As much as we moms long for the summer season, a lull from hectic schedules, a respite from nightly homework, a nice pause from dragging the kids out of bed each morning, there’s another part of us that completely dreads the upcoming lazy, hazy days. After the initial excitement wears off, along with the rising temperatures, summer break also brings those two dreaded words that spill from our kids’ mouths like sand from a bucket… “I’m bored.”
If the idea of seeing your child on the couch with a remote control in his hand or a computer in her lap for the next ten weeks makes you sweat, read on for some hot ideas to keep your summer from burning out.
Put some purpose in your pause. During the school year, our To-Do lists usually revolve around Must-Do’s. But summertime is the perfect time for our Should-Do’s. Make it a goal with your children to regularly help others. Turn it into a never-miss event by calling it Ministry Monday or Think-About-Someone-Else Thursday!
- Write letters to troops to let them know you’re praying for them and their families.
- Collect canned goods and drop them at a local food pantry.
- Deliver sweets to a retirement home, along with pictures and paintings to brighten a senior’s day.
- Offer to take a friend’s dog for a walk or help put away an elderly neighbor’s groceries. The abundance of free time in the summer allows a great opportunity to teach our kids how to be a blessing to others.
Sharpen school skills… secretly. Every teacher will implore you (myself included) not to allow two and half months to roll by without refreshing, reviewing and even expanding on the knowledge children have recently acquired. Math worksheets and reading packets are fine, but involve them in even more learning by disguising it as fun!
- Ask your child to summarize a favorite book by writing it as a play, then act it out.
- Go on a Number Hunt each day… how many circles are in the house? How many red things are outside? How many flat things can you find?
- Practice letters or review spelling words by writing them in sand, shaving cream, pudding or rice.
- Do math problems outside with sidewalk chalk or washable soap. Shhh… don’t tell them they’re doing schoolwork!
Make a Bored Book. A surefire cause of the summer doldrums is a lack of ideas. By the beginning of July most moms are fresh out of new options to offer. So take some time in June helping your kids create their very own personalized “Bored Book.”
- Brainstorm suggestions and research online for some favorite pastimes… building a card house, pulling out the play-dough, reading a book, calling Grandma, cutting out paper dolls, watching a video, playing catch, tossing a Frisbee, running through sprinklers, making ice tray popsicles, jumping rope, making a hopscotch grid, blowing bubbles…
- Now illustrate a page for each activity. Don’t forget a cover and a title page for your book. If siblings or pals can’t agree on what to do, take turns choosing one at at time, then set the timer for thirty minutes. Everyone wins!
Don’t put it away! Why not rearrange things, just for a while? Summer is all about a break from strict schedules and school rules. It’s a perfect opportunity to let loose at home as well. While I’m not suggesting complete pandemonium, I am encouraging making activities readily available in order to keep kids’ choices in plain view.
- Set up a card table for ongoing jigsaw puzzles; don’t take it down till September.
- Let the kids make a Summer Reading Fort in one of their rooms, filled with beloved old books and new books from the library each week.
- Create an art space that makes markers, paper, glue and craft supplies continuously accessible.
- Fill a laundry basket with board and card games and keep the basket in the family room or kitchen, not tucked away in a closet. It may seem more cluttered than you’re used to, but it’s only for a season!
Just like the occasional summer storm, the boredom blues will inevitably pass through your home a few times during the upcoming months. Hopefully these ideas will keep your kids off the couch and engaged in playtime, education, friends and fun. Got any other tried and true ways for us moms to keep the kids engaged? Share them here!
Kathryn O’Brien has been published in numerous parenting and teaching magazines, and is a member of the writing team for HomeFront Magazine. An educator for over twenty years, as a former elementary school teacher & current Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Kathryn continues to write on education and family topics. She is an award-winning author of five children’s books, including the Sit for a Bit series (Tyndale) and I’d Be Your Princess, winner of the ECPA Christian Book Award (Best Picture Book). See her most recent articles and blog posts at www.kathobrien.com