Well, the school year is almost over and whether you’re the type of mom who loves the summer months (no schedules!) or the kind of mom who can’t wait for school to start again, summer does present certain challenges when it comes to keeping your kids busy without losing your mind. Here are some ideas to help keep both you and your kids happy this summer:
- When I was young, there was a mom in the neighborhood who had a brilliant idea to get summer started off on the right foot. On the last day of school, she invited all the neighbor kids to her house. She supplied the cupcakes and outdoor toys (Frisbees, water balloons, etc.) and let us loose in her backyard. And, somehow that simple affair created a sense of camaraderie between all of us kids that lasted all summer. So smart of her.
- Blogger Kristina says: “At the beginning of each week, identify an outing you’d like to do and schedule it for a certain day. You can still be spontaneous and flexible, but having at least a semblance of a plan will prevent the summer from slipping away before you do the things you wanted to do.” (I love seeing all the things she does with her kids on her social media pages!).
- When I was raising my kids, our house was often the meeting place for the neighborhood gang. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. So, at the beginning of every summer, I taught all the kids this simple rule: When the living room blinds were closed, that meant we were not available and they weren’t to knock or ring the doorbell. When the blinds were open, they could knock or ring away. It worked like a charm. No more cranky kids woken up from naps, no more crabby mom who needed some quiet time!
- If you’re blessed to have an ice cream truck come through your neighborhood on a regular basis, keep a money jar for just that purpose. Ignore the fact that the ones from the truck cost twice as much as the ones from the store. Buying from the ice cream man (or woman) is a magical experience for a child.
- Having said that, my kids also loved making their own popsicles. Here are some recipes from Stephanie and I to get you started: Homemade Popsicles from Fresh Ingredients; 7 Simple Homemade Popsicles
- Keep a beach/picnic bag in your trunk for impromptu outings. You never know when the urge to jump in the lake will hit. Ideas to pack: an old blanket and towels, dollar store sunglasses, sunscreen, swimsuits, individual bags of snacks and juice boxes.
- Let your kids plant their own garden. It can be as simple as a pot with a few seeds in it or as fancy as their own raised bed. Watching plants grow is a magical experience for a child, and watering and weeding teaches responsibility. Bonus: they’re more apt to eat the veggies they’ve grown themselves.
- I’m all for kids making their own fun. But, it’s also fun to create a little magic for them as well. Make an easy fort by spreading a large comforter over the dining room table. Put pillows and sleeping bags underneath and let them read books and eat snacks. At different times, we also provided hammocks, porch swings and playhouses that became popular spots for the kids on our street. One year, we had a huge pile of dirt delivered (It was actually for a project). It was such a hit with the neighborhood gang that we left it there until the Fall. The simplest things will supply memories your kids will cherish forever.
- Create a family book club. Make frequent trips to the library (they have their own summer book programs if you’d rather). Supply little prizes for every so many books read.
- And finally, ALWAYS employ this equation: Saying, “I’m bored” = chores. Every time. No exceptions. Your kids will learn to keep themselves happy very quickly!
Good luck, moms! I hope these ideas help. And, please share your summer ideas with us in the comments section.