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Summer Boredom Hacks For Must-Have Parents

Summer fun activities

It's tempting right now, in these last days of the school year, to long for summer.

The days of not having to yell, "Get your homework folder off of the dog!"  Or, "Yes, your shoes have to match!" And, "You can't wear that with your head through the armhole!" are all sounding pretty good right now.

I'm eager for mornings that don't start with a Ford plant-style assembly line of bread, peanut butter and grape jelly (because that's what everyone is having for lunch and for breakfast at the end of the school year).

I get downright poetic thinking about not spending hours every day idling in the drop off and pick up lines and not running my own version of the Uber driving service, shuttling kids from lessons to appointments to practices.

But as a summer veteran, I know that once the novelty of no homework has worn off, I'll be smack-dab in the dog days, a phrase I think refers to days when it is so oppressively hot outside that the dog decides he'll just hold it.

These are days when experience tells me that I'll shoo the kids outside to play, baiting them with sprinklers and slip n' slides, only to have them standing at the back door minutes later, wet faces pressed against the glass, begging to come back in because they're bored. 

By the end of the summer, I think even Carol Brady and Donna Reed were ready to burn their bras and run off to an artists colony in New Mexico to find themselves -- or at least to find some quiet.

Considering that for MHPs summer might also mean something extra fun like moving cross country or a spouse who is deployed, and it's a wonder that no one is selling Summer Emergency Kits for parents. My version would be stocked with red wine, earplugs and a season's worth of "Love it or List It."

So what do you do when you're stuck with kids all day, every day, with no breaks in sight until September? Particularly if you're not especially crafty, don't really look forward to a third (or 30th) tea party and really are not in the mood to be shot with Nerf bullets -- again?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Bribery. It works. It always has, it always will.

When there's nothing else to do, pay your kids to do chores. As my really awful boss at Bonanza Steakhouse used to say, "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean."

Pass out the Magic Erasers, promise payment in form of cents and low dollars, and get those baseboards cleaned.

Bonus: Any other ideas you suggest will sound amazing to the kids after you've suggested this one.

  • Strap them into the car.

Take the kids somewhere fun -- the zoo, a park, a swimming pool, a splash pad, the library, the mall, a movie theater. This is super easy for military families because we're probably new to the area and there are lots of places left for us to explore.

Warning: Doing something super fun every day will wear you out (if not your kids), so aim for doing these things just two or three days a week.

Talking about it during the days before can be a powerful motivator to keep kids from melting down. But let's be honest, this is really just a different form of bribery. And I'm OK with that.

  1. More bribery. Honestly, bribery is all I've got. You do you, Rebekah. The goal is to get through the summer, try to enjoy it and hopefully make some good memories for the kids along the way.
  2.  If that means buying a lot of popsicles, well -- there are some that have only 15 calories.

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Rebekah Sanderlin Military Parenting

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Contributor

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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