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Easy summer activities to keep kids busy while parents work

CHILDREN PLAYING
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Here are some tried-and-true summer activity suggestions, from one mom to another.

As my 12-year-old constantly reminds me, there are only three more weeks of school left until summer vacation.

This is my literal reaction every time she tells me. On the one hand, I love my kids and I hate homework, so summer is great. On the other hand, I still have to work full-time while they’re home. With me. All. Day. Long. 

So in the spirit of self-preservation, I’ve been collecting some ideas for easy, low-or-no-overhead summer activities that I can have ready and waiting for that first inevitable 7 a.m. whine of “Mommy, I’m bored.” And because I know many of my fellow mamas are about to be in the same boat, I’m going to share a few from this post goldmine of 100 fun family activities, and then add a few of my own:

  1. Fly a kite.
    Flying Kite
    Shutterstock
  2. Run in the yard. Kickball, wiffleball, Frisbee, and the tag will keep you moving.
  3. Visit a local farmers market. And feast on the fruits and veggies of the season.
  4. Create art with beach items. Check out these seashell crafts.
  5. Have breakfast in bed. Take turns being the server and the served.
  6. Play with clay. Then bake your creations to make them permanent.
  7. Make play dough creations. Then rip them up and do it again.
    Shutterstock/George Burba
  8. Make paper airplanes. See whose goes the farthest.
  9. Join a summer reading club. Parents can list all their books read over the summer too, but I doubt you’ll get a prize.
  10. Keep a sketch diary.
  11. Write in a journal. At the end of the summer share selections with each other about the highlights of the season.
  12. Teach the kids to skip stones.

Ah, stone skipping. My granddaddy used to take us for long walks on summer Sundays and we’d stop and work on our stone-skipping skills for hours. I never quite got the hang of it, but those are still some of my favorite memories.

Some other plans I have for the summer are to assign my kids days to make dinner. I know it sounds insane and ambitious, but I’m not talking four-course-meals here; when it’s the 5-year-old’s turn, I fully expect that we’ll be eating dubiously crafted PB&Js. But we’ll eat them nonetheless. And here’s the kicker: the older kids are an in charge of supervising and assisting when it’s the younger ones’ turn to cook.

This is twofold brilliance: 1, it frees up my afternoons to focus on work while keeping the kids busy, and 2, it helps foster independence and hopefully lead to more dinnertime initiative year-round. I know it will take a few weeks of much mom intervention to get this plan off the ground, but summer is long, y’all. That’s a price I’m willing to pay.

I’m also going to invest in some card game classics (SkipBo, anyone?), puzzles, craft supplies, and most importantly, I’m getting us a library card.

© kikovic / Shutterstock

Don’t gasp in horror — we’ve only been back in Texas for a few months, and library cards haven’t been high on my list of priorities. But with oodles of free time to fill in the very near future, they’re suddenly VERY HIGH on that priority list. Next week, library card or bust.

Since it takes a village, give me some of your best summer activity ideas that free up Mom’s time but keep the littles busy in the comment section. Sharing is caring!

Read more: Old-fashioned, creative, and offbeat summer activities to help your kids beat boredom

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