For Neil Patrick Harris, the expression "the lazy days of summer" just doesn't apply.
In addition to preparing for his upcoming variety show, NBC's Best Time Ever, the How I Met Your Mother alum has been kept busy by his energetic 4-year-old twins, Harper and Gideon, and husband David Burtka. So far this summer, they have gone berry picking, clamming, and learned how to play miniature golf, which hasn't been without a few lessons, for parents and children, along the way.
"We went to the Children's Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, one of the most fantastic children's museums ever, and they played their first mini golf game," Harris told Yahoo while promoting Goldstar's Smarter Summer program, which encourages parents to pursue activities with their kids that stimulate learning. "It was great except it made me realize that, as a parent, I need to be a little less controlling in things — like the proper way to play mini golf [laughs]."
He continued, "It can be heavy in the rules department. The, 'No, no, do it this way.' The, 'Hey, keep your hands here and your feet here and hit it like this.' But when you're 4 and you have one of those plastic putters, it really doesn't matter what your score is. You're just going to drag the ball straight into the hole regardless."
The family's first clamming excursion was something Harris documented on Instagram — from collection to consumption. "Gideon was the nucleus. He was the business center," explained Harris, whose children, despite a summer vacation out east, are growing up city kids in their stylish Harlem townhouse. "He had a big inner tube tied to him that had a basket. When we found clams, we'd cheer, and he'd slowly chug his way over to us and we'd place the clams in his basket."
Needless to say, not every activity gets the thumbs-up from both children. While picking raspberries and sugar snap peas at a farm, Gideon was really into it. Harper? She wanted to eat and run.
"For experiential activities, it's more about them having the overall experience. So whether they're obsessed with it or indifferent, I think it's important that they both get to have it," he said. "An adventure like going to a farm, walking down the dirt path, seeing 5,000 raspberries bushes, and finding your favorite one was very exciting and visual and awesome for both of them."
And filling. Burtka, who's a chef when he isn't acting, whipped up some treats for the family.
"We had so many raspberries at the end. David was just making raspberry everything," Harris said. "We had raspberry salads, raspberry smoothies, raspberries in Bellinis, raspberry poached eggs, raspberry peanut butter, and raspberry side of beef raspberry. We made raspberry shampoo, which I don't recommend, and raspberry bleach, which makes no sense. I made up all of that except he made a raspberry tart, which of all things we brought over to Ina Garten's house — partly because it was delicious and mostly, so I could say that in an interview because it sounds fancy [laughs]."
Did the Barefoot Contessa approve of his husband's kitchen creation? "Of course!" he exclaimed.
Harris said the family has other activities planned in the city and just outside — including the "Gazillion Bubble Show," a trip to the New Victory Theater, or a Renaissance fair — and he's talking about their plans in hopes that other parents are encouraged to take their kids out for new adventures too.
"My point about all of this is that it's so easy, especially in the summer, to plop kids in front of the TV with a joystick. I think — and David agrees — it's important that parents find things that are actual experiences and fun things that you can do together. Goldstar does that really well," said Harris, who's on the advisory board for the company, which sells live entertainment tickets. "You go to this app — it's super user-friendly — put in the date you want, then you go out there and, for less money than it would cost to buy a new video game, you have a fun experience with your kids."
And even learn a little something for yourself along the way.