How long does it take until the novelty of summer wears off in your family? A month? A week? A day? Prepare yourself for the inevitable moment when your kids come to you and say, "I'm bored." Try arming yourself with these boredom busters.

Let them learn

. Just because school is out doesn't mean it's time for your children to turn their brains off. On the contrary, summertime offers many opportunities to learn in a very organic way. Make sure everyone has a book to read. Many libraries offer summer reading programs; take advantage of them. Next time you're making s'mores do fractions with the Hershey's chocolate bars. Have them write their summer memories in a journal. Start a family story book and have each child add a chapter to the story. Ask your children to research something that interests them, any topic at all, and write a one-page report on it.

Go outside

. Explore the nature around your house. Watch for birds and see how many you can identify. Put a hula hoop in the middle of the front yard, then try to discover all the wildlife that lives in that small perimeter. Make nature rubbings and save them for making a collage. If you're not too squeamish, let your kids collect bugs.

Get wet

. Nothing beats the heat like having a water day. Keep water balloons, squirt guns and a kiddie pool on hand to pull out when the thermometer rises. Buy some fun sprinklers to run through, or create your own. Use a big sponge to play splash tag or dodge ball - er, I mean dodge sponge. Get out the hose to play limbo, or wiggle it low like a snake and have kids jump over the stream of water.


. Tap into your kids' creative side and try some arts and crafts. Combine painting with another kid favorite - bubbles. Kids can create bubble art. Color the sidewalks with chalk. Make a homemade wind chime, or create a fairy house for your garden.

Field trips

. When you are all going stir-crazy and starting to get on one another's nerves, it's time for a field trip. Have a picnic in the park, visit a local museum, or go to the community pool. Visit a pet store and play with the puppies. Everyone loves a trip to the ice cream parlor. Give your children a couple of bucks and go to the dollar store together.

I remember going to the beach as a family when I was a child. We would spend all day in the water, then we'd build a big bonfire at night. We'd roast hot dogs and marshmallows. I always fell asleep in the car on the ride back home. It's one of my favorite memories. Now that I'm a mom it's an activity I like to do with my own children.

Put them to work

. Well, they asked for it. If your kids say they are bored, then put your minions to work! Go beyond your normal routines and have your children do those small jobs that go neglected for months. They can sweep the front porch, clean the blinds or wipe down the cupboards. At the very least, they can clean their rooms. Tackle big projects together like cleaning the garage or decluttering closets. Working together builds family unity.

Each summer, I enroll my kids in Mother's Happy Home Cleaning School. This is my opportunity to teach them how to do chores and special projects correctly. It ensures that the house is tidy before we head out to enjoy our summer activities. It also helps me keep me sane by not allowing my home to devolve into messiness as the summer progresses.

Don't over-schedule

. It isn't your job to entertain your children every minute of the entire summer. It's OK for kids to be bored once in a while. It gives them an opportunity to use their imaginations and come up with something fun on their own. Children were born to play. Even without your intervention, they won't stay bored for long.

Summer can be a fun and relaxing time for the whole family. You can enjoy your lazy days if you are prepared. What are some of your favorite ways to beat summer boredom?

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