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Keep Your Kids Busy (And Yourself Happy) This Summer
By: Aesha Adams-Roberts
Summer is almost here!  If you have kids that means one of two things:  they are counting down the days until school is out. . . and you are counting down the days when school will resume!  As one mommy said:  "Today was my daughter's last day of school. I had to hold back tears. Not because she's going to middle school next year, but because she will talk this entire summer away! I love her though, lol!"
As a mom of two–a 3 year old girl and a 5 month old boy–I can relate. When I first left my full time career as a college professor to stay at home with our daughter, I was overwhelmed. What am I supposed to do with her every day?  How will I keep my sanity?! Once I began working from home, the challenges increased. How can I keep my busy kids busy so I can get stuff done? 
Can I let you in on a little secret? Let's talk mom to mom.  The problem of "what to do with these kids"–whether it's for three months in the summer or seven days a week as a mom–has less to do with finding activities to keep kids entertained, and more to do with the way we've been programmed to think about our family life. I've talked a little bit about the myth of "work/life balance" in another article (click here if you missed it); but at issue here is the idea that you have to be away from your kids in order to be happy or to get things done.  This line of thinking makes us separate our lives into "family time" vs "work time" vs "me-time" etc., and causes resentment and frustration when things don't balance out nicely.  
It's possible to be a happy mommy even when your kids are at home with you! I'm going to share some of my favorite activities that you can use to keep your kids busy this summer so you can stay happy.  (You can easily adapt these according to the ages and interests of your children).  

1) Water:

Kids love to play in water–just try keeping a baby away from the toilet or a toddler from a sink.  Instead of banning them from the bathroom, create a time and space for them to splish and splash! 
Here are some fun ideas for water play:
  • Grab an old toothbrush, a plastic bowl, some dish soap, towels, and old coins and have them clean and shine the coins.  They'll love it!  
  • Fill a plastic tub with water and grab some toys of various sizes and weights.  Ask your child which toys they think will float or sink and have them test it out!
  • Create a "car wash" by letting your little one wash his toy cars.
  • Encourage pretend play by letting your kids wash and dress their baby dolls. 
  • Fill a spray bottle with water and vinegar and let your child wash the windows (this kept my daughter busy for almost an hour!)
  • If you don't own a kiddie pool, grab a Rubbermaid container, fill it with water, and let your little one splash around


2) Busy bags and busy boxes

What are busy bags and busy boxes? They are freezer bags and plastic bins you fill with an activity to keep your kids busy.  I recently discovered the idea on Pinterest and since then have created several bags and boxes for my 3 year old.  The bags are great to take along on errands, road trips, plane rides, and any other place kids get bored and unruly quickly.  The boxes can be used for quiet time or when you need to get stuff done.  
Busy bags and boxes ideas:
  • Sensory box filled with dry beans or rice. Add in toys like matchbox cars and dump trucks for racing and dumping or measuring cups and spoons for scooping and pouring! 
  • Arts& crafts materials
  • Coloring pages and crayons
  • Board books
  • Card games
  • Beads for counting and making jewelry
3)  Pretend Play
Use items around your house to encourage your kids to use their imagination:
  • Create a tent using an old sheet over the table. Give your kids a flashlight and let them "camp out" all day long!
  • Turn your house into an airport. Use a cardboard box as an airplane, arrange chairs for the gate seating area and let your kids do the rest. 
Keep your kids busy and yourself happy and let's create some fun memories this summer.
Do you have a favorite way to keep your kids busy this summer?  Please share below!