With my kids out of school, I’ve been trying my best to keep them busy (and active!). Easier said than done when you work from home. Because the girls go to an all year round school, they get a couple weeks off – the last week of June and the first week of July – before their new school year starts. So, I try my best to keep them home (vs. a day camp) so they get a little bit of a breather.
I’ll be the first to admit, I absolutely allow my kids to get their screen time in. Again, they’re in school 8 hours a day most days out of the year and watching some Sesame Street, Disney Junior or children’s programming on Amazon Prime is a healthy balance in my eyes. Because they’re 4 and 1, the challenge has been finding programming they both enjoy and engage with at the same time.
Worse case scenario, I let the 4 year old have up to 60 minutes on YouTube Kids (I love their timer feature!) while the one year old watches whatever she likes on TV. It makes for some great uninterrupted time for me to knock out emails or quick phone calls and then I can give them my attention for the remainder of the day.
A couple of weeks ago, I went out with some girlfriends from my church and we discussed how they kept their kids busy. One friend swears by day camp, while the other two get very creative to keep their kids active. (One friend said she makes up obstacle courses for her kids and I was so impressed by her creativity!)
While I’m not one to create (or build) an obstacle course for my kids, I do like to have a soft itinerary planned out for peace of mind, ensuring they do something and carving out a little time for myself to work. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but there are a few things that have worked really well for me. Here are 4 ways I keep my kids busy during the summer (not including screen time!).
This one seems like a no brainer, but sometimes it isn’t what we first think of. (Especially if you don’t have a pool yourself.) We don’t have a pool or live in a neighborhood that does, but I have friends and family that do. I take advantage of asking family if it’s ok to bring the girls by the pool and it almost always is. I like to take them in the morning or evening when the sun is low and the heat is bearable. I slather them down in SPF, get their pool toys and accessories plus a slew of snacks and we hang out by the pool for a couple of hours. By then, my 4 year old has used up most of her energy and my 1 year old is ready to nap or for something new.
We have an awesome children’s museum here in Atlanta. Last Christmas, Chris bought us an annual membership so we could take the girls anytime we wanted to visit. It honestly has served us well. There’s usually some pretty fun exhibits and because of the guest passes, we can always bring family and friends along. To me, this is another activity that works perfectly within that 1-2 hour window.
ARTS, CRAFTS & EXPERIMENTS
Kids are very hands on, so getting them involved in arts, crafts or experiments is usually a hit. Pinterest has so many great ideas, so I usually plan my experiment or arts & crafts day in advance so I can plan set up + clean up carefully and buy/order all the right materials which allows for a fairly stress free experience. Having your clean up plan beforehand is a major key. The girls really get into it if they have to dress up – cue aprons, safety goggles or lab jackets – because it really adds to the experience. It also makes for some great home photos and videos to send to grandparents and family.
Between school, church and extracurricular activities, our kids have quite the group of friends. I try my best to connect with other moms and there’s usually a “let’s the kids together for a playdate” exchange at some point. Summer is the best time to take advantage of that. Most people are looking for something for their kids to do and running around with other kids usually works. Even if you don’t feel comfortable hosting it at your home, you can do something low key like meeting at a local park or fast food restaurant and let the kids enjoy. The kids get to use up all their energy and talking with other moms and dads allows the time to pass fast.
When your kids are on break what do you do to keep your kids busy in the summer?