Snopocalypse 2019 had you praying to the gods of summer. You swore upon your children's own lives that you would never again complain about the heat if the snow would just stop. While being faced with walls of snow for an extended period was tough, staring down the barrel of months of keeping the kiddos entertained while you attempt to adult is legitimately daunting. Summer should be filled with quality family time, outdoor adventures and days filled with free play for the little ones. As simple and dreamy as it sounds, real life gets in the way. The following parenting summer hacks that will help you avoid the pitfalls of the season.
Screen Time Hacks:Managing screen time is a struggle for parents year-round. But the summer months are extra challenging with the kids home all day and in need of entertaining. The following are some hacks that will help reduce the allure of screen time and the number of tantrums thrown when you tell the kids it's time to turn off their devices.
• Keep screen time scheduled and consistent: Set specific times throughout the day when the kids can indulge in screen time. Be consistent with both the time and duration they are allowed. Children love routine, and when they know what to expect and when to expect it, tantrums diminish.
• Try audio entertainment: Road trips and downtime don't have to be dominated by video games and shows. Audiobooks and podcasts are a fantastic form of entertainment that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Check out e-books from Deschutes Public Library or purchase a subscription to Audible. There are also a variety of family-friendly podcasts like NPR's "Wow in the World."
• Don't take pics with your phone: You open your phone to use the camera, then you see that you have a text you have to return. When you finally take the perfect Instagram-worthy photo (after 20 tries), you have to edit it, post it and tag all of your loved ones. An hour later you are done. Consider taking fewer photos and living in the moment more. If you want to snap some pics, make it fun for the whole family. Bring a Polaroid and watch your kids' faces light up as they watch the images develop. Or, purchase a point and click and wait until the kids are all tucked in bed to download and share the day's events.
• Set a good example: Your kids want to be like you. Be a good mentor and limit your own (unnecessary) screen time.
• Make screen time a family activity: The digital world is like the untamed wild west. The best way to keep your kids safe is to monitor their online time. Play video games with your kids (during the allotted time). Turn T.V. time into movie night.
• Offer good alternatives: The best way to reduce screen time is to offer alluring alternatives. What is even more exciting than Fortnite? Swimming? Miniature golf? Find a way to make your kids' favorite activities accessible at home.
Entertainment hacks:Keep the kids busy and amused with these awesome parenting hacks:
• Backyard games: Fill your backyard with off-line games that get the wiggles out. Purchase or build a cornhole set. Croquet will keep the kids busy for hours on end. Keep items like balls and hula hoops accessible throughout the day.
• Water play: Touch tubs filled with water, kiddie pools and slip and slides make summer days pass quickly!
• Art Everywhere: Keep arts and craft supplies on hand and easily accessible. Watercolor paints are perfect for outside play. Kid-safe scissors, paper, crayons and glue keep little hands and imaginations occupied.
• Turn chores into a part time job: Engage kids in daily chores by turning house or yard work into a part-time job. Have older kids ask friends, family members and neighbors if they need help with odd jobs. It's never too early for kids to learn the value of a dollar.
• Volunteer: Kids can learn the importance of giving back to their community through volunteer work. Volunteer Central Oregon, volunteercentraloregon.galaxydigital.com, is an online resource that helps match potential volunteers by age and interest to opportunities.
Hacks for outdoor fun:• Freeze aloe in ice cube trays for an easy way to instantly cool sunburns.
• Keep baby powder on hand for quick and easy removal of sand after a day at the beach.
• Buy gallons of apple cider vinegar and keep it on hand to treat sunburns, poison ivy, bug bites and warts. It also can be used as a household cleaner and it helps fight off colds and whitens teeth.
• Reduce packing for long trips by keeping your car stocked with the most important supplies. Use zip lock baggies to store stuff like sunscreen, first-aid supplies, and extra sets of clothes.
• Protect your next campfire experience from mosquitoes by adding a bundle of sage to the burn.