It’s midway through the summer. If you’re anything like me, you’re likely digging pretty deep into your parenting bag of tricks to keep your kids entertained. Dig no deeper! Here are three hacks I created (ok, I stole them from my nanny!) to fight boredom and make sure my kids have a fantastic summer.
- Tired of saying no? Leave it to the sticks! Sometimes, the trickiest part of keeping kids entertained is deciding or agreeing on what to do. I let the sticks decide. First, paint popsicle sticks in three different colors: red sticks to represent indoor activities, blue for outdoor activities and yellow for all-day adventures. On one end of each stick, write an activity to correspond with its color category. For instance, “take a family bike ride” for a blue stick, “make cookies” for a red stick and “trip to the zoo” for a yellow stick. Depending on the weather—and also your time, patience, and sanity level—put the appropriate color sticks in your fist and let kids draw one to decide which activity to do that day.
- Camp not on the calendar? Oh, yes it is! If your kids are home for the summer, create your own camps to make the time just as fun as any day or sleep-away camp. Take a calendar and block off weeks where you'll do specific activities, such as soccer or cooking. Place the calendar where kids can see it, so they can look forward to each week's activities throughout the summer, and so you know when you need to work a little DIY magic, find a recipe or pick up supplies.
- Rather than nag kids to read, give them a Reading Challenge they can’t refuse. Together with your kids, set a goal to read a prescribed number of chapters, books or pages by the end of summer. Get them psyched and onboard with less than subtle encouragement… and really good bribery. Say, “I bet we can read 60 chapters by the end of the summer!” And promise a reward—like a trip to the water park—when they get halfway to their goal, and an even bigger celebration when the goal is accomplished. Have them record their progress and cheer them on to keep them on track. Parenting to-do: fight summer brain drain. Check!
These little tricks will help my three boys and I get the most out of summer before it’s time to wrangle ourselves back into the routine and demands of a new school year. Hope they work for you, too!