20 Ways to Keep the Kids Cool & Occupied Without a Pool

Mandy Velez | Jul 8, 2019 Home & Garden
20 Ways to Keep the Kids Cool & Occupied Without a Pool
Image: @twinshenanigans via Twenty20

slip and slide
@twinshenanigans via Twenty20

These days, pools and summer go together like peanut butter and jelly. It makes sense: they're a way to cool the kids down while also letting them enjoy themselves (and moms can, too). But a pool isn't an option for everyone. Whether a backyard just doesn't have one or there's not a community one nearby, there are plenty of reasons a pool day just isn't in the cards. With that said, a summer day without a pool can still be fun. And it is still possible for kids to get wet. There are tons of ways to keep cool without a swim -- it's just a matter of getting creative and thinking outside the box. With a tarp laying around, or sponges and a hose, the possibilities for water time are endless.

Yes, it's even possible to turn a backyard into a water park if one should want to go that far. So how exactly does one stay cool and keep the kids cool and occupied? Start with household objects, like sponges or buckets, and fill them with water. Remember that tarp above? Great, create a slip and slide. Just remember to keep an eye out and stay safe. (Pro tip: Remove any rocks from underneath any slip and slides or thinly lined baby pools.) If it's possible to keep them busy during a rainy day, it's just as doable to do so on a summer day. Because it's incredibly easy to get wet, and for once, it's OK for them to. So when other summer activities aren't doable a certain day, or if there's a heatwave, these ideas are cheap and easy options. 

Happy splashing! 

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  • Set Up a Sprinkler

    sprinkler and child
    @christinacorso via Twenty20

    A sprinkler is the classic no-pool alternative that truly gets anyone just as wet and cooled down. They sell them on Amazon or local retailers, but it's also fairly easy to make them using PVC pipe or pool noodles.

  • Blow Up Some Water Balloons

    water balloons
    @amyhilbrand via Twenty20

    Water balloons can keep things cool but also make a for a good game, too. Grab some at the dollar store, fill them up and have a toss or game of tag.

  • Play a Sponge Toss Game

    @Ole_CNX via Twenty20

    One of the simplest but most fun backyard water games has to be playing with sponges. Kids can have relay races or a toss.

  • Have Some Fun Watering the Plants

    watering plants
    @darby via Twenty20

    Take an opportunity to water the plants. The hose is basically a sprinkler and, hey, kids can pretend they're flowers for a bit.

  • Make Popsicles

    @FloridaSunshine via Twenty20

    There's just something so refreshing about an ice pop on a hot summer day. Make it an activity by making them at home and add fresh fruit to the mix. 

  • Unroll the Slip N Slide

    slip and slide
    @twinshenanigans via Twenty20

    Slip N Slides are easily kids' top water activities, even if there is a pool involved. Purchase a tarp at the store or check for a clean and safe one in the garage. Turn on the hose, maybe add some olive oil, and let the sliding begin.

  • Break Out the Water Soakers

    noodle water soaker
    @christiancabarrocas via Twenty20

    Play water tag with a water soaker! They sell water soakers at the store but noodles can work just as well. There's lots of other things to make out of noodles, too. 

  • Blow Up an Inflatable Pool

    baby pool
    @JoesBoilingPoint via Twenty20

    OK, this may count as cheating, but inflatable pools are quick and hold-over alternatives to bigger pools. They can be sat in and cool off whoever is in it quickly. 

  • Head to Local Playground With a Splash Pad

    park sprinkler
    @RLTheis via Twenty20

    Go big or go home with the sprinkler route. Many parks or playgrounds have splash pads in the summer for kids to play around in. Head over there to get wet and play.

  • Bob for Rubber Ducks (or Apples)

    water pool
    @amyhilbrand via Twenty20

    Turn a carnival game into a fun backyard one. Fill a tub, bin, or mini pool with apples or rubber ducks and have the kids bob for them (with supervision, of course). Whoever gets the most wins! And is wet! Yay!

  • Check the Community Pool for Day Passes

    community pool
    @AZ.BLT via Twenty20

    This one might count as cheating, too, but it's technically a thing to do if one doesn't have a pool in the backyard. Public pools are often free and many communities have day rates and discounted night rates.

  • Head to a Fun Museum

    water table museum
    @bluepluto via Twenty20

    Museums can have water fun, too! Many kids' museums have water tables for the little ones and air conditioning for mom and dad. It's a win-win for everyone.

  • Make Ice Cream

    kids making ice cream
    @lira_n4 via Twenty20

    It's not summer without ice cream. Either go out for some scoops or have the little ones make their own. Making DIY ice cream at home super easy and the kids will have the satisfaction of tasting their hard work at the end. 

  • Paint With Water


    Painting can be mess-free, believe it or not. Break out the paintbrushes and a bucket of water and have kids decorate the sidewalk with their designs. 

  • Purchase a Splash Pad Mat


    Play mats work well for moms with babies or toddlers. Just sit 'em down on the pad and let them splash away. 

    Splash Pad ($23, Amazon)

  • Play Catch With a Squishy Water Ball

    water ball
    @himonly4her via Twenty20

    For the more sports-oriented kids, turn a regular game of catch into a water sport. (Well, sorta.) Wet a regular ball, or get one of those water-absorbant squishy ones for a game of catch.

  • Find a Nearby Lake or Spring

    kids in lake
    @DelanahBanana via Twenty20

    What's a pool got on natural bodies of water? Find a lake or spring nearby (or if one is lucky enough, a beach) and let the kids splash around.

  • Do a Toy 'Car Wash'

    car wash
    @Lord_Shadow_King via Twenty20

    Picture this: mom gets to finally wash her car and kids can get wet. Or they can wash their toys, too. Whatever the case, it's a win-win scenario for all.

  • Make a DIY Dump Bucket Game

    dump bucket
    @forceflick via Twenty20

    Remember the Ice Bucket challenge? Bring that back with a water bucket game the older kids can make the rules for -- or a fun little kid-appropriate version. 

  • Play a 'Pass the Water' Game


    Have a relay race game that also doubles as a water one. Fill a cup a water and have the kids sit in a line, one in front of the other. Give the cup to the first child in line and have them pass the cup to the person behind them, over their heads, without spilling. 

  • Pin It!

    ways to keep the kids cool & occupied without a pool pinterest image

    Add this graphic to your Pinterest boards to save these adorable ideas for keeping your kids cool and occupied without a pool!

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