Summer is not completely canceled. Here are 100 things we can do with or without kids.
Updated 2:14 PM ET, Thu July 23, 2020
(CNN)This is not the summer we had hoped or planned for.
The calendar is littered with canceled vacations and summer camps, shuttered pools and playgrounds, spots in our calendars meant to be spent with friends and loved ones.
The summer weeks ahead are filled with ... nothing. (For some, nothing but work.) Adults, kids and adults feeling like kids, all bored. And that boredom, combined with the fear of getting sick or actually getting sick, could make for a cruel summer.
But wait. There really is still fun to be had. With a little bit of imagination, we can set ourselves free from that cage of coronavirus. We can play silly games. Connect with family and friends. And find ways to express gratitude for others, including our families and first responders.
Make your summer list
It's time to write down a list of activities you and your family want to do this summer. It's an exercise that will free you from the limits of your four walls. Number your list from one to however far you get and maybe even write it down on actual paper.
This is not a homework assignment. It's about finding the joy that still exists inside you — kids and adults alike. Get the first few ideas out. Now keep going, because that's when the ideas get ridiculous and really fun.
Want to walk on the moon? Write it down. Want to play Quidditch with J.K. Rowling? Write it down. Want to use all those wacky kitchen devices you've never removed from their boxes? Time to write those ideas down.
No, you can't actually fly to outer space right now, but you could stargaze at night and learn about the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
My kid hasn't figured out how to play real Quidditch but we do have Ravenclaw-like robes and the Harry Potter edition of Clue, so we can figure it out. We may try to make butterbeer too.
Learn what your kids are thinking
If you want to know what your kids are thinking these days, ask them to make their own lists (and don't critique them). They'll tell you what they're thinking in those lists. And some of their ideas will be possible.
Nothing you or your loved ones write down means we won't still be scared or can't get sick or that we won't be in danger anymore.
But it can get you to figure out what's important to you, get your kids to think about what's still possible and fun, and connect you to the people you love (even by Zoom).
My 12 year-old's list included cooking shrimp and grits with Meme's recipe for dinner one night (Meme is one grandma's name), playing Monopoly, the first "Mary Poppins" movie and a living room sleepover. Oh, and I'm supposed to put down my phone while we do all these things, she requested.
I'm all in.
Need some starter ideas for your list? Use ours. When I sat down to write this list, I stared at my screen. One hundred things? Why did I suggest 100 things? But it got fun the longer my list got.
Here are 100 fun-in-my-opinion things to do this summer collected from colleagues, friends, family and me. I hope it salvages your summer and inspires your family as we navigate this new normal.
1. Family game night: Have a weekly game night, and rotate who chooses the game. We'll be playing Monopoly this weekend at my house. The first time, we'll use the Hasbro rules. The second time, we may use the lesser-known rules from The Landlord's Game, the original game created by Elizabeth Magie Phillips.
2. Family movie night: Show a movie on the main television in your home (we have one TV, so this is easy). Serve popcorn and sodas and sing along to "Mary Poppins," watch Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader duke it out in "Star Wars" or watch a modern Disney classic.
3. Family dance party: Host a family dance party to all sorts of different music and show the kids you can boogie (or salsa). Invite more guests via Zoom.
4. House or neighborhood scavenger hunt: Set up a scavenger hunt with clues at the end that involve a prize such as a favorite dessert or the winner's choice of movie night pick.
5. Create light: Make candles from scratch with yummy smells to give as presents.
6. Face painting: Learn to face paint and practice on each other. Hold a contest over Zoom to vote for "best paint job," "most realistic," "best superhero" and "scariest animal."
7. Do a puzzle: If you're bored with your puzzles, trade with a neighbor.
8. Lego challenges: Give everyone a bag of Lego pieces and charge your crew with building a house, a store, a park, their school or a castle in the sky — and then set the timer. Creativity wins! (There are great 30-day Lego challenges to be found online.)
9. Raise a glass to freedom: Sing straight through Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton." Not for little kids — we get it — but you can pretty much sing your way through the entire musical. Little kid substitute: "Mary Poppins," of course.
10. Each one, pick one: Each member of the family gets to pick something from his or her personal list for the whole family to do together. One rule: No picking something you already know another relative hates. Not fun!