Every mom is looking for some realistic summer hacks when the end of the school year draws near. Because, it’s every mom’s most beloved-hated time: summer break! Summer break brings welcome relief from the daily grind of school though at least.
No more screaming like a banshee, “You’re going to miss the bus!”
No more signing homework folders.
No more homework at all, actually.
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No more spirit days, show-and-tell, PTA meetings, classroom newsletters, sports practices, band performances, school play rehearsals, yadda yadda yadda.
But the thrill of free time is often short-lived for parents, coming to a screeching halt the second you hear your precious offspring mutter those two awful words, “I’m borrrrrrrrrred.”
To be clear, it’s not your job to provide nonstop entertainment for your kids, especially if they are at an age of reasonable self-sufficiency.
Still, short of signing off entirely and going full 1970s-summer (aka “See you kids at dark. Mama’s drinking Tab and watching her programs.”) how can you keep summer both fun and manageable?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are some summer hacks or tips and tricks you can “play” with your kids to keep them entertained.
If your kids are under ten, play hide-and-seek with them. When you’re “it” (always volunteer to be it), use the time you’re “seeking” to check your email, throw in a load of laundry, maybe even have yourself a snack. Then, right when it seems you may have pushed this ruse a little too far, you miraculously find them! Works every time.
Play pretend (but not the awful kind)
I love my children, but I hate playing pretend. It is the actual worst… except when it’s not. Here are a few fantastic pretend games I love playing:
Mommy is sick
I am the patient and I desperately require rest. My children must care for me by bringing me things, singing me songs, and otherwise doing my bidding as I lie on my couch-bed. Look at me, fostering creativity, imagination, and whatever else while I lie down. I am the best mom.
My kids have rediscovered the Transformers movie from the 1980s. Spoiler alert: Optimus Prime dies and the other Transformers come to mourn him. My kids like to reenact this scene with me as Optimus Prime and I have never been so happy in my life (pro tip: Spotify even has the song, “Death of Prime” available, if like mine, your kids insist on the scene being accurate–well, you know, aside from the fact that you’re not actually a robot-in-disguise).
The Floor Is Lava
Your children will use this as an opportunity to leap from couch cushion to blanket to ottoman. You, being the resourceful adult, can use this as an opportunity to sit safely in your chair. The floor is lava, after all.
Other helpful variations may include The-kitchen-where-I’m-cooking-dinner Is Lava, Mommy’s-home-office-where-she-is-working Is Lava, The-room-where-baby-is-napping Is Lava — essentially, anywhere you need your children to avoid.
Family Fight Club
Before you panic and start looking up the number for Child Protective Services, this is not about you setting up an actual fight club, but rather you embracing your reality.
If you’re parenting siblings, fighting’s going to happen. This is especially true if you’re raising boys, but I’ve known plenty of sisters who can throw-down as well.
As the movie clearly explained, the first rule of Fight Club is “You do not talk about Fight Club.” Basically, if your kids are going to insist on lightsaber-battling, NERF-waring, couch-wrestling, or any other foolish activity that’s guaranteed to result in injury, despite your eleventy-million warnings, then they must observe Rule #1 and not talk to you about it.
Exceptions can be made at your discretion and will typically require blood.
Add more kids (Seriously. No, I’m not insane.)
Subtraction-by-addition is a real thing when it comes to entertaining kids. I don’t know why, but adding your kid’s friend to the mix (assuming this friend isn’t a disobedient nightmare) actually makes your life easier.
They play with one another and typically only involve you if they need a snack. You have essentially outsourced your children’s entertainment for the cost of some oreos and goldfish (plus a big mess, but that was going to happen anyway).
Hoist your problems on an unsuspecting middle-schooler
Camps are expensive, nannies cost a fortune, and even your local high-schooler requires you to fork over some heavy cash (especially if you have more than one kid). Sometimes the best babysitting bang-for-your buck comes from kids who aren’t old enough to truly babysit.
If there’s a young teen or pre-teen in your neighborhood who is kind and responsible, but a little too young to be left in charge alone, hire them to do whatever you dislike most with your kids while you’re still home (a “mother’s helper”).
Don’t like “playing house”? (Does anyone?)
Hate Pokémon? (Obviously!)
Sick of reading “The Wonky Donky” 400 times per day? (Of course!)
Pay a little helper to come do those things while you get some work done (or watch Netflix–no judgment here).
Summer doesn’t have to cost your sanity
This list should keep you covered through late July. Once August rolls around, there is no more summer “entertainment.” At that point, it’s survival of the fittest and every man, woman, and child for themselves until schools start back up again.
Good luck and Godspeed.