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Keeping Your Kids Busy This Summer

Summer is here and the kids are home from school. Keeping your kids busy this summer can be fun yet daunting!

Even though you probably are excited about spending some extra time with those little munchkins, summer can sometimes seem to stretch out and last forever. Eventually you’ll hear the dreaded, “I’m bored!” and this is usually followed by cranky and fighting children. You can help prevent your summer from being transformed into a parent’s nightmare by keeping your kids busy this summer.

Start with a List

During the summer, days can slip by before you accomplish any of your goals. To help keep your kids busy this summer with all of those fun activities you know they’ll love, try making a list. Your summer fun list should include different crafts, activities, and ideas of things you want to accomplish this summer. Each time you do something on the list, check it off and add something new. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have with this simple tip.

To help you get started, here are 50 fun things for kids to do outside.  Need more ideas? Here are 15 free activities for kids this summer.

Go Camping

Take a few days this summer to have some fun and get away from everyday life. Camping is the perfect way to do this. It keeps your kids busy and gives the entire family a chance to spend some quality time together. Be sure to have some camping fun by bringing ingredients for s’mores, fishing poles, and hiking gear.

Kids Busy during summe

Arrange Play Dates

If you have multiple children, you’re probably grateful that your kids can play with each other. Even though this is great for day-to-day playing, it can get a little boring for your kids. Keep your kids busy this summer by setting up different play dates. These play dates can be at your home or even the park or beach.

Try to have at least one play date a week so your kids have something to look forward to… unless you’re not a fan of arranged play dates!  Do you hate play dates or hate them?

Squeeze in Some Learning

This is probably something your kids don’t want to hear, but learning is a great way to keep your kids busy over the summer. The school year is filled with schedules and routines, which is a good thing because your kids know what to expect and when to expect it. The summer can get a little hectic since all of those normal routines are thrown out the door for a few weeks. This is why some areas have year round school.

Keep your kids following at least one routine by fitting in a short learning period each day. This can include anything from 30 minutes of reading to a short math game.

 

Finding entertaining and interesting things for your kids to do each week will help keep your summer fun and conflict-free. What are some ways you keep your kids busy over summer vacation?

 

KristinKristin is a work at home mom with a beautiful (and smart!) 4-year-old boy. She has a degree in elementary education, but loves the fact that she is has the opportunity to stay at home with her son and still make a living. Now she gets to live out her passion for writing about all things kids, especially when it comes to mixing fun and education.

Do You Like Play Dates or Hate Them?

by Christy Laverty

Ah the play date. It can be a parent’s saviour or worst nightmare. There is no avoiding them it seems these days, play dates are king.

I don’t know about you but I have found the whole play date thing a huge learning curve. I didn’t have these kind of play dates when I was a kid. We didn’t set up play dates; we just played with friends, or played with other kids in the neighbourhood.

Now play dates are events. Kids plan them while they are in school and ambush their parents on the playground . If you are really organized, they are even scheduled days in advance.

Then there is all the talk and planning about what the kids are going to do on said play date? Like playing, just playing, isn’t really an option, something big needs to be planned.

And then there is the politics of play dates (as I like to call it); who is playing with whom, Moms you don’t know, or don’t like.  Yes I said it. Let’s be honest, just because your kids are friends you don’t have to be friends, or even like each other.

There is no doubt that if you were to talk with a group of moms, you would hear some say they love play dates and then others who say they hate them. I think it is fair to say many moms have a love-hate relationship with them.

Samantha Montpetit-Huynh, runs her own business, Core Expectations, and is a mom of two girls. She loves play dates.

“They are either out of the house so I can get some work done or it’s actually easier having friends here so my girls don’t fight – they just go away and play amongst themselves (sounds so horrible to say – I swear I love my kids!)” says Montpetit-Huynh.

Cathy*** also runs her own business and has one eight year old daughter. She has just the opposite feeling about play-dates. For her, play dates are more of a necessary evil.  She can honestly say she hates play dates.

“They are just difficult. You have to entertain the kids often, there is often fighting and I never know how to discipline other peoples kids”, says Cathy. She admits she only agrees to play dates because she knows they are important to her daughter. If she had her way she would take a pass on them every time.

It is pretty difficult to completely avoid play dates. They are an important part of your child’s social life. You want your kids to have friends but play dates can be a huge inconvenience sometimes to parents. There are ways to make them work with a little planning so they are fun for everyone, even mom and dad.

Parenting expert and author Alyson Schafer, says play dates are like any other parenting situation, if you set up the rules ahead of time things will go a lot easier. Play dates for younger kids can be more work for parents. There is a lot more set up involved and work for parents at the play date.

Schafer says parents can teach younger children how to behave at play dates. It can be hard when you are sending your kids off to someone else’s house, you don’t want to have to worry your child is misbehaving at the play date.

“I treat it as an opportunity to use a logical consequence which is to say I wouldn’t do it with a cousin who you only see every two years. You want to have all the training in place so when that happens you’ve already done your hard work”, says Schafer.  “It is important to artificially set up some play dates with friends. Basically this is a practice run so everyone learns what is expected of them and how play dates go.”

No matter how old your children are, Schafer says it is important to talk about expectations before the play date even starts.  She says family meetings are a great way to lay everything out.

“I really recommend parents have weekly family meetings and then you can say we need to talk about putting more play dates on the agenda.”  Schafer says this also helps to stop those on the fly, ambush-after-school, kind of play-dates.

Montpetit-Huynh has a few tips of her own for making play dates a lot more fun for everyone. She says it is important to arrange them in advance and be respectful of people’s time. If you say you are picking up your kids at a certain time, be on time.

“There is a father in the neighbourhood who is ALWAYS late picking up his kids (he’s a surfer dude type) and it drives my mom crazy. She is extremely punctual.” (Montpetit-Huynh’s mom looks after her kids after school.) Also, giving advance notice of food allergies, likes and dislikes instead of saying “whatever” and then your kid doesn’t eat anything is helpful.

The key to successful play dates is really in the planning. If everyone knows when play dates are and knows what is expected of them, children and parents, then everyone wins in the end. Set the rules, stick to them and have fun.

***name changed for privacy reasons

Christy LavertyChristy Laverty is a mother and an editor for a Toronto all news radio station. She also does freelance writing for several parenting magazines. Visit Christy’s blog where she updates the trials, tribulations, and fun of being mom of two beautiful girls.