"I know what we're going to do today." --Phineas of Disney's Phineas & Ferb
I love Phineas. He is the talkative half of a pair of brothers whose clueless parents never catch on to their over-the-top summer antics--despite their tattletale older sister's best efforts. Phineas and Ferb always have something to do over summer break. My kids could take a page out of their book (though I really don't want them launching a rocket to the moon!).
Though I enjoy having summer fun with my kids, I also love it when they find creative things to do over summer without me. And I bet other work-at-home moms feel the same way. So for a little inspiration, browse these eight weeks' worth of ideas for things to do over summer.
Join a Summer Reading Program
First things first. Start your summer right by setting into place a reason to read. Sure, reading isn't quite as exciting as building rockets, but I'm betting old Phineas and Ferb had to crack a book to get that engineering right.
Reading is great for kids and for work-at-home moms. A kid with his nose in a book isn't bickering with siblings or making a mess. But most important, of course, he is learning.
Some kids are born readers, some are reluctant readers, and some are in between. (I have one of each. Read about my family's reading challenge to see how I handle this.) Summer reading programs are a great way to inspire reading. I bet your local library has a summer reading program, but if not try one of these summer reading programs, contests or clubs to inspire your child to read this summer.
I know what you're going to say. "Picnic! But I have to work! Aren't these ideas supposed to be ideas for work-at-home moms?"
Yes, but you have to eat too, right? So pack it up and take it outside. It doesn't have to be elaborate or far (think backyard, if time is tight). Kids love picnics. It can break up the day if you do one at lunch, or it can be something to look forward too at dinner. And now, before the weather gets blazing, is the best time for picnics.
Art can be messy, and art can take some oversight. Yet that doesn't mean it can't be part of a WAHM's repertoire of things to do over summer. Choose the right art projects--i.e., things kids can do (and clean up after) themselves--and art can be a work-at-home mom's best friend.
This list of summer art ideas were chosen from across the About.com network because kids can work on them independently.
Summer is just getting started, and the last thing kids want to think about is summer homework. But working consistently on homework all summer beats an all-nighter just before back-to-school time. And for some kids, summer homework can keep them busy while mom works at home.
Kids are social animals. At school, they are constantly interacting with other kids. So when summer comes and the number of kids they can regularly interact with dwindles to only a few, they get bored quickly. And boredom is the enemy of every work-at-home mom! I find that I am more productive when I have an extra kid or two visiting than I am with just my three.
But my kids are old enough that they don't need a lot of direct supervision. If yours are not, set up a "kid swap" where you watch a friend's kids one day and she watches yours another.
Write Your Summer Bucket List
For kids, fun always seems like a spontaneous thing. And often it is. Sometimes, kids can amuse themselves for hours with just a balloon or an empty paper towel roll. However, frequently parents have a hand in engineering kids' fun. It's not always as spontaneous as it looks!
Like everything else, fun can take some planning. Take a little time early in the summer to map out some of the things your family wants to do this summer, e.g., day trips, picnics, family events, camping, the beach, amusement parks...whatever is on your summer bucket list. Page through this article or use the links below for more ideas.
Sidewalk chalk is a great investment. It's cheap but provides hours of fun, as kids create art on walkways or driveways. But chalk can be used for more than just art. Kids can make a hopscotch, four square or tic-tac-toe game. They can create the boundaries of their fantasy world, draw a foul line for the driveway's basketball goal, write clues of a treasure hunt or mark the finish line of a race.
Chalk inspires kids to be, well, kids. Pull up your computer to the window and just watch the fun!
Now that you have chalk all over your house and driveway, it's time to break out the hose. Kids love to get wet. And there are so many ways for them to enjoy water play. Let them spray each other with the hose, set up the sprinkler, get a water table, fill up a baby splash pool or even take them too a pool.
I know water play is not the easiest activity for a WAHM, but kids love it and will keep at it for a long time. So embrace the messiness and let them get wet!
Cooking with kids is fun, education and practical--all the things a work-at-home mom wants in a summer activity. But it can also be messy and require adult supervision--things she doesn't. But the long-term benefit of teaching kids to cook far outweigh the short-term inconvenience.
For little kids, teach them how to make a sandwich instead of just making it for their lunch. Explain to them what your doing one day and the next talk them through the whole process from finding the bread to putting it away when finished. Keep all items needed for sandwich-making in reach of little hands. They won't learn it all the first time through, but with coaching preschoolers can master sandwiches and other simple food prep. And then lunch is one less task for you.
Older kids can not only make their own lunch, but can learn to make simple dinners as well.
Yes, this is an investment of your time. But you know the old saying about teaching a person to fish, right? Well, at least this doesn't involve worms!Read More
Puzzles are great because they can be an ongoing activity that lasts all summer or something that might occupy kids for an afternoon or even an hour. And puzzles span all ages from toddlers to teens.
To make puzzles an ongoing activity, clear a space a start a jigsaw puzzle. Then work on it as a family. I find that this works best if you set up in a fairly well trafficked area. Problem is table space in well-trafficked areas can be in short supply. We've done puzzles on an old board so it can be moved in a pinch.
But if you don't have the time or space for a large jigsaw puzzle, there are plenty of other puzzling options. A 100-piece puzzle can be done in a short period of time and cleaned up before dinner. And there are traditional puzzle books filled with crosswords, word searches and sudoku for kids, then there are wordless books like the I Spy or Where's Waldo series. But don't forget about brainteasers, one-minute mysteries, riddle books and the like.