School's out. They're bored. You're stressed.
So make like a parent: Take charge and create a little fun - for everyone.
Get your plans in place the night before, set up the kids in the morning, supervise as needed and see what magic happens. Here are some ideas from current books:
-Make a "cave" by hanging a blanket over a card table. Tuck one side up to be a door and throw in supplies like toys and a snack. You've got "deluxe toddler accomodations," Roni Cohen Leiderman and Wendy Masi say in "Gymboree's 365 Activities You and Your Toddler Will Love" (Key Porter, 2007).
Divided into four sections from birth to 30 months, this book covers a lot of short, simple ideas. Some are obvious, but leafing through it on a rainy day and looking at its bright illustrations could provide the inspiration to keep the TV off.
YOUNGER ELEMENTARY KIDS
-Sworn off long-range travel until the kids are older? Take them on a tour of their hometown instead. Get a map, pick up brochures from a local travel office and see the sights and sites like visitors do, says Joanne O'Sullivan in "101 Things You Gotta Do Before You're 12!" (Lark Books, 2007).
While her book is aimed at children, many activities could be fun for the whole family. Most call for parental partnering, travel or some cash (see a Shakespeare play, visit a tidal pool, etc.). Kids will have fun putting the accompanying stickers on activities as they check them off.
OLDER ELEMENTARY KIDS
-Sure, lemonade is always a good seller on a hot day. But if you want to make a little more money, tap into current food trends and sell preservative-free, low-sugar lemonade or sweets made with natural and healthy ingredients, advise Arthur Bochner and Rose Bochner in "The New Totally Awesome Business Book for Kids" (Newmarket, 2007).
Written for older kids or young teens, the book covers the basics of how to run a business, including accounting and marketing, and offers some small business ideas.
-Ask your daughter to teach you one of the crafts that's the rage among her friends, like how to make a friendship bracelet. "This activity has the added bonus of giving your daughter the pride of knowing that there's something she can do better than her hero," Joe Kelly says in "The Dads & Daughters Togetherness Guide" (Broadway Books, 2007).
Kelly covers both spontaneous activities and larger projects, many of which sound like fun - even for mothers and sons.
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