Mom of Tweens: How to keep your tweens busy without summer camp

Photo Credit: Jen SingerPhoto Credit: Jen SingerAt some point, probably about two weeks after school lets out, your tween may utter the two most dreaded words of summer break: "I'm bored."

If you don't want (or can't afford) the structured keep-em-busy activities of summer camp, how will you fill the rest of the summer's 14-hour days…about 980 hours total?

Older tweens are often too mature for babysitters but too young to hang out by hemselves. Unlike preschoolers, you can't trick them into believing that folding laundry is a fun afternoon activity, and the lure of the TV, the computer and the video game player can be very strong.

But before you frantically start dialing summer camp directors, consider these tips for keeping your tween happily busy this summer:

  • Back their small business. Summertime provides your tween with all sorts of ways to earn money in your neighborhood while simultaneously keeping them busy. They can pet sit for vacationing neighbors, landscape, clean houses and serve as mother's helpers. They can set up a lemonade stand or a bake sale at the end of your driveway or in front of your apartment. They'll learn how to price items and promote their goods all while staying busy.
  • Make your own water park. Even if you don't have a pool, your kids can stay cool in your yard or driveway. Set up the sprinkler and the Slip n Slide, fill up a kiddie pool and hold a water balloon fight. Keep the kids busy creating a refreshing obstacle course on hot days. Be sure to ask the neighbors to donate snacks and drinks for the oodles of kids you'll no doubt attract. Or, let the kids charge a small entrance fee to cover costs.
  • Let them catch it on film. Turn your kids into journalists by letting them keep tabs on summertime either through a homemade community newsletter or an invitation-only blog. They can interview neighbors and friends and write up their stories. Let them use an inexpensive digital camera or someone's old camcorder to add visuals to their creations. The need for more content will keep them entertained all summer long.
  • Change the scenery. After a few weeks at home, their bikes, basketballs and board games might seem ho-hum. Plan some mid-summer day trips to give them something to look forward to during the long summer break. Head to the beach, a museum, a ballgame or an amusement park. If you've got room, bring along a friend for each of your kids to cut down on the "She started it!" complaints.
  • Have a progressive playdate. If you've ever heard of progressive potlucks, it's when neighbors move from house to house, eating an appetizer at one house, salad at the next, and so on. Do the same with a playdate. Ten kids play at your house for an hour, and then move to the next and so on. Your tweens have something new to do at each house, and the parents all get a much needed break.

Related links from Good Housekeeping:

Celebrate Family All Year Round
10 Things to Do on a Rainy Day
Happiness I Learned from a Child
What's Your Organizing Style?
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