Trying to keep the kids occupied during the summer

School has been out for about 10 days. The first few days are heaven for the kids. They sleep in. Watch TV or play. No more getting up. No more homework. The kids love it. But the newness of it all is wearing off.

That means it is time to make sure the kids are busy enough that they don’t spend all their time bickering, playing on their iPads or driving their mom crazy. (especially this last one)

As always, I try to have things for the kids to do. But as they get older, I find it harder to find things that they both like. It was much easier when they were little and the park or an indoor play place sufficed.

We still have our old standbys – the zoo, the children’s museum, Pump It Up, Sea World. We go to the free or dollar movies offered by our local theatres. There will be swim lessons and Lexie still has her weekly gymnastics class.

We can go visit their grandparents or even let them go spend the night – or two. And we have our neighborhood pool as a wonderful free option.

And in between these activities, we do have two trips planned. The first is a short three-day trip to South Padre Island. This is actually work for my husband as he attends the annual city attorney’s conference.  While he hears lectures, the kids and I go to the beach. This year the conference is at the Schlitterbaun Resort, so we will go to the water park at least one day. My brother will be joining us on this trip. The kids are excited to have their Uncle coming to the beach with them.

Our other trip is in July. We are going to Houston for a week. For the past two summers, we have been planning to go here. It is only a three-hour drive from San Antonio and has lots to do. But something always comes up. First, it was a cruise that my parents paid for and then last summer we put it off so we could go to Disney World in December.

But this year we will get to Houston. The hotels are already booked and the City Pass tickets (which let you view five area attractions at a discounted price) have been purchased. We will be going to Houston Space Center, the Kemah Boardwalk, the zoo, the Aquarium and the Natural History Museum. Of course, I totally expect the hotel pool to be the big hit. Heck, my kids just love staying in a hotel room and will be more excited over that than the attractions.

While this seems like we have a lot planned or at least have a lot of options, by the end of July, we will probably be looking for new things to keep us busy. I will check Groupon and scouring the newspaper or Facebook looking for fresh ideas to keep the kids busy and out of trouble as school doesn’t begin until the end of August.

And while the kids will be enjoying their summer, I, on the other hand, will probably be counting the days until they are back in school and my routine returns to normal.

Summer is here…now to keep the kids busy

The kids had their last day of school on June 2. Now we have the whole summer ahead of us.

What to do to keep them busy rather than fighting with each other? I have some ideas…

Swim Lessons

Last summer, the kids took an 8-day swim class put on by Swim America. They really enjoyed it and asked to do that again this summer. From Monday to Thursday for the last two weeks in June, we will be at the pool each morning for swim lessons. Maybe this year, Lexie will get to level 4 – the level needed to be considered a proficient swimmer.

Camp

A flyer came home from the kids’ school at the end of April, which listed some week-long camps offered through the school. Some are all day camps, and some are just morning or afternoon camps. Jase didn’t do a camp last year, so I was hoping to find something he would like.

He chose a Video Game Design camp aimed for kids age 9 to 13. Lexie who loves to draw and loves dogs found the perfect camp with The Secret Lives of Pets art class. She will learn how to draw anything with feathers, fur or scales.

Both camps are in July but unfortunately are not the same week.

Water Park/Pool

DSCN0132It is awesome that our neighborhood has a pool as that is free entertainment. We typically head there a few times a week. I like mornings because we have the place to ourselves, but if we go in the afternoon, we have a better chance of running into classmates or friends. Either way the kids have fun and can practice their swimming.

We also have a season pass to Six Flags, which includes their water park. We usually hit this about once a month.

School Review/Life Skills

OK, I am the type of mom who likes to make sure my kids don’t have that summer slide – this is where kids lose some of the knowledge they learned in school. We will practice math facts and of course do some reading. (Both the school, the library and a few book stores offer reading programs.) I am not talking about a lot of work – just a few minutes (or half an hour) here and there to help them retain those facts or work on areas recommended by their incoming grade level teachers.

Another thing we hope to go over this summer is some life skills. We are going to work on cooking (which we started over Spring Break). I want them to be able to read and follow a recipe. We will work on making sure they know how to do laundry, understand banks and credit cards and just be able to do some of the things that they take for granted as being done by me (or my husband).

Other Activities

IMG_4339We fill in our other free time with visits to the park, my parents’ house, or places that have offered deals on Groupon. With Groupon, we have gotten discount tickets for laser tag, bowling, the children’s museum and archery. Lexie also is continuing her weekly gymnastics class. Jase like going because he gets to hang out with a friend during that time. And of course we have just staying home and playing games, doing crafts or science experiments.

Any way you look at it, we will find ways to have a busy, fun summer. And before we know it, it will be back to school time.

Keeping the kids busy this summer

It is always a challenge to keep the kids busy during the summer so they don’t spend all their time squabbling or watching hours of TV. I usually try to have something planned most days. If you are looking for some ideas, here is what we have going on.

Free Activities

The best things are always free but there aren’t too many things nowadays that are free. We will spend some time at our neighborhood pool, visiting my parents or stocking up on books at the library (which sometimes offers a craft). If it isn’t too hot, we also may hit one of the parks on our way to the library.

Paid Activities

IMG_0022With season passes or memberships to a few area attractions, we will also be going to the zoo, Sea World and the Doseum, San Antonio’s new children’s museum. As a family we also finally made it to Natural Bridge Caverns in June. We also have a Groupon for an afternoon at Pump It Up, a local inflatable/bounce slide place, and Lexie is signed up for mermaid camp in July.

Home Craft Activities

What better way to stop the TV/iPad watching then a few afternoon activities. I have a few plans I have pulled off the Internet, including – sponge ball fights and chalk rockets. I found lots of great hints on this list for June and this one for July. Many of the activities are aimed for the smaller kids, so I am going to have to find those that will interest a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old. If I need more ideas there is always Pinterest.

School Work

Yes, I am one of the moms out there that makes my kids do some school work during the summer to avoid that summer slide (where kids spend 2 1/2 months forgetting most of what they learned.) We will be doing reading, math and writing each week to keep their minds active.

Home Projects

We have some projects we want to get done this summer. In June, we have been cleaning and organizing the kids rooms. All the broken and and unused toys were out and the rest of their belongings organized. This is all in preparation for July’s project of painting each kids’ room.

Lexie has chosen two different pinks (with sparkles, of course). The dark pink will be on the bottom half of the room and the lighter pink on the top. We have also bought an awesome Elsa decal for the wall.

As for Jase, he is going with just blue walls. His current walls are blue, but the paint job is 12 years old so time to freshen it up with a newer shade. His big thing will be getting a huge Star Wars wall mural. It will be quite the focal point.

Free time 

And it wouldn’t be summer vacation without some down time where the kids can play in their rooms, read a book or even perhaps just veg in front of the TV for a little while.

Not every minute of the summer needs to be planned, but it helps to have options to keep those kids busy rather than bored.