Dear Crabby, How Do I Keep My Kids Busy During the Summer?

Dear Crabby,

HELP! School is out this week and I am dreading the chorus of ‘Mom. I’m boooored,’ I’m sure to hear on the first day of summer vacation. Any thoughts of how I can keep my kids occupied over the next few months?

Wendy Wornout

Dear Wendy Wornout,

I’m sure after nine months with your kids (and thousands of others) any teacher reading your question is laughing while printing out a boarding pass for their upcoming Caribbean cruise. Of course, back in my day the solution was simple. After breakfast, our parents kicked us out of the house and told us to go enjoy the fresh air. They really didn’t care what we did as long as we weren’t in the house. We were only allowed to come in to use the bathroom and for meals. Otherwise, it was outside to play ball, swim, and in general, use our imaginations to have fun.

I’ll never forget the time we were playing baseball in some abandoned lot. It was just getting dusk and the street lights were beginning to come on. As was the case most nights, moms began calling in various directions for their kids to come home, get washed up, and go to bed. Now, most kids went running the first time their heard their names. But not my buddy Joe. He kept right on playing. Not even when his mom used his full name did he move. “Joe! Don’t you hear your momma calling for you?” one of other kids asked. “Sure, I hear her. But she hasn’t stomped her foot on the front porch, so I know I still have time,” Joe replied. Ain’t that a hoot? Of course, if parents tried this approach today they’d probably get a visit from social services. And I understand that our society has changed and the world can be a more dangerous place, but I also think sometimes we overthink things. I also think kids today are spending too much time hiding behind all their electronic doo-dads. So, how can you keep your kids from getting bored this summer? My suggestion would be to make them part of the decision-making process. Why should you be the person to plan it all out? Are you their cruise director? Including them in the planning also gives them some accountability. Have them write out what they’d like to do this summer. It can be anything from reading so many books to learning a new skill. Even volunteering or committing to making one new friend are good ideas. And it doesn’t have to be just the kids who do something, you could also plan to do something weekly as a family. Most cities have free music or movies in the park. Even a parade. Why not volunteer to help either with a float or passing out candy? I’d start by looking at your city’s website for any fun summer events they have planned. In July, my city Rochester Hills hosts Wet and Wild Wednesdays. For a small fee, kids can enjoy a bit of entertainment before going down a giant slip and slide. And if July’s weather is anything like June, whew. I’d be game for sliding down the darn thing! And don’t forget your local library. They usually have tons of activities for all ages to participate in. Right now, the Rochester Hills Public Library has adventure kits, which are backpacks you can check out with themes on bird watching, Michigan, and one about the walking dead (pretty sure that’s zombies), and more! My point is, there are plenty of things to do if you know the right places to look. But you also shouldn’t feel like you’re responsible for filling up every hour of your child’s summer vacation time. Sometimes it’s OK not to do anything at all. And while I may be old fashioned and grumpy, I still believe there’s something to letting your kids use their imagination and play. At least until you stomp your foot on the front porch.

Hope this helps and have a great summer!
Dear Crabby

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About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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