It’s the summer holidays, and the kids are home (gasp! The horror!). Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or working in a job or business, the summer holidays are one of the banes of a mother’s existence. The reason for this is simple: you will need ways to keep your children occupied during the summer holidays.
As a career mom, you will probably have to deal with getting a babysitter to be with them while you are at work or have them registered in a daycare facility. The potential nervous breakdown that comes with this is a topic for another article.
If you are a stay-at-home mom, you may not have the option of getting daytime care? So how do you manage things, keep the children occupied and your sanity…winks…intact?
This article shares seven ways to keep your children occupied during the summer holidays that will also keep you from having a nervous breakdown.

How to keep your children occupied during the summer holidays

  1. Let them be bored

Sounds counter-intuitive, right? I know! However, experts say boredom is essential for learning creativity! Letting your children be bored is a great way to keep them occupied. If you leave them to their own devices, they will find ways to stay busy as they learn to play independently and be creative.

A caveat, though. To accomplish this, you have to be ready to ‘close your eyes’ to whatever mess they make while keeping themselves busy. An alternative is to provide them with a space where they can play and make as much mess as possible.

However, if your kids are anything like mine, that space may not work for them, as they will get bored with it quickly and want to move on to other areas in the house. They especially love playing in areas that are of proximity to me. For example, if I am busy in the kitchen, they will make the kitchen their base for the period I am present there. As soon as I move to another area of the house, they follow me to the next location and so on. So the safest bet is to let them make the mess and show them how to pick up after themselves when they are done. That is what I do with my children. I do not get results 100% of the time, but they will get it with consistency.

  1. Plant a garden

This might sound a bit like a cliché, but I assure you, it works wonders! I recently got it into my head to start my own kitchen garden where I can access fresh vegetables for everyday use. Now, I know that when you hear “kitchen garden” for the average Nigerian, what comes to mind is a tiny space on a piece of land where you can cultivate vegetables for home use. However, planting a kitchen garden is not solely dependent on having a piece of land. You can have a kitchen garden wherever you are, even if it is a one-room apartment. As long as there is a bit of window space in your kitchen, you are good to go.

You can have a kitchen garden wherever you are, even if it is a one-room apartment.

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What do you need?

Just get some seeds, some honest-to-goodness loamy soil, and a container for planting, and you are well on your way to having your kitchen garden. Now, the container does not necessarily have to be something fancy. So if you are thinking you need to buy planting pots or some other thing, you can just stop right there. You can use anything as a container – old tires, old buckets, or even regular shopping bags (those bagco bags you used to transport your yams and foodstuffs from the market. Yes, those).
I will be using some plastics and buckets I have around the house. I have got my loamy soil and my seeds. I was even lucky enough to get my hands on some manure – some good ol’ cow dung! Yes! It works wonders on vegetables. I will be setting things up in a matter of days. I promise to keep you updated on its progress.

Now, one thing I am looking forward to is the fact that my boys will be of tremendous “help” to me while I get the garden started. Yes, help is in quotes because I know we will have soil littering everywhere, hands and fingernails caked in soil, and clothing browned by soil. I know it will be a beautiful time of bonding and learning with them. But, I also solemnly swear not to lose it when I see them getting a bit too enthusiastic with the soil for my comfort…..winks.

I am looking forward to it!

  1. Consider summer classes

Another way to keep the kids busy is to register them for summer classes. My children’s school opened for classes for three weeks out of break time. I enrolled my older son, as the baby is too young to start school yet. He goes for about four hours a day. That gives me four hours to do things that I would find difficult to do if the boys were around, such as getting some much-needed sleep or downtime, working on an article, or meeting a deadline.

Another thing to note is that the summer classes do not need to be strictly academic. I know a mom who does not believe in registering her kids for summer coaching. Instead, she takes advantage of the summer to engage her children in extracurricular activities. For one summer, she arranged for her older child to learn to drum, and for this summer, she arranged for him to learn swimming. Personally, I am not a fan of academics during the summer break, and this summer will most likely be the last that my child spends learning academics. There will be enough time for him to do that during the school year. So you can arrange for your children to learn something new during the summer that is not strictly academic. It could be learning a new language, a new game, or like my friend, a new activity like swimming, baking, sewing, or even art classes.

Summer classes do not need to be strictly academic.

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  1. Spend some time outdoors

If you feel like you have all been cooped up inside for too long, spend some time outdoors. Go for a walk around your neighborhood. If there is a park nearby, dress up and take the children there for a play date at the park. If there is a zoo around where you stay or not too far from where you reside, take the children there. Let them spend the day with the wonders of nature. It will be fun, educational, and reinvigorating for all parties concerned.

  1. Start a book club

If your children are old enough to read books, the summer is the best time to get them into the habit of reading if they did not have it before. Get age-appropriate books, have them read, and engage them in discussions about what they have read. You may not be able to take your children to see the world during the summer, but you can definitely bring the world to them through books.

How do I know if a book is age-appropriate for my child?

According to Common Sense Media, rating a book requires that you not only consider whether it is age-appropriate, but you should also consider whether it is developmentally appropriate.  The reason for this is that children develop at varying rates and what my four-year-old preschooler is doing may be more advanced than what your child of the same age is doing. For this reason, you cannot put your trust in a book publisher’s grading. Their grading is generic and does not take the individuality of children into consideration. Thus, it behooves you to take the time to go through the materials your children will be reading before you allow them to read. 

To determine the appropriateness of the book for your child, consider the quality, educational value, message, and role model in it, VSL (violence, sex, and language), and DDS (drinking, drugs, and smoking). 

What are the age categories for children’s books?

Publishers basically have six categories of children’s books. They are:

  • Board books: their target audience is 0 to 3 years old and they are typically filled with pictures with a maximum word count of 300. A great example of this is Dada by Jimmy Fallon
  • Picture books: their target audience is 3 to 8 years old, and while they are also filled with pictures, their word count is usually between 250 to 1000 words. A great example is The Rabbit Listened by Corry Doerrfeld.
  • Early readers: target audience is 5 to 8-year olds, and the word count is maximum of 2000. An example is Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff.
  • Chapter books: target audience is between ages 6 to 9, or 7 to 10. The word count is between 8500 to 12000, and can go up to 20,000 for older readers. An example is Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows.
  • Middle grade: targeted at ages 8 to 12 with a word count of 25,000 to 50,000. A great example is Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. See this book? I read and enjoyed it – and I did so when I was in my twenties. 
  • Young adult: targeted at ages 12 upwards with a word count of about 75,000. A great example is To all the boys I’ve loved before by Jenny Han.

Now, I understand that it may be challenging to get books from Amazon because of our location and the bias the international market has for us. However, you can visit OkadaBooks or Bambooks and check out their collections, as they both feature Nigerian and African authors majorly. If you would prefer the books I mentioned (which are my opinions and not authoritative statements), you can visit here to search for them. They have tons of books that you can access freely. You can thank me later.

  1. Learn to dance

My 15-month old toddler is a dancer – as in, the boy can literally dance for Africa! I, on the other hand, have practically two left feet when it comes to dancing. However, I am not letting that stop me. Spending time dancing with your children provides you with a great opportunity to bond with your kids while doing silly things and at the same time getting in some workout for yourself. Win-Win!

  1. Paint! Get out the paint and go crazy with it.

Yes, this is one of those activities that can increase your stress levels when looking at the amount of mess it generates. The mess aside, though, painting is a great way to destress, plus when you do it with your children, you spend time bonding with them. To reduce the stress you may feel due to the mess, earmark a space in your living room where the kids can make a mess and keep water handy for easy washing up.

If you still find that you can’t stand the thought of the mess painting will make, you can go for drawing and coloring. Get printouts of traceable art, a packet of crayons, and let them go wild with it. Don’t worry. Coloring is a great way to relax even for teenagers. You just have to convince them it’s a really cool thing to do!

Young mister with his books

In conclusion, relax and enjoy the moments you share with your children. You only have so much time to make lasting memories with them. Before you know it, they will all be grown and leading their separate lives, and you will find yourself wondering where the time went. So take the time to enjoy this stage of life with them while you still can!

P.S: Do you have any more suggestions on how to keep your children occupied during the summer holidays? Please share in the comments section.

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