Oh Summer, Here We Are Again!

Updated on June 11, 2014
S.A. asks from Chicago, IL
22 answers

I am one of those moms who doesn't enjoy having the kids off all summer. Yes, I know, I'm terrible...But at least I'm honest. I have people telling me to cherish these days yadda..yadda...yadda.., but it's really hard to cherish constant complaints of boredom, whining, and fighting. The long summer days are not quality time in the least because I'm constantly having to discipline and get no enjoyment out of it whatsoever! It's also very difficult to find free or cheap activities that appeal to kids with a big age range. My oldest is 12, my youngest is 4. My little one would go to the park all day every day, but my oldest only wants to be there if there are kids her age which is almost never!

I decided to start a jelly bean jar so that the kids could earn fun outings. They earn jelly beans each day and if they have enough in the jar by the morning of the planned outing, they get to go! They thought it was a grand idea at first, but the novelty has worn off after just 3 days and they are track to NOT earn their first fun outing.

The jelly bean jar is for larger, more expensive outings. Outside of that, I plan to take them to the library a lot, the nature sanctuary, the pool etc... We were going to go to the library this afternoon, but they were fighting a lot right before we were about to leave and my oldest was being extremely disrespectful so I told them to forget it. Now we're home all day and I feel like I punished myself more than them because they've been terrible.

Would you still have taken your kids despite the behavior? I always feel like that would be rewarding bad behavior. I only do it if it's a scheduled playdate with another child, or a birthday party where you would be letting other people down if you didn't go. But if it's just us and they're not behaving, I usually cancel our plans and we stay home.

I know a big factor in the poor behavior is boredom. Especially with my oldest. There are only 2 girls her age in the neighborhood and neither are home in the summer much. Most of her friends from school have moms who work, so they're not available. I don't know what to do with her in the summer. She's doing a basketball camp for two weeks, but outside of that, I don't have anything else scheduled. Everything is $100 a week and we're on a tight budget. I wish I had the money to send her to camps all summer!

My mom promised she would take the kids a lot this summer, but here it's the first week and she's decided to go visit my grandmother in Michigan. Gah!

I wish summer was like it was when I was a kid. When I was her age, we were outside all day entertaining ourselves. My mom would let my brother and I walk to the local pool by ourselves and we did it almost every day. She had it made!

For anyone that has tweens, preschoolers, and and everything in-between, how do you keep all of your kids happy during the summer. I am already ready to cry and it has barely even started!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of the great advice so far! I would love to be able to drop her off at the pool, but I would worry too much. Same with letting her ride her bike alone. She does quick loops around the neighborhood, but has to be with a friend for longer rides. I definitely don't believe things are as safe today as when I was a kid. I follow the better safe than sorry philosophy.

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answers from Chicago on

I too dread summer. My girls quickly get bored. Especially when the weather is so cold as it is here in Chicago. It makes going to the pool difficult. For us we have a pool pass and we may go there everyday - when it warms up. Both daughters are in summer school that is put on by the public schools. It's cheaper than the programs at the local park dist. But that is only 3-4 weeks. The rest of the time it will be day trips and maybe me teaching them to sew? My older daughter (15) knits and that keeps her busy. She also has a circular loom to make hats and my 12 YO has mastered that. One of my daughters also cleaned out her closet and discovered toys and crafts that she had yet to open. My daughters bickered constantly last summer so I am hoping that this summer won't be the same. My daughters would be happy to have year-around school. They are bored and since so many kids are sent away for the summer in the Chicago area there aren't as many kids around. Good-luck!

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answers from Austin on

Your posts shows that you live in Chicago, so I am guessing the area of Chicago.

Here are some links all I did was Google, Free things to do in Chicago with kids.




Let me tell you. I was raised with a mom that never allowed us to purchase food away from home. I pretty much followed this routine with our daughter. She was really good about making sure the supplies were refilled.

We always had a cooler in the back seat or trunk. Filled with tea or lemonade (no sodas, "too expensive"). We also had fresh fruit in there and sandwiches,

We had a canvas bag with snacks. Sun screen( now that needs to be kept in the cooler in a zipcloc) . We had sun hats, towels, swim shoes, and change of clothes.

By the age of 12 I was actually taking care of my sister and 2 of our boy cousins, 5 days a week. I had a schedule. They played outside in the morning. We had lunch (we made up a weekly menu) , we rested or watched some tv, in the afternoon we went swimming or walked to the library. Came home and played again.

We were responsible for keeping the house cleaned. And I had chores. Cleaning the bathroom. Doing the laundry, and starting dinner.

With our daughter lots of her friends were in summer camps or were away for trips etc. So we would try to see them when they were around.

Also here in town a few of the movie theaters do have Kids movies for very inexpensive. Sometimes we would pitch a tent in the backyard and they would camp back there. Free concerts at lunch time around time. Story time at the library or local book stores. We would go on short hikes at some of the different parks.

So much going on.

One thing I learned from my mom, if we EVER said be were bored.. Oh lordy, we were handed a chore. Clean the Patio door inside and out. Clean out the dressers. Straighten up our closets. Vacuum out the car. So many things she could come up with. At 12, your child should be able to do the laundry, Vacuum and mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, pull weeds in the garden. Clean out the refrigerator.

If you can come up with some sort of daily then weekly schedule, it will make it a whole lot easier. And if the kids start whining, fighting or balking, have your own list of chores for them to do. They will learn to not complain and whine.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

There are two age groups in our family: "the talls" (14 & 12) and "the smalls" (6, 4 & 2). It's challenging to find fun activities for everyone when there's a larger age range.

Here's what works for all the kids in our family:
The lake: Talls have their own blanket, lunch & boogie boards. Smalls play in sand & water.
The library: Talls are on the computers playing games. Smalls play with toys.
The public pool:
Games: Everyone in my house loves Uno. We give my 2 year old an old deck of cards and she "plays" at the table with us.
Ping Pong: We bought a portable ping pong set and turn our dining room table into a ping pong table. All the kids love it.
The back yard: Talls are usually in the house on their iPods. Smalls play in inflatable pools and outside toys.
Our local college campus: Talls play basketball. Smalls play with balls & bubbles.
Art Supplies: I use a roll of easel paper to make a paper tablecloth. Add a couple sets of markers for the Talls and crayons for the Smalls and you have a perfect after lunch activity.

On the weekend my husband and I "divide and conquer". He takes the Talls on outings: museums, movies, hikes and bike rides. I take the Smalls to the children's museum, the playground or hang in the yard.

I run the local 5K's with the Talls and my husband takes the Smalls on walks or makes them a big breakfast. On Saturday mornings I take the Talls to yard sales. They enjoy the hunt as much as I do. They find "treasures" and I find cheap toys to entertain the smalls all weekend long.

There are some days where I'm busy with sick or cranky Smalls. My 12 year old daughter loves drawing, making rubber band bracelets and reading. I try to keep her stocked on supplies and books. This way she has things to keep her busy on those days. My 14 year stays busy playing Mine craft on the computer.

Hope some of these ideas help.
Hang in there!
SAHM of 5
14, 12, 6, 4 & 2

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I absolutely agree with you. The kids are used to constant stimulation and having nothing to do all day is frustrating for them.

I would plan on starting early and that way we're in the car on time...lol.

I also think that you need to have a master plan.

Like this.

Weather permitting of course, if it's raining then switch a day around.

Let's say the library has it's kids activity day on Thursday at 1 and the local pool is open every day except Wednesday (cleaning day) from 1-7, then there is an activity day at a local theater where they have a free movie on Monday, and other various activities like parks and stuff.

Plan on Mondays to go to the movies.

Tuesdays outdoor activity, fishing, hiking, zoo, picnic, and anything you can find to do outside. All day if possible. Swimming is also an option or going to a splash pad. The kids love them and they are sprouting up everywhere.

Wednesday free day? play computer, video games, veg in front of the TV, etc...

Thursday library day, go a little early if you want

Friday swim day. Take snacks and go after lunch.

Tell hubby you need a break on the weekends and he needs to step up and plan some outings where you just tag along for the fun of it. Nothing from you at all.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I'm sorry - it doesn't help when people tell you to enjoy something you don't enjoy.

What I did with my kids was make a SCHEDULE for the week. I woke them up at the same time every day. Breakfast first, in the car to the pool, swim lessons from 9 to 11. These two things were non-negotiable. I had two hours of reading, relaxing at the coffee shop, just enjoying the morning cool before it got hot, etc. Then lunch at home and sitting down to summer bridge activities. I taught my 3rd grader the multiplication tables and a year later, the states and their capitals like this. In the car while driving, I'd play the multiplication tapes, tell silly jokes about the states and their capitals, and play taped books so that they could listen to stories.

I would take them to the library 3 times a week, sometimes for the library staff read-aloud, but mostly for them to pick out books. My kids entered the summer library reading contests - that was important to them. I worked hard with them to keep their library books segregated from our personal books - that was sometimes a chore.

In order for my kids to "earn" TV or gameboy time, they had to help clean up their rooms and their toys every day. I chose the TV shows too. There was never TV or gameboy time in the morning, and all the summer bridge activities had to be done first as well. Trips to the park, movies, that kind of stuff were all earned by good behavior.

My advise to you about your kids' behavior is to deal with the issue of their age. The 12 year old is darn well old enough to understand that whining earns her cleaning jobs in the house. Period. Open her mouth to complain, and boom - she's scrubbing toilets. She is old enough to put together a personal summer fun plan to bring to you for tweaking and approval. You give her some parameters that include making room for any activities that have to be done at certain times (including naps). Tell her to make up a one week plan. If she can't 'think' of anything, send her to the library to find some ideas. There are science projects she could do, cooking projects, reading projects, etc. She needs to include her sibs in some of it, too.

If the little ones start squabbling, SEPARATE them. They go to their rooms and have to stay by themselves for 10 minutes, or until they quit crying. You might have to do it 10 times the first few days until they GET that you aren't going to let them get away with this. Perservere. You can do this. Require quiet time every afternoon, even if your 4 year old is no longer napping. Require the younger ones to play in their rooms together for small amounts of time. If they fight, they are SEPARATED. Every time.

I promise you that if you put your foot down NOW, stop allowing the whining and fighting, and put together a real schedule, you'll be a lot happier.

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answers from Norfolk on

I can't wait for school to be over!
No more worrying about homework. assignments, essays, building castle projects (although that would have been fun if it wasn't for the deadline on it)!
We've got archery camp lined up for a week and we'll be visiting my Mom for a week.
We have front/back porch to power wash and an iron railing we need to paint.
Our son's 15 so beside fun stuff (heading to the beach, etc) he's got to read up the driver's manual so he can get his learner's permit this summer.
I love summer!

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answers from San Francisco on

Ugh, I hear ya. We have NO kids in our neighborhood either, but we learned early on to make sure the kids got together with their friends from school as often as possible. I found there was a lot less fighting when they had friends over.
I know money is tight but could you join a swim club, or is there a public pool nearby? Our pool allowed kids to be dropped off as young as 9 during lifeguard hours. I used to leave my kids there for a few hours, or I would hang out in the shade and read a book, maybe meet up with some other moms. When I was a tween the pool was THE place to be! ***oh edit, I see you did mention going to the pool***
Beyond that, we did day trips to the beach, or to the regional parks where we would picnic, hike, explore and swim. Try to go with other moms and kids, if you can, it's more enjoyable for YOU if you have adult company. Plan the "younger" activities (like the zoo or library) on days when your 12 year old is over at a friend's house.
I don't think I would punish them with taking away outings for poor behavior (plus like you said, it punishes you as well!) Instead, just send them to their rooms, with no TV or electronics, and if they share a room, separate them. Sitting alone with no company or screen time was pretty effective with my kids.
Another thing your 12 year old might like to do is babysit, earn some extra money. My kids were babysitting or working as mother's helpers off and on starting at that age. They also did some pet and plant sitting for neighbors.

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answers from Columbia on

I am like you. I don't like the kids being out of school all summer. As a matter of fact, I think that it's bad for kids to be off for 3 months. If I had my way, kids would go to school year-round and have a 2 week break once per quarter. I think that this would be better for continuity of education, better for families who have to shell out a lot in childcare expenses, better for communities, and is generally a smarter way to handle our kids' educations.

Right now my boys are out of school. This week they're at a camp that the military is providing for Soldier's kids. Which is lovely. When they return, I'll put them to work on the house and the yard, and their spare time will be spent outside playing or at the community swimming pool. We'll do a few long weekend trips. That's about it. The majority of their time is spent either working or playing outside without me.

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answers from Salinas on

You sound extremely stressed by the fact that your kids are home all day and you have to be around them all day. How long have they been out, a week or so? Maybe because I work full time, but I enjoy the 5 weeks off I have every summer with my kids. Some times we just hang out and relax around the house, swim at grandparents or we do day trips, and usually a week long trip. Most days they have chores and some kind of reading or math assignment that they usually choose to "get out of the way" early in the day so we can go about our day. Hopefully your mom will be home soon to give you a break and refresh a little. I think your kids are feeling your stress.

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answers from Detroit on

Ahhhh, finally another mom admits it.
I have not found ANY reward system that their interest doesn't fade in. I also do not do activities if the behavior gets bad. This summer I plan on having a loose schedule so that the kids know what to expect and loom forward to. Were going to have free days and I need them to keep themselves busy because Im a full time student and need time for schoolwork.
If you haven't already done so go to kidsbowlfree.com and see if a bowling alley in your area participates. This is the second year we've done it and it is legit.
The city next to us has a summer recreation program free at parks-and the facilitator is an intern from a local college. They play games, do crafts, etc. I grew up there and they did it then-thank goodness they still do. Our city also has a recreation program but it's 100 bucks for weekly outings (they charter busses and take the kids places like amusement parks) fine for one child-pricy for four.
We make cat beds for the local animal shelter (fleece-like the tie blankets). So I plan on asking if the kids can walk dogs and help there.
My ten year old thinks she's a teen and is constantly saying she hates her siblings. The schools have a free meet up and eat program so I plan on dropping just her to meet and eat with buddies when she's good-then taking my other three to the other location to give her older kids time.
I sometimes bribe them with ice cream if we can ride bikes there. It's not very close-so it gets them moving.
Good luck! My mom lives an hour and a half away so no chance of her babysitting!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

That's tough with that age spacing... I've often thought if I quit working I have to plan for some summer camp money bc with so many kids in camp, it'd leave mine without many playmates. You've gotten good suggestions. Only other I can think of is there a swim team? Perhaps the local rec pool and it's cheap to be on the team for the summer? Your 12 year old seems to be the most important to get doing something. Can you round up some things to sell to fund some more weeks of camp? Likely they're in the routine of being busy now too and need some days to decompress and get used to just hanging out. So it may get a little easier vs worse. Are there things you can teach them like cooking, sewing, tennis?... Paint her room? Let her do some stenciling work? At the local pool, you may get lucky and find some other kids her age in the same situation so maybe hang out there some more. Good luck :)

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answers from Portland on

Well, I have one child instead of three, so I have it easier in some ways (less sibling bickering) and it can be challenging to be the only adult around most days.

Yes, I would have put the kibosh on the fun if the kids are acting up. Heck, we had to do that on Saturday; got to where we wanted to go, some unpleasant not-listening started, we warned, received uncooperative behavior and my husband and I decided that going home was the better option. And then, he spent an hour in his room, which was a very real consequence: if you are going to be so unpleasant that we can't enjoy ourselves during an outing, then you may not be with us.

The rest of the afternoon/evening was far better. I am a tough mom sometimes and extremely consistent.

Your twelve year old can get hired on as a mother's helper or a babysitter. The Red Cross usually offers classes for this. Let her earn some money for herself. Have all of the kids start a 'summer reading program' if your library runs one-- have them keep track of the book they have read or the amount of time spent reading/being read too. Common goal for all the kids.

When you do your 'jellybean jar', don't make it so hard for everyone. Set the goal and then, when the jar is filled, go. Don't make it contingent upon the jar being filled by a certain day-- that's too much pressure. I'd also let the kids 'award' jelly beans to each other by noticing the nice things they are doing for each other. This helps them to LOOK for the nicer behaviors instead of focusing on the negative. We do something similar at home where Kiddo has to earn 100 points and then we do a family activity/outing. Sometimes he earns them quickly-- at other times, we are all challenged and need to refocus on the small things he is doing *right* so he's not getting inundated with negatives. And he knows that if it takes two months to earn it, he'll still get to earn it, and he'll still keep working at it.

Like Doris Day, if we complained about being bored or got sassy, we were given chores. Like Laurie, at 12 I was the oldest and had responsibilities around the house and in keeping an eye on my younger brother (and NOT arguing with my sister, which was tough but my job). We were not entertained, even at seven or so, I remember my sister and I were pretty much left to our own devices and mom made meals. Sometimes she played a board game with us, but there was no nonsense and we were expected to get along.

I like the idea of schedules: when I was a nanny and had groups of kids for the whole day, I had a daily routine, times for the park (morning, when it was cooler) times to do art in the basement (hot afternoons), times for rest/reading, times for coming together to do a project or play a game. I didn't have tv or video games to fall back on as a nanny, so those days were structured enough to have a good balance of independently-led activities as well as the meals, snacks, and other reasons to come together.

My sister has three kids and she separates them all for one hour a day in the summertime. She has projects for them if they are bored.

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answers from Honolulu on

I ditto you completely.
Oh gawd, right?

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answers from New York on

My brother and I are 2.5 years apart. Our summers would usually have us having breakfast, doing chores, all going out to the playground, we would stop and have lunch under a shady tree where my mom and or grandma were chatting with their girlfriends. We'd play some more. On the way back, we would pop by the pet shop and stare at the fish, then have a picnic dinner in the living room (the only one in which we had air conditioning).

Once I was about 10, we were allowed to bike to the playground unsupervised. By the time I was 11, we were allowed to take the subway together.

Other outings included - a subway ride to the museum, zoo, or beach on pay what you want admission days. We would hike the bridle trails at the local park. We would play cops & robbers, and smurfs.

We never had outside food (budget was too tight), but if we were really good, we could bike to the ice cream shop and buy a quart for the family to share after dinner.

Mom also took full advantage of free concerts, performances and fireworks in the parks and other venues.

My mom would never have punished us by cancelling an outing, she can't stand to sit at home herself. Also, any b1tching on our part was fast met with chores.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.



answers from Bloomington on

Can you enroll your oldest for classes at Michael's? or Hobby Lobby? Last summer I took a cake decorating for beginners class and was so pleased to see two teen girls taking classes together. She can either pair up with a friend and make their home assignments and practice together or just enjoy herself. It goes for 4 weeks and is pretty reasonable - 30-40 for entire session and maybe 35$ for supplies.
Also community education classes will work for a tight budget.


answers from Grand Forks on

I don't get it, but my kids are only three years apart and seem to enjoy most of the same activities. I plan a fun outing just about every day!

When we go on outings I let each of my boys bring a friend so they have someone to hang out with besides one another. Sure, their friends are out of town a lot in the summer, but if they call around they can usually find a couple around.

Your twelve year old is twelve years old. She doesn't need to go with you and the younger kids to the park anymore! She can go to the pool or whatever on her own and maybe she will make a new friend she can hang out with. Or she could just hang out at home. Teach her how to go outside and entertain herself. Does she have a bike? Get her to call her friends and find out when they will be available, then invite them along on outings when they are. Maybe she could get a babysitting job. Have you got a YMCA in your area? She could volunteer at the Y or you could get her a membership so she has someplace to go.

Do you have the "Kids Bowl Free" program in your area? My kids enjoyed bowling when they were four and the twelve year old still enjoys it. Go to the library. Let the twelve year old go to the young adult section while you take the littles to the children's section. Do you have a U-Pick strawberry farm? Go-Carts? Beach? Museum? Zoo? Again, when you go on your outings the twelve year old doesn't need to hang out with you and the little kids. Let her go explore on her own (or with a friend) and meet you at a designated time and place.



answers from Los Angeles on

Oh honey, take a deep breath & hang in there. It will be okay!
Here are some ideas:
-take your kids to the mall. Take your youngest to the indoor play yard if
they have one & have your eldest bring an tablet or iPad or something.
-have your eldest invite a friend over. Any way you can go pick up the
friend if the parents are working?
-google free things in your area
-any chance you live close to a lake & can take them there for a day drive?
-Rent movies from Redbox (or get the free at the library), have them
watch them at the same time at home, make popcorn & lemonade.
-How about a lemonade stand? They could do it together. Get your eldest
excited by having her make the signs/posters, decorate the stand etc.
-Can you do a water thing in your backyard like a fun sprinkler thing or
slip n' slide? Water balloons, lunch etc?
-take them to an arcade for an hour. That may interest your eldest & your
youngest can do simple games.
-take them to a kids play at your local theatre
-do you have an outdoor shopping area where you can walk around, hv
your youngest play at a playground there, share a cheap lunch there.
-go for a picnic (pick up food to make it easy on yourself or make it yourself to make it cheap).
-make a fun cake together. Pink inside, color white frostin any color you want, funfetti sprinkles.
-have a garage sale together. Get them both involved.
-go to the zoo. (call for cheap days).
-take them out to lunch (share a couple of dishes to make it cheaper).
-bowling. You put the rails up so the youngest can roll it down w/your help. It's air conditioned & can be cheap-ish.
-if your street is busy, have a bake sale. Just sell cookies & cupcakes.
-go to a nearby park you've never been to.
-find a walking trail. Put your youngest in a jog stroller or reg stroller.
-when you go to the park, hv your eldest bring an electronic device
-hv a garage sale? Hv them help to get them excited. Pick the best day
for your area (Fri morn or Sat morn only until noon).
-Definitely go to the pool, library (don't punish yourself next time, find a
diff way to deal w/the eldest) ;), zoo.
-encourage your eldest to find a fun recipe for her to make & help her w/it
if needed as you hv your youngest watch a video.
-buy a piece of pottery to paint at the Dollar Store & have the do it.
-you make cupcakes & have them decorate them together. Bring out all
kinds of fun things to decorate with


answers from Dallas on

I have 1 child so I know it is not as difficult as you have it. That said, she had friends here all the time and it seemed like I had more children but I really didn't mind it as long as they were engaged in something without girl drama. I also had daughter involved in other activities such as come short camps with drama, cooking, CPR, continued violin lessons, martial arts, and more. She did a couple of week long overnight camps but she was not too crazy about them.

She is 19 and lives in her own condo now... we visit a lot, have dinners, and all is great. She just finished her first year of college and is a nanny this summer to a little girl who has absolutely NO imagination. She is floored and the parents have asked her to please get the child to do something. I think she has been in front of a computer and tv screen too much.. She hates outside, hates games, no idea on pretend play, no dressup. Daughter took beads the other day and they seemed to be a hit so today she is took new crafts for them to work on.

School let out on June 6 here and it is already crazy. We live in a nice upscale neighborhood and we've already had police out to the community pool because teens put all the pool furniture in the pool, then teens were caught in the pool pooping at 5am which shut the pool down for 3 days, and last night teens put caution tape across the street and waited for cars to hit it. OMG and this is the beginning... It will be a LONG summer here.


answers from Washington DC on

I'm opposite of you, but maybe because I work full-time and don't get the summers off with my kids. Doesn't mean the way you feel is wrong at all!!

Maybe ask them what they want to do? My kids LOVE the pool, sleeping in, movies, the local marine museum, library, park, play time with friends, etc. I try to give my sitters money to do ice cream sometimes or lunch out. They love to do arts and crafts projects. They also enjoy days sometimes where they stay in their PJ's and play on the computer, read a book, watch TV - have a lazy day.

We are so busy during the school year with sports and school, that we all look forward to and enjoy the summer. Granted, our summer works out to be about 4 weeks because activities start back up in August.

My kids are 7, 9 and 11 on Saturday. They have the fun things I mentioned above, but they also have responsibilities in the house. That helps to keep them busy. Oh! And they really enjoy vacation bible school. Many in our area are FREE. Check that out too :).


answers from St. Louis on

Some things that your 12 yo- old kid may want to do and some others in which both of your children can share or participate in are:
Riding a bicycle with friends or by himself. He can touch basis with you every 20 min (up to you),
Cleaning up or organizing something you need to be done at home, that takes A LOT of time. Gardening, weeding, watering plants and playing with water with his little brother (?), cleaning the garage, re-organizing his own bedroom;
hanging out with friends, relatives at home, have a good spot in the backyard with some things to play (basketball, volleyball, ping-pong table, a cheap water slide (there are from $9.99 - 34.00) or she can make one out of a big plastic sheet. You provide some refreshments or popsicles and everyone is happy!
Park Day or Pool Day. There are so many parks and pools everywhere! You can invite some friends with your kids' ages and have fun, or just go all of you as a family and have a picnic in the park or outside the pool under a nice tree!
Library Day
Legos, there are so many for every age, and that includes your both kids.
Summer is good also for learning, and reviewing what kids have learned at school, right? It doesn't have to be boring. You can go to the library a couple of days a week, find a quiet spot and read about science, history or geography, find some math games, etc. There are plenty! Do this during those days when the weather is too hot (unless you can go to the pool) or too rainy ; your older kid may read/ teach something to your little one. For instance, my 14 yo old taught my 8 yo the multiplication tables last year, just singing and playing with a ball in the backyard.
Swim Lessons;
Go to the cinema, during summer there are many cinemas that offer good promotions or free admissions, etc.
Visit a museum, art center or science center, all these are excellent options to keep the kids amused as well.
With the little one is so much easier: bubbles, chalk, a simple hose.....yes, place sprinklers and let him have fun even your older kid may want to join.
Let them play more outdoors that will help, just keep an eye on them while reading or having a glass of lemonade or a cup of coffee.
You said,".....big factor in the poor behavior is boredom...." I don't think so, big factor in the poor behavior, whining, fighting, and boredom is the fact that many kids are not taught what to do with their spare time. Teach your kids that it is not possible to play every day with them or do "fun things" every day, they need to have chores, they need to help around the house, they need to learn something new (another language?, develop advanced math skills, crafts, painting, reading, find a hobby, finances, etc) Kids are sponges, whatever you teach them, they will learn. Doing a little bit here and there, they will go back to school soon and you will feel free. I know that many moms feel the way you feel, I am not that mom, but I still understand how difficult may be this for you. Be patient.



answers from Dallas on

Is there an inexpensive camp (at your local rec center, for example) that you can send your 12 y/o to for a little bit throughout the summer? Then you can take your little ones to a park for a long time. Do you have access to a pool? Kids of all ages love to swim. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

get out a calendar
go to Pinterest and search for science experiments, art projects and other fun stuff like obstacle courses, water play and places to go
Now gather round the kids and fill in that calendar putting in something to do on every single day - mix it up so each kid gets to pick at least one thing a week to do, for the older kids make them in charge of the activity. Some great ones for that age are drip painting and tall painting. Family Fun website also has a lot of great games and such. You may need to split the calendar by kid and have a list for the older group and a list for the younger group. You can also search google for your town and field trips or free things to do.
Now as far as the getting along thing - ask the older ones what they suggest as a way to have everyone get along, you might be surprised by what they come up with.
You may also have to actually schedule their time - outside time is from 10 - 12, lunch at noon, reading and games from noon till 2 while your 4 yr old naps, then 2 - 3 is group activity and 3 till dinner time is free choice.
Good luck!

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