribute to society. They probably have no clue what I am talking about, but it makes me feel better to know what in the hell I am trying to do here.

Here are my top 3 activities to rev up your summer, inspire independence and give your kids a little confidence kick as well.


My 6 year old doesn’t really have an interest in learning to ride his bike.

Let me amend that statement- He doesn’t have an interest in learning to ride his bike from his mom and dad.

If he had a cool uncle or sibling who had the time and patience to hold his hand through the process, I am sure it would work. Not in the cards here, folks.

I signed Bryson up for Pedalheads in a few weeks, and he is truly excited about learning to ride a bike alongside kids his own age, with instructors who aren’t mom and dad. Pedalheads is a series of camps that promote health and development for children, and their bike camp just arrived in the Chicago area this summer. They offer eight instructional levels which take kids from “training wheels to trails,” and have camp sessions available through the last full week of August. They also teach bicycle safety, so those with inner city kids who have to navigate traffic can be confident in their abilities as well.

Click here to find out more info and sign your kid up!

MasterChef Junior

I recently attended the Kids Eat Chicago event at the Taste of Chicago this past weekend, hosted by Chicago Parent Magazine. They had seven MasterChef Junior contestants showing their skills, and I was so inspired that I came home and looked up kid-friendly recipes that my kids can do fairly solo. My husband told me that his mom used to have each sibling make dinner weekly at their house- I love the idea. I found a few that looked doable and plan on letting them make dinner one night a week. Kids are more likely to eat food that they help prepare, and realizing that dinner doesn’t magically appear on the table will help them appreciate the fact that you are making it for them every night.

Outta This World Pizza

Photo: MasterChef Junior

Yummy 7 Layer Dip

Photo: MasterChef Junior

Pork Belly in Your Belly!

Photo: MasterChef Junior

Want to give your kids their own tools in the kitchen? Grab this MasterChef Junior Cooking Essentials Set on Amazon.com:

And pre-order the MasterChef Junior Cookbook, out in August!

Camping Trip

Does the thought of heading somewhere quiet, where you can see the stars and actually talk to your kids because the WiFi is nonexistent appeal to you? Give camping a shot!

Luckily, there are many levels of camping to suit all tastes and comfort levels.

Two years ago, when Charlotte was still a baby, I took my kids to the Northwest KOA Campground in Union, Illinois. There, I rented a basic cabin that had beds, air conditioning and electricity for around $70/night.

The kids loved making their own dinner (hot dogs and “Hobo” pies) over the fire, and played with their cousins for hours.

The next day, we visited Wild West Town right next door and spent hours on rides, practicing our slingshot aim and panning for gold.

I loved “roughing it” a bit, and it allowed the kids to figure out challenges by themselves.

Overall, childhood is a time for kids to explore their independence and learn to problem solve on their own.

Oh and hey- their independence means less dependence on YOU!


Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary lessons through Pedalheads for review purposes. All opinions are honest and my own, as always!