We're entering the homestretch. So far, I've learned a lot about how to survive the rest of the summer. Feel free to let me know if you have any others. Together, we can survive this.
Tips for surviving summer with kids at home:
1. Buy a lot of food. Approximately eight times more food than you think you could ever possibly use. And then buy twice that amount. Don't even marvel at the amount of times in one day you will hear "I'm hungry," just accept that your house has now turned into a Golden Corral.
2. Buy industrial amounts of paper plates, bowls and cups, or you will be doing dishes from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep and then they still won't be done. (See above) If you're worried about the environment, make up for it elsewhere this summer. For instance, a fun activity for the kids would be gathering rain water for the garden they planted to grow lots of vegetables they won't eat. Or traveling the neighborhood gathering up all the excess wine and beer bottles that seem to multiply in the summer months, for reasons unknown.
3. Always keep a lot of sunscreen on hand. Just know that 90 percent of the time you won't have it when you need it, and when you spend 45 minutes lathering up the kids in it, it will rain all day.
4. Movies! Netflix, Red Box, whatever…just get a lot of them. Then, spend an hour preparing for it, making popcorn, etc. As soon as you get everyone settled down to watch it, one of two things will happen. A) They will actually watch it, and talk the entire time. "Mom. Mom look. Mom. Watch. Mom, this part is funny. Mom. Mom. Mom. LOOK! Mom, are you watching? Mom, this part is sad. This is the part where the guy's brother dies. Mom. Are you watching?" B) Within 5 minutes you'll be the only one left in the room. Either way, you're not watching a movie.
5. Schedule your days. 30 minutes for arts and crafts. 20 minute reading sessions. Limited video game play. Mandatory outside time if the temperature is below 100. Remember you have a schedule around the second hour of Minecraft-a-Palooza and then let them keep playing because they are leaving you alone. Besides, upon further reflection, the homemade spray paint in squirt bottles seemed like a better idea on paper.
6. Find something really fun to do as a family. This could be a cool festival, a road trip to somewhere different, an exciting restaurant experience, the possibilities are endless. In the end, it doesn't really matter what you pick because the kids will complain about it, and you'll wonder why you ever bother to try new things with them and why can't your kids just shut up and have fun as a family for once?!
7. Develop an effective strategy for dealing with fighting siblings. The thing that works best for me is separating them…from myself. I like to go outside with a cold drink and sit on the shady deck with my earbuds in. This is only recommended if your children are old enough that you're relatively certain they can't fall down the stairs, drink bleach or set things on fire.
Paula Brown is a mom of two boys, writer, hoping to someday get paid in grocery store gift cards, and is not opposed to the idea of year-round school. She can be reached at email@example.com.