I am a very practical person and like things to be easy and convenient. DIY is not my usual forte. Meanwhile, I have friends that make Martha Stewart look like an amateur. Rather than steal their ideas, I decided to dig deep and create my own DIY memories for my kids from the comfort of our backyard and driveway.

Homemade popsicles

I have to thank my aunt for this easy DIY project. She bought my kids a homemade Popsicle tray that seemed destined to be another plastic kitchenware to take up space in my already crowded cupboard. I even considered shipping it immediately to the basement to be a toy in the play kitchen’s abyss. But I showed restraint and a willingness to try, mainly at the insistence of my middle child.

Lucky for me, I have a very wise aunt. Her gift has helped me and my kids make an easy treat that’s also a healthier option than store-bought popsicles. We’ve made them from fresh-squeezed lemonade (with minimal sugar) and also from Crystal Light packages. I haven’t tried the yogurt or fruit smoothie route yet, but it’s on the agenda.

My kids enjoy seeing the whole process of making the drink, pouring it into the tray, placing the stem handles, and then waiting for the freezer to finish the job. These treats have been a big hit in town as we always make plenty to share with our friends and neighbors.

Water chalk paint

I have no idea why this DIY is fun, but my kids think it is amazing. I love it from a practical standpoint, because it requires zero planning. A sunny day is preferable, yet even that’s up for negotiation when it comes to implementing this activity.

Make sure you have sidewalk chalk aplenty, then just add water for more entertainment. My kiddos like to color the cement, deck, and stone fire pit with the chalk. Then we add water with paint brushes to turn their masterpieces into watercolor mosaics. The drips and splashes blend the colors and let them run together. My kids put the color wheel to the test, mixing different chalk to create and blend new colors.

Fresh-squeezed pink (or purple or blue) lemonade

One nice evening, we watched my friend’s children, which made for five kiddos running around the backyard. They were all begging for snacks a few minutes after finishing dinner. Knowing they were actually just looking for something to do, I took the opportunity to put into effect a DIY treat I’d been thinking about trying.

My youngest daughter is five years old and currently wants to be a baker when she grows up, so anything recipe related holds great appeal for her. She had found a recipe for fresh-squeezed lemonade in one of those ad magazines at our local coffee shop.

I asked my husband to help me quickly find a bunch of old mason jars with caps and lids. We then needed some water, sugar, and lemons. I also got inspired at the last moment and grabbed a small jar of pink sugar crystals left over from a birthday cake making session.

All five kids (ages two-and-a-half to eight) enjoyed squeezing their lemons, throwing the unwanted seeds into the yard, adding water and some sugar, and then shaking in some cake decorating crystals. They then screwed on their lids and started jumping and jiggling like crazy to “stir up” their lemonade, which turned pink thanks to the decorating crystals – a huge hit.

I plan to do this activity again, and next time have different colors of crystals on hand. The kids got a little sticky, but the lasting backyard entertainment and yummy slurp sounds were well worth the mess.

Obstacle courses

My family is in the “wheel stage” of life. We have numerous bikes, scooters, tricycles, and roller blades in the garage. We live on a quiet street, and our driveway has proven to have the perfect slant for bike races to the mailbox. Expanding upon our wheel-race challenges, we’ve started to set up obstacle courses with the neighbor kids.

Sidewalk chalk is again my best friend for summer. We use it to chart courses on the concrete, drawing in loops, circles, and boundaries for the kids to follow like a map. We use a stopwatch app on my phone as a timer, and there are always a couple “big kids” on hand to serve as judges.

The judge tracks the time of each contestant and keeps score either with the sidewalk chalk or a small dry erase board we keep in the garage. Our scoring system (one through 10) is not always the most democratic, but I’ve never had a West Side Story fight go down in my yard. The kids are too busy having fun to worry about winning and losing.

This activity is great for boys and girls. The majority of the little guys in my ’hood could care less about the organizational aspect of this activity, but they love the competition factor. The little ladies enjoy charting the scores and taking the reins when it comes to thinking up different obstacle course categories, like speed, accuracy, and creativity.

DIY does not have to be complicated

The simpler the better is my motto, especially when it comes to motherhood. DIY projects do not need to be expensive or complex in order to be fun for the family. Keeping things easy keeps me sane and feeling positive, which is beneficial to everyone in my household.