9 kids outdoor toys that save this mom's sanity in summer

With summer here I keep my kids outside as much as possible.  But to keep a 2 and almost 5 year old entertained for endless hours (and to keep my own sanity) the best outdoor toys are a necessity-- because a simple swing's not gonna cut it all.summer.long.

I rolled my eyes when my sister - aka childless aunt - gave my 4 year old this huge Crayola Inflatable Easel.  I am usually not a fan of blow up toys because they require so much time to inflate and deflate - but did you know you can use a nebulizer as an air pump?  OMG my friend just told me this trick instead of using the standard hot air or foot pump methods.

Turns out the giant easel is totally cool and the envy of my friends' kids (and their moms).  After the kids are done painting on it or drawing with chalk you can just squirt it down with the hose.  I actually threw the canvas in the washer and it came out like new.

So that's #1 on my list..but here are eight more outdoor kids toys that you'll need to get through the summer without the bugs kids eating you alive.

Sprinkler Tide Pool - Connect the pool to the hose and it inflates itself with water.  The pressure of the water creates a sprinkler which you can adjust the height of by turning the water pressure up or down.  I used this with my son as a just-one year old last year, but my daughter, who's nearly 5 loves it just as much this year.  Plus, it prevents me from having to fill up a pool and set up the sprinkler!

Sand and Water Table - Yes, the sand is a mess...but it keeps them entertained all summer.  My kids love this sand and water table and beg me to pull it out of the shed year-round.  I like the cover that you can easily throw on top and the drain that easily lets the water out without having to dump the sand, too.  That's my daughter there in the top middle - almost 4 years ago! In other words - this thing is built to last! (It's hard to believe all these little kiddos are going to kindergarten in the fall!)

Outdoor House - My kids love their Neat and Tidy Cottage by Step2 especially because there are two small seats and a table inside.  They think it's the greatest thing ever that they can eat lunch in there.   The working doorbell and shutters are my son's favorite features.   I have my husband blow out the leaves and dirt with the leaf blower and we squirt it down with the hose occasionally.

Flying Turtle - If you're an 80's child, you'll recognize this one - and may even still fit on it!  My daughter LOVES her flying turtle (and so do the neighbor kids!) They're a bit pricey,  but they last forever and with a 150 pound weight limit, they're built for kids ages 2-92.  I gotta admit, I'm not above a loop around the driveway on this thing myself! 

Power Wheels - I don't think there is an outdoor toy that's gotten more use at our house, than our Power Wheels....clearly we needed another one for this little guy, and now we have it!  

Kites - Kites are surprisingly easy for kids - even my 2 year old was able to get the hang of it once we got the kite up in the air for him.  On a breezy day at the park or the beach, the challenge of fascination a kite provides is a great form of entertainment for kids.

Inflatable Ball Pit - Again, this one has required a lot of hot air...but it's also given me a chance to actually use a patio chair.  (Imagine that!) Yup, my kids love playing in their ball pit.  They run and jump in it, roll in it, throw the balls all over the place.  In other words - they love it.  We even move it into the basement for indoor use when it's too cold to play with it outside.

Front Bike Seat - Our iBert Safe-T Front Mounted Child Bicycle Seat has probably gone no fewer than 200 miles.  We've used it for at least four years and we ride sometimes three times a day when we're at the beach.  My daughter used it until she was about 4, when we moved her into a bike trailer (she's not as much of a fan of this), so my son could sit in it.  It's great because you can actually talk to the child, they get a nice breeze, and the adult rider isn't blocking the child's view. 

NOTE: I used personal pictures for this post intentionally.  These are not stock photos, these are my kids and these are my personal recommendations and opinions based on my own experiences as a real SAHM who seeks to find creative ways to entertain two preschoolers for hours and hours on end.   I was not given any compensation for this post. 

What kids outdoor toys keep your kids entertained? I'd love for you to share in the comments section.

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