Brace yourself: summer is coming. No doubt you’ve been counting down to this day just as passionately as the kids have. But in your haste to rejoice you’ve forgotten one small detail. You now have to entertain them for three. Straight. Months. First, drink a cup—or a pot—of coffee and find your Zen. Because we have the easiest ways to keep those kids from uttering the most dreaded phrase, “We’re bored!” Keep sipping that macchiato; we’ve got you covered.
Step 1: Supplies
For starters, you know the Dollar Store. That beacon of saving grace with cheap plastic toys sturdy enough to last just one summer. That’s all you need, just one summer. This summer. So go there. Grab those plastic shovels, buckets, water balloons, squirt guns, and the fruit drinks and popsicles for every “I need a snack!” moment. Step one: check!
Step 2: Schedule
Then, consider a simple schedule to start your day before all of the fun and messy festivities begin. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about elaborate parent-of-the-year Pinterest projects. Just a few things to save you on your own chore time. But first, keep drinking that coffee, then feast your eyes on easy household tasks the kids will seriously love to participate in.
- The toys. Oh, the mountains of toys. Throw those toys into empty laundry baskets, call it a contest, a competition, a free for all basketball game; whatever gets them motivated. Once the toys are stacked in their baskets, they can carry them to their respective rooms to be put away, but you may need to join in for this part.
- It’s never too early to find your passion, even for the kids. No one is going to volunteer to clean the toilets, but someone might truly enjoy running a vacuum, or heaving a hefty bagful of trash into the trash bin. Whatever it is that your kid can do without complaining, encourage it. They’ll love the praise and recognition, and well, you’ll love not having to take out the trash.
- The marble jar. The perfect, solution to tracking good deeds without breaking the bank or hiding your wallet from stealthy kids. Good deeds, kind words, acts of kindness, chores that are completed unasked, anything you decide can earn a marble into each child’s jar. And then you, trade master, get to decide what the currency exchange is. A marble can equal a quarter, five marbles a night out for ice cream, 10 marbles inviting a friend over to play. The power is in your hands!
- And never forget strength in numbers. Collaborate with your neighborhood parents about sharing playdates. Have each parent pick a day they wouldn’t mind entertaining a few kids for a couple hours. The rest of the parents can sip coffee and peacefully get some work done, and you’ll enjoy it so much you won’t even mind when it’s your turn to host.
Step 3: Savor
Of course, there’s a lot of mud, water, sweat, and late nights that go into summer fun. Don’t forget to throw all the scheduling out the window every now and then. Give the kids a little freedom to roll in the muck, catch lightning bugs, and lay on a blanket under the stars. And let nostalgia take over; you’ll no doubt enjoy it too.