If any of you moms are like me, the final days of summer leading up to that glorious return to school have got you feeling like you are running the longest, sweatiest marathon – a marathon in which there are no cups of water lovingly shoved in your face when you need refreshment. Some of us want to faint and give up – but we can’t because we know the other runners will literally trample our bodies. That’s what the last few days of summer can feel like for mothers of little ones.
We’ve done the amusement parks, we’ve done the zoo. We’ve baked in the sun at the splash pad and fried our shoulders at the beach. Our Pinterest kids craft bin stash is drained. We are all out of pizza coupons for Friday nights and we’ve exhausted every kids movie available on Netflix (we are literally down to the bottom of the barrel of the Pup Stars sequels right now).
The kids are bored. You know this, because they’ve only said it about eleventeenthousand times.
I know you are exhausted. Me, too. So here’s where we need to help each other. We need to ask fellow moms, sisters, our faraway Facebook family members whose kids are grown (the ones who tell us they’d “give anything to have their little ones back home”). Ok then, I’m asking you, tell me what to do with them. Because at this point, anything is better than the Nick Jr. marathons I find myself turning on during these waning summer days.
In the meantime, here are a couple of my own suggestions for anyone who might be struggling with ideas for the kids, before we send them off to school for nine months. Here are my easy go-to’s for keeping the kids occupied at least a fraction of the day when you just can’t think of anything else.
Let’s finish this marathon to the back to school finish line together, y’all. Pinterest, eat your heart out.
1. RAINING MARSHMALLOWS. If your kids are bored, but you know they aren’t hungry (because they ate an entire loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter about three minutes ago), then proceed to the pantry and pray you have mini marshmallows. Take them outside and tell them to close their eyes. Bust open that bag and start throwing marshmallows up in the sky, because it’s raining marshmallows! I promise lots of giggles as they scramble to find as many marshmallows as they can and shove them in their mouths. You’ll laugh for at least 10 minutes, because of course, they can’t talk with all those marshmallows in their cheeks. This also works with big marshmallows, if you didn’t already exhaust them on s’mores night.
2. PILLOW CRASH PILES. I know you probably spent all day picking up the basement, but let’s face it, it’s going to get messy again in about five minutes, so don’t sweat the mess on this one. Collect every pillow and cushion you own and put it in a big pile. You know what to do. Let them take turns running and jumping into this pile. This never gets old – that is of course, until someone bangs her head into the TV. Game over.
3. WET BUTTS. It’s a hot day. You’re sweating the hell out of those yoga pants, I know. You don’t have the energy to pack up and drag them to the pool today – we’ve all been there. Let me tell you about a little game we played in 1986. It’s called fill ‘er up, and it’ll be your savior for at least an hour or so. Tell the kids to put their bathing suits on and get the hose out. Have them line up and stick a hose down the back of their suit and then shove them off to run a lap around the house with their ‘full tank’ until they come around to fill up again. It’s always fun to be in charge of the hose, sitting in your lawn chair, lowering the property values in your neighborhood with these shenanigans, or you could also get an older child to do the filling up. Either way, you’ll get a lot of laughs and so will they.
4. THEY ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM. They want ice cream. Again. At this point in the summer, we have been to Graeters way too many times and have paid way too much for black raspberry chip cones and turtle sundaes. Seriously, I own at least 89% stock in the company and I should at least have a flavor named after me by now (something tells me it would be called the Vanilla Nut Job). So if you’re all out of money too, but the kids want that ice cream fix, get yourself some cheap vanilla ice cream, put it on the table and raid your pantry for every possible item that could make a good topping. Get out the old sprinkles from last year’s birthday party, chocolate chips leftover from baking cookies, crush some graham crackers, find some M&Ms in the picked over Halloween candy bucket – anything works. Put the toppings in little cups and set it up in a do-it-yourself station on the table. They are going to love scooping it themselves and pouring on toppings (we let the kids use special bowls we painted at the pottery place in our optimistic week 1 of summer vacation). It’s a cheap treat and mom rules for letting them have all that crap on top. Suck it ice cream man!
5. ICE. Here’s where we’ve just plain given up. My kids love this one. I fill big bowls, tubs and pitchers with ice cubes and put them on the deck. I give them spoons, spatulas, tongs, ladles and even a potato masher. They will crush, smash, pour and eat ice for longer than they ever play with any expensive Christmas toy I buy them. The best part is the fact that when it all melts, you just give them more ice. I’m not sure whether I should be embarrassed because of my lack of creativity here or patent this as the cheapest, most brilliant summer activity. Something tells me I should just pin it.
We can do this, Moms! And if you have any other brilliant ideas to share, you know I could use the help.