Summer vacation is just around the corner, and moms of young children, here is what I say to you: be prepared!
Now. I am not prepared at all. My friends all have camps and classes and swim teams and all sorts of exciting activities lined up for their kids. Over here, not so much. I’m thinking Vacation Bible School hopping may be in our future. Kidding! I would never do that. I mean, I would probably never do that, or I would only do it at, like, two or three churches, or maybe four, depending on whether or not I’m required to volunteer.
But when VBS isn’t in session, a mom’s got to get creative on those long afternoons when it’s too hot to go outside and play, and everyone’s feeling a little stir-crazy and bored. Here are a few activities to keep in your back pocket:
Make your own Moon Sand! If you’ve never heard of Moon Sand you either 1) do not have small children, or 2) are lucky. Moon Sand is the devil, and anyone who gives it to your child as a birthday gift is no friend at all. It’s incredibly messy and horrible to clean up. You can’t wait to make some of your own now, right? No, really, you should give this stuff a go because it will keep your kids busy for a good 45 minutes, maybe even longer. You probably have the ingredients on hand, and the clean-up for the homemade stuff is way easier than for the evil store-bought brand.
Homemade Moon Sand
5 cups flour
1 cup baby oil
Mix together. Play!
The dough comes together very easily and quickly becomes a silky-smooth moldable sand, perfect for squeezing and forming and building little sandcastles. My kids loved this stuff, and it kept pretty decently in a sealed container for a few weeks.
Ice Cream in a Bag
1 cup heavy cream (you could also use half and half)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup coarse salt (I used kosher salt, and it was fine)
Quart-sized resealable plastic bag
Gallon-sized resealable plastic bag filled halfway with ice
Dump your cream, sugar and vanilla into your quart-sized bag and seal tightly. Shake it up and mix it well. Place inside your gallon-sized bag with the ice and salt. Seal. Set the timer for eight minutes and shake your bags. This takes forever. Your kids will tire of it after about 45 seconds, and you will spend the remaining 7 minutes and 15 seconds shaking. But once you remove the quart-sized bag and rinse it off with cold water (you want to get all the salt off the bag), you will have ice cream! Pretty tasty ice cream, too. My kids were fascinated by this activity and loved being able to eat the fruits of their (ahem, MY) labor.
Paint with shaving cream! This activity is pretty self-explanatory. You take some shaving cream, drop in a few drops of food coloring, mix, and let your kids have at it. I mixed up three different colors and threw my kids in the tub with the stuff. They loved it, and it bought me a good half hour on the phone with nobody bothering me. Be warned, my kids got some of the colored shaving cream on the painted beadboard on my bathroom walls, and it left a few marks I was unable to remove. No fun. Next time, we’ll do this outside in the baby pool.
Here’s hoping these ideas buy a few minutes of peace for a few families this summer. Happy, engaged, busy kids make for more peaceful days at home.
(Betsy Swenson is a stay-at-home mother to three and contributing writer to the Slidell Independent. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)