Summer vacation has always been a challenge for me since I was a school kid myself. It’s long, it’s boring, all the friends disappear and I found myself sinking into endless reading (at that time the internet was still somewhere in the horizon line). Walking under the sun was not tempting enough, so most of my summer days were self-exploration journeys between the walls of my room (lucky me, I had my own room).
Now, with my growing kids, I find myself in a similar perplexity, except that my time is strictly structured and there are much fewer opportunities for quiet self-exploration. Rather it’s a noisy exploration of everything in and around the house, sweaty bike trips, ice-cream absorption and a carousel of events I do not necessarily approve but they still take place.
So, how to survive the 2 months of heat, moist, bored kids, sounds of cartoons and the general feeling of wasted time? Is there a way to turn at least part of that time into productive being? My answer is – yes, but! First, you have to realize, that it cannot be perfect and some of the days will still be long, boring, annoying and so unbearably hot that all you will be able to do is watch and envy the polar bears. But look at the global picture and find the perfect angle under the air conditioner. Don’t strive to perfection or you will be doomed to failure.
Tip #1: make a list of venues for good and bad weather
huge big list of all the nearby places you can go with kids in good and bad weather. Playrooms, trampolines, parks, playgrounds, forests, cinema, swimming pools, lakes where you can feed bears swans etc., etc. I’m sure you can find at least 10-15 venues. There are some great closed playrooms with excellent wi-fi where you can work or have a cup of something while thinking on the next project. Open spaces like forests, parks and playgrounds are great for kids but they also mean you will not be able to steal a minute for yourself (which is good sometimes, too).
Tip #2: enroll kids for daily summer camps
An excellent but costly solution for kids from 6 to 12 years old. From 12 and on there are great vacation stay camps. What I like most about camps is, that the child comes home exhausted, happy and dirty. Putting them in the bathtub afterward will grant you another quiet hour. What I like less about camps is, that if you have another smaller child, whom you still don’t want to send into unknown social environment, this smaller child will provide you a solo entertainment during the entire day. When two or three kids are at home together they get along better (even if they fight), rather than you staying at home with the youngest one(s) alone. This is based on own experiment and is subject to an argument.
Tip #3: invite your children’s friends
This is not something you can use on a daily basis, but keeping one day in a week busy inviting your kids’ friends for a sleepover or just for a play date at home can be a good option. The pros are obvious: kids play, destroy the house in an unusual way and you can maybe have some relatively quiet time (depending on the size of your house/apartment). The cons are obvious as well: mess, extra responsibilities (kids can break their jaws, get cut, get hurt – you are in charge).
Tip#4: make them clean – it’s soap opera time!
I know it might sound boring, but in fact, kids love to clean. Give them sponges, liquid soap (make sure small kids do not have access to chemicals), warm water and – voila! Cleaning all kinds of surfaces – windows, tables, kitchen marbles; once they start you won’t be able to make them stop. My kids end up making a “soap pool” in the bathroom or even on the floor (sounds very weird but they like “skating” on it). To avoid dried soap stains and other unpleasant signs of “cleaning” activity, my preference usually lies in the bathroom area, but it’s definitely not a rule of thumb.
Tip #5: throwing away stuff. Out, out brief candle!
There are lots of things in our house we don’t really need. There are tons of things we keep just in case but have never used and never will. Summer boredom is a great time to actively throw these things away together with your kids (don’t throw the kids away, at least I didn’t say that). So, if your little ones are 4 years and older they are legit for this creative assignment. Each child gets a sac and a task, for example: find 10 things in your room/play area that you don’t need. You can take the kitchen or the living room, and then you all meet after 10-15 minutes to see what surprises you have in your bags. It is amazing how we never pay attention at the junk we keep, but once the mission is set your mind works clearly: in, out, in, out etc.
These are, so far, my creative recipes. I’m sure there are a lot more ways to entertain your offspring but I’ve listed only those I have personally tested on my flesh and blood. Any more ideas?