When the bell rings on Wednesday, parents in my neighborhood will be greeted by a stampede of exuberant children. While the kids will be scurrying home, some of the parents will likely be walking back a little deflated. Summer can sometimes be a challenge when it comes to keeping the kids busy and even a little productive. However, if you do some research and planning beforehand, you can make sure that your kids have fun and are productive instead of staring at the TV or playing video games ad nauseaum. Here are some ideas to help keep your sanity intact:
1.) Designate specific cleaning days: You may want to pick a specific day of the week when you would like kids to clean their rooms. If you have a larger cleaning project, you may want to warn the kids ahead of time. My daughter seems to do better with cleaning if she is aware ahead of time. If I spring it on her, no dice!
2.) Check with other parents for possible playdates/outings: If you have a rough idea of other kids' schedules, it may be easier to find playmates for your kids.
3.) Familiarize yourself with library schedules: Libraries have an amazing array of activities. If you scan the calendars of local libraries before summer officially starts, you will have an idea of the options available before the kids are out.
4.) Research local festivals at the beginning of the summer: Inevitably, I am disappointed at some point in the summer because we learned about an event after it ended. By checking for local festivals ahead of time, you can develop a schedule based on the ones that interest you. Plus, you will have some ideas in your back pocket for days that you do not know what to do.
5.) Ask your children what they would like to do: Let your kids brainstorm for you. They may have thought of something that you forgot or come up with a creative yet simple option.
6.) Arrange a special visit with grandma and grandpa or an aunt or uncle: While the kids are out from school, it is the perfect time for them to spend some extra time bonding with their favorite extended family members. Some of my favorite memories from childhood involve sleepovers at my Aunt's house and baking with my Grandma.
7.) Look at area museums for free days and special exhibits: Museums are an excellent way to spend a day while letting the kids exercise their minds.
8.) Let the kids plan a meal: Have your kids prepare a meal from start to finish (with a little guidance, as necessary). Kids can research recipes, develop shopping lists, help with shopping, prepare the meal, serve the meal and clean up.
9.) Take up a new sport or practice an old one with your child: A couple of summers ago, I introduced my daughter to tennis. Eager to improve her skills, my daughter encouraged me to take her out to the courts every other week.
10.) Plan some crafts: I always have a stash of crafts. There are easy ones and ones that require a little more planning. That way, I have something to pull out depending upon the situation. In the summer, we like to do some of our crafts en plein air. You can also do something creative like supplying your kids with a bunch of non-recyclable items and craft supplies challenging them to create something.
Summer is such a fun time of year! With some planning, you will be less likely to hear: "There is nothing to do. I'm bored."