Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Keeping Boys Busy

Are your boys driving you crazy yet? (More than the usual crazy, I mean.)

Summer is a challenging time for many parents, especially working parents who are used to sending their kids to school all day. Homeschool parents, in general, are used to having their kids around, but they too face a new set of challenges in the summer. Institutionally-schooled kids, for instance, are around -- which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your neighborhood.

As a homeschooling, single mom, I'm well aware of the challenges on both sides of the spectrum. I completely, 100% get the desire to sign your kid up for every single available activity, just so he'll be out of the house. I need time to work, and it's hard to work with kids underfoot. But I also know that signing the boys up for activities they hate won't help their development one bit. So I refuse to sign the boys up for summer school "just because," even though it's a childcare steal. ($20 for four weeks of five-day a week, 8-12 education/babysitting.)

That said, it's hard to keep the boys busy. I'm not anti-TV or computer, but I don't want to the kids sitting in front of a screen eight hours a day. So what do we do for fun?

I need activites that 1) keep the boys engaged for hours and 2) take up little of my time. With those criteria in mind, I created this Keep Your Kids Occupied in the Summer article for healthline.com. My five top keep-'em-busy ideas are:

  1. Birdwatching. While none of my kids are avid bird watchers, this idea was inspired by Boy #2's previous passion for butterflies. That kid spent two whole summers catching and categorizing butterflies, and the rest of us thoroughly enjoyed his hobby as well.

  2. Gardening. My boys have been gardening with their dad for years. My oldest, age 13, has been selling produce at our local farmers' market for about that long. This year, for the first time, I planted a a garden behind my house with my five-year-old. It's not much, but he sure has fun watching our plants grow!

  3. Building. Some parents are understandably leery about letting their boys work with tools, but few things occupy my boys' hands and minds as well as a building project. Boy #4, age 5, recently built his very own boat! (I'll post a picture later.)

  4. Messy Art Party. This idea -- which involves a fair amount of parental prep -- is great way to get boys interested in the arts. What better way to introduce art and artists than to let your boys get dirty?

  5. Bowling. Have you signed up for Kids Bowl Free yet? If not, do! It's not entirely free (you still need to spring for bowling shoes), but it's a great option for rainy days. We've already gone once this summer.

What about you? What are some your favorite keep-'em-busy activities?

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