How to keep my kids occupied this summer
Hello Summer. The children are calling.
For work-from-home parents, summer often brings mixed emotions. Sunny weather, vacations, and making memories as a family bring on the warm fuzzies. The sounds of mayhem and “I’m bored,” while you’re on a Zoom call… well they bring the opposite.
Now that summer is here, your children will spend a lot more time at home. This is great, except when you are a work-from-home parent. Then it can also be distracting and stressful.
We are providing ideas to keep your kids busy this summer, so you can continue to be productive during your workday. Whether your children are in preschool or middle school, we’ve got you covered.
Keep A Summer Schedule
Kids generally do better when they have a routine and know what is next. Adults often appreciate a routine too! While it takes a little up-front planning, creating a summer schedule can serve as a great tool for setting boundaries and expectations with your children. If you can find ways to add structure and predictability to your kid’s day, you may be less distracted. At the very least, you’ll know when you’ll have time to focus.
To get started creating your own summer schedule, check out Parents.com(Opens in a new window). The site offers some key tips for creating a schedule based on your child's age, as well as sample schedules.
Avoid the Summer Slide
Studies(Opens in a new window) have shown that kids lose almost a quarter of their school year math and reading gains during the summer. Help them avoid the summer slide by giving them their own work to do while you get some of your work done.
Younger kids will benefit from simple worksheets, educational coloring pages and memory games. Several websites provide free or low-cost printables based on your child’s age level. Just type “free summer printables” into your browser’s search bar. You can also find inexpensive workbooks at your local dollar store.
Making your own supplies can also be cost-effective. For example, use note cards or your computer to create a sight words memory game. Or develop a math game with math equations on one card and the answer on another. For visual learners, use one side of the notecard to visually show the number or equation (think five stickers or dots), and the other side to show the number (5) or the answer to the math equation.
YouTube and online apps also provide great resources for more interactive learning. Jack Hartmann’s YouTube videos(Opens in a new window) will get your kids up and moving as they learn. These videos help strengthen their minds and work out some of the wiggles. Apps also provide more structured learning opportunities for your kids while giving them some much loved screen time. Very Well Family shares its list of the best educational apps(Opens in a new window) for toddlers through teens to help get you started. Your child’s teachers may also have some ideas.
Your older student may have summer homework to complete, such as summer reading, before the beginning of the new school year. Encourage them to read and write book reports during your work time.
Give Kids Things to Do
Chores that is. How can your kids help you this summer? Kids love feeling like they are productive members of the family. Chores teach kids responsibility, help you out, and keep everyone occupied. With more time on their hands, summer can be a great time to set up a new chore chart. Have your kids work through their chores while you get work done.
Plan Activities That Allow You to “Sittervise”
When planning your summer schedule, look for activities that allow your child to play independently while you work and “sittervise(Opens in a new window).” What is sittervising? It’s a term coined by BusyToddler(Opens in a new window) blogger Susie Allison to describe supervising from a seated position.
Depending on your child’s age, you’ll need to provide varying levels of supervision. If you have younger children , plan activities that involve more supervision, but allow them to play without you. Take your laptop out to the backyard for some outdoor play, or onto the porch to supervise bike or scooter riding. Pull out the Play-Doh®, sensory sand, and art supplies for some playtime indoors.
Other fun summer activities include:
- Sidewalk chalk
- Scavenger hunts
- Obstacle courses with pool noodles or other summer toys
- Hanging a bird feeder and providing kids with binoculars
- Playing at local parks
- Holding a simple ice cream or popsicle party
Team Up with Friends
Know other work-from-home parents? Consider teaming up to help each other get through the summer. Take turns having each other’s child to your house for a playdate. It’s a win-win when your kids are engaged with friends and you can focus on work. Just make sure to set up boundaries about noise levels and what they can and can’t do. Also discuss where they can and can’t go. For example, perhaps you want them to stay out of your office while you are working and out of the front yard while you’re not there.
Or consider a park playdate. If you have a laptop and don’t need connectivity, this can be a great way to get your kids outside and moving.
Add in Summer Camps
Summer camps can be a great mutually beneficial option to keep your kids busy this summer. Camps give kids something fun to do while giving you kid-free time.
There are multitudes of camps available for all kinds of interests. You can find full-day and half-day camps that focus on topics such as:
These are just a few of the types of topics you’ll find covered by day camps. If your child is old enough to get away, a summer camp is a great option. They are often offered by schools or local community centers and can vary in cost. Overnight camps also provide an exciting get-away for your older children.
If paid summer camps aren’t in the budget, look at your local library to see what summer programming they have available. Many libraries offer a host of classes, story times, book clubs and play times for kids. If you don’t have phone calls or video conferences, you can work from the back of the room while your kids engage in meaningful activities.
TV Is Okay
If all else fails, quiet time in front of the TV is not the end of the world. As a work-from-home parent, sometimes you just need to do what you need to do to get your work done. Turn down the lights, put on a family movie and let the kids engage with a favorite show while you take a call, write an email, or get any number of the tasks on your to-do list checked off.
Summer is a great time of the year. The memories made during summer are some of the best memories of childhood. You have more time with your children and can make the most of the precious time you have while your kids are at home.
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