Summer has reached the Wade house! Boy, we really limped and crawled our way through those final few weeks of the school year. Last Wednesday I had nothing to pack in my son’s lunch except almonds and potato chips. His Highness had to make an emergency mercy trip to the grocery store, then dash to the school to add a few more items to his lunchbox.
Somehow, some way, I got my manuscript turned in on schedule and the kids all navigated their year-end events and assignments. We’re DONE with homework and alarm clocks for the next two months. DONE! And I couldn’t be happier.
On the other hand, I’ve been a mother long enough to know that summer comes with its own set of challenges. Namely, the challenge of having kids underfoot constantly. Kids eat and drink a lot. They trail mess like raccoons trail their tails. They complain. They want to be entertained. They fuss and fight with each another.
So I asked my readers for their best summertime survival tips, plus added a few of my own. Here they are…
1. Use the Library. Most library systems have summer reading programs that offer prizes and incentives to children. Many also provide story times, or children’s programs (like singers, magicians, puppeteers), or crafts. Kids can check out and bring home stacks of books, DVDs, and books on tape. FREE!
2. Sleep Late. At our house the person who sleeps the latest is the ‘Sleeping Champion’ for the day. When they walk into the living room, they receive applause and congratulations. This positive reinforcement has encouraged all the kids to sleep later. Sleeping in is, hands down, my favorite part of summer. My kids know that daddy can handle whatever needs handling before 8:30 on summer mornings.
3. Membership to a community pool = worth the cost.
4. Time with cousins. My kids are crazy about their cousins. One of my sisters lives a 5 hour drive from us. The other a 3 hour plane flight. But I make the effort to travel to see them or host them in my home every summer so that my kids can have days and days to run with their cousins.
5. FOB time each day. One of my readers came up with the term FOB time which stands for ‘feet on bed’ time. Several moms I know, including her, expect their kids to spend a part of every day having quiet time, without the involvement of an electronic screen.
6. Vacation Bible School.
7. Crafts. Kids love ’em. Pinterest, of course, is chock full of great craft ideas for the over-achievers among us. I even have a ‘Things to do With Kids’ board, though I’ve yet to attempt any of the cute ideas assembled there. My best crafting idea came to me courtesy of my friend and fellow author Courtney Walsh. She’s put together an online art camp for kids 5 and up! The class includes five videos of Courtney teaching the five projects to the kids step by step. Moms only have to provide the items on the supply list! Plus, your child or grandchild or little nephew can watch the sessions whenever they want. You could save them for rainy days or do them all in one week. (Early registration price is $22, then it’ll go up to $28 after June 17). For more details, go here.
8. Cheap movies/bowling/ice skating. Many theaters and amusement spots offer summertime deals certain days of the week.
9. Resign as Kid Entertainer. Encourage kids to learn the skill of using their imagination and entertaining themselves! Lisa told me that she has her kids, “make a list of 10 things they enjoy doing. At least 5 of those things need to be independent activities! The first time they tell me, ‘I’m bored’ I send them to the list to pick out an activity. The second time they say it in the same day, I have a job for them to do. Sure cut down on those dreaded words!”
10. Picnics. Same food from the pantry. New location. Way more fun.
11. A fridge full of popsicles and a shelf stocked with brownie mix and lemonade mix for when friends come over to play.
12. Chore Assignments. Vonda said, “Each kid has a daily checklist here, which I put in a dollar store picture frame to use with a dry erase marker for re-use. Quiet time, helping with mowing, weeding, laundry, cleaning room are all on there, and sometimes sports and instrument practice. When we all pitch in, we can all have more fun.” One of my friends has two daughters, ages 12 and 16. She bought two ‘baking for teens’ cookbooks and has made it her goal have her girls bake one dish per week this summer.
What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear your advice, tips, and/or summertime memories!