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I'm a lazy mom. I'm not one to pull craft ideas off Pinterest, not one who remembers to give my kid multi-sensory
summer experiences. I'm the one who groans when her kid asks, "What are we
doing today, Mama?"
He's lucky to leave the house when it's over 90 degrees,
much less have me teach him important milestones like learning to ride a bike
or swim properly. I grew up in an era where parents entertained us by saying,
"Go outside" or "Go call your friend." When all else failed, they sent me to
overnight summer camp.
It's not that I don't love playing with my son; it's
just that I'm rarely very good at coming up with new ideas and don't have his father's endurance or creativity. Surely
some of you are like me, and if so, let me reassure you that there are still
plenty of ways to keep your kids engaged for the remainder of summer without
technology, despite your laziness:
In less than 10 minutes you can
either draw the maze yourself—ideally making it as complex as possible—or get
your kids to do it for you. The goal: Your kid has to navigate the chalk maze
while you sit nearby reading your book. Give them a small reward after each
time through, like two M & Ms, and make them work for more.
Children's natural place of play is outside when the weather is nice, if you can just remember to get them there.
2. Indoor swimming
If you're lucky enough to live near
a local pool that has a shallow end or a kid's section, you would be amazed how
much water soothes the cranky child beast. Water is my go-to for bad moods and
cries of "I'm bored." And now that my son is 7 and knows how to swim, I can
just sit on the sidelines while he has a blast in less than two feet of water.
In lieu of this—assuming you're not in my drought-stricken state of
California—the sprinklers are an amazing time-killer, particularly if you can
throw down some slip-n-slide style plastic, or a small plastic kiddie pool.
3. Paper wars
When my son is utterly bored of all
the perfectly nice toys that clutter his shelves, we can always fall back on
good old fashioned paper. I put his latest favorite preoccupation into a Google
search like so: "Minecraft coloring pages" or "Avengers" and we print a dozen
or so. Then he busies himself cutting them out and often coloring them. By the
time we actually get around to playing with them together, we've usually killed
a good half-hour. Then I squat on my office floor and do my best "Evil Villain"
impersonation. When it's all over, we recycle the whole kit and caboodle.
4. Hallway bowling or kickball
We have a long hallway in my house, but you don't require one for this game. Either we set up a row of plastic bottles and use a softball to "hallway bowl," or we kick the ball back and forth down the hall. This could not be simpler, but it's one of my son's favorite games. If you have empty gallon water bottles, you can take it up a notch and play human Mario Brothers, rolling them down the hall while your kid jumps over them.
Brick-and-mortar bookstores may be
farther and fewer to find, but the ones that remain are a mecca for lazy moms
and kids. Our local bookstore has books, toys and a café, so while I'm
comfortably sipping my café au lait and reading the latest novel, he'll play
with the toys, scope out new book series and inevitably we run into another
kid his age, which makes for spontaneous playdates.
If I ask my son to come out and help
me with the garden, naturally it's a no-go. But if I mention that I'm "going
outside" and just happen to pull some weeds or water, suddenly my son will follow
on his scooter, zip around the yard or ask if he can try the spray
nozzle. Children's natural place of play is outside when the weather is nice,
if you can just remember to get them there.
There's honestly nothing my son loves
to do more than to wrestle with either of his parents. And "wrestling"
mostly means using me as a human jungle gym. Last night he spent 20 minutes
doing somersaults across my back on the bed. At the most, the physical effort I
have to extend is to pull out my tickle fingers or prop him on my knees and "fly"
him in the air. He does most of the actual wrestling and I just pretend to get
my butt "kicked" while he laughs hysterically.
Ultimately, what kids want more than
any toy or experience is quality time with you, and that doesn't have to take
much effort at all.