4 Ways to Survive the Summer with Kids

by Jennie on June 19, 2015

Cody will be going to First Grade this year and I am SO sad about it. It will change the entire dynamic of our family. I have been home with him since day one and to go places with the younger ones during the school year without him will be just plain WEIRD! Since our summer started I have been having SO much fun exploring the city with the boys and not being on any timetable, especially since I know my days are numbered with my Cody bear starting school in mid August… sigh. On the other hand, having the kiddos home day after day can be EXHAUSTING for us mamas! Our nerves are grated more easily and we just don’t have the patience that we normally do when we get a “break”. I had to come up with some ways for me to keep my sanity this summer and I thought I would share them with you :)

Playdough: The dreaded Playdough… I know, I know. You are saying right now, “How in the world can this save my sanity?! I cringe when my kids ask to get it out and then it takes forever to clean it up!” Well I am here to tell you that play dough can be manageable, at least with my kiddos ages (6 and 3). Start with a play dough bin. Throw all of your play dough toys you have and a plastic tablecloth (you can get them at the dollar store) or a cheapo plastic shower curtain in an empty bin. Next open ALL of your play dough containers and dump them into ONE ziploc bag or tupperware dish with a lid. Yes, I know mix the colors! My boys mix it anyways and it is so hard for them to open up all the lids and get them all back into the containers. That to me takes the longest! Trust me, if you do this your play dough will take 30 seconds to get out, throw your shower curtain over the table and open the ziploc for the kids. Throw the bin on the table and they can have at it. When they are finished, let THEM put all the play dough back in the ziploc and toys back into the container and YOU take the shower curtain and shake the “crumbs” into the garbage.  This will literally provide hours of fun with almost no prep or clean up time. I have a little mini vac and have the boys vaccumm under the table when they are done. Easy peasy!

Playdough made easy

Quiet Bin:  Once Cody stopped napping I still had him in “Quiet Time”. I think we all need down time in our day so I would send him to the play room and allow him to have his own time while mommy has hers :) You can use this bin when YOU need some down time, whether you have another child napping or you need to get through a phone call. I grab things from the dollar store and the dollar target bins to fill ours. Things that won’t make a big mess and that the kids (based off age) can do independently. Ours are filled with color wonder and water painting (low mess factor), coloring pads, dry erase boards, sketch books etc. Fill it with anything you think your kiddos would like. I just grab the bin, set it on the table and it keeps my boys busy for while. 

quiet time bin

Summer Learning: This is my first year to really instill homework in the summer for my Kindergartner and it is HARD for me since I just like to have fun. I think if you plan this out in advance it makes it much more manageable and less stressful for everyone. You can check out how I have organized our homework time and  encourage summer reading in my recent post: 5 Ideas to Encourage Summer Learning.

Create a Bucket List: This is last, but certainly not least! I am a kid at heart and I think I have more fun sometimes than they do exploring our city. I love being on the go and think it can be overwhelming with ALL of the activities going on over the summer to try and narrow down what you might want to do. I suggest sitting down with your kids and making a list of all the things you want to do and can do based off the ages of your kids. There is so much fun to be had in Cincinnati! Here are some great sites I use to help me at the beginning of each summer:

  • Mason Metu, Family Friendly Cincinnati, Hula Frog, Macaroni Kid, 365 Things to do in Cincinnati, Discover Ohio: these are my go to websites which list so many of the activities going on in the tri-state. I usually pick the things that are free and plug them into my calendar so if we happen to be available that day we can go. You can also subscribe to their newsletters and then each week you can get a list of “What’s Happening that Weekend”.
  • Adventure Mom: I love following her website to see what she has found to explore that week. Some are kid friendly and some are for adults. 
  • Adventures Around Cincinnati: I LOVE this book and so many ideas for summer fun places to visit. You can read about it here

I have a running list of things or places I see on Facebook or that people talk about in my notes on my phone and have been adding to it for a while now. This is my life bucket list I guess you can say. I look at that also when making our decision. We have our go to places- the pool, KI and the zoo, but I told the boys we can pick one new thing each week to explore.

Here are a few ideas from our bucketlist for this summer:

  • Smale Park: there are SO many new kid friendly things to do at Smale from playgrounds and water features to puppet shows and the new Carousel.
  • Newport Aquarium: we have been here before, but they put in a new Shark bridge! We were invited to the opening, but had another commitment that night and I have been dying to go ever since!
  • Movie in the Park: these are always FUN!
  • Alpaca Farm: there is a small one in Mason. We went with our moms group last week. It is a personal farm and is just cool for the kids to look at. 
  • Youngs Dairy: never been but heard it is amazing for the kids!
  • Brookville Indiana Wolf Encounter: Cody is obsessed with wolves so want to check this out for sure.
  • Bowling: Several places offer FREE bowling all summer long for the kids :)
  • Root Beer Stand in Sharonville. Root Beer, Ice Cream and foot longs- YES PLEASE!
  • Brush of Hope Art Class: this is a non-profit which is ran by a mom in my neighborhood. Open art on Fridays and your donations go to a great cause!

There ya have it! Hope these ideas help save your sanity this summer with a house full of active kiddos! I would love to hear what’s on your bucket list and how you survive the summer! 

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