By Guest Blogger Ginny Olson, author of the blog

Summer vacay is winding down. Which means BOREDOM amongst the younger set is winding up!

If your people are suddenly allergic to the pool, here’s your go-to list of TEN free ways to spend these final summer days.

When all else fails, take ‘em to Target to raid the dollar bin for school supplies. Not really free, but, hey, it’s a legit excuse to go to Target.

  1. Stay at home.

Let the kids play with all the toys they’ve accumulated during life. Bonus: make them clean up afterwards – that’ll take up at least 30 minutes of your day…

  1. Go to the park.

If #1 makes you itchy (because hashtag mess), there’s always the great outdoors. Like your own backyard. Or the park around the corner with lots of glorious shade trees to keep the littles from whining too much about the heat.

Entice them to build a fairy house/fort/cage for small animals/castle/monument from found objects. Then send them on a treasure hunt for said small animals to cage. While you read a book.

  1. Make popsicles.

Trigger warning: this also falls under the “mess” category.

Corral the kids into the kitchen and hand them knives to chop up that watermelon you got from the neighbor down the street. Then fill up your ice cube trays with the fruity chunks along with a little water. Cover the tray with plastic wrap, jab a popsicle stick into each slot, and put ‘er in the freezer for a couple hours. Voila, HEALTHY treats!

Note: to avoid mess, assemble (and consume) outdoors.

  1. Play board games.

Inside or on the back porch. (Does anyone else hate the self-esteem bursting Chutes & Ladders? Just me?)

  1. Visit the library.

Take a trip to the library for a free class or story time. And get your kids library cards while you’re at it – they will feel SO GROWN UP. Plus, they can stock up on “free” books and movies to keep them out of your hair for the rest of the week. (Or at least for the next 20 minutes.)

  1. Go for a walk and pick up trash.

Don’t forget the gloves, multiple trash bags to separate actual trash from recyclables, and HAND SANITIZER. Add in a discussion on climate change and you’re mom of the year. Because: summer science lesson.

Turn it into a scavenger hunt for extra fun: Who can find an empty can of Red Bull? What about a dirty diaper? And how about an old hat?

  1. Redefine water play.

Head to your local splash park. Or go old school with a sprinkler and garden hose. Bonus: the kids can water the plants while they’re at it.

  1. Organize a parade.

Reach out to other families and host a parade. Let the kids raid your art supplies or linen closet or box of last year’s Halloween costumes to get festive.

You can waste even more time with a bike – or DOG – decorating contest. Get the kids to vote on the winner while you direct traffic or take a nap. For prizes, I’m sure you can find some neglected junk the kids picked up at that birthday party last month.

  1. Take a day trip.

To the mountains, beach, lake. Or just head downtown. Who knows what awaits when you and the small ones put on explorer hats and go spelunking through the nooks and crannies of that vintage clothing store you’ve always wondered about.

  1. Let them wash all the things.

Arm your kids with different sized paint brushes and a GIANT VAT OF SOAPY WATER. Tell them to “Go at it! Paint all the things! Preferably outside!”

Direct their attention to that fence that’s in need of a good clean. Suggest they send their bikes through a homemade “car wash.” Cajole them into using the leftover soap on themselves – and check “bath time” off your chore list for the evening.

Bonus: Tour the pet store.

But only if you’re willing to say “NO” a lot. Or you’re willing to get another pet. (I hear Target also sells pet supplies.)

Ginny Olson is the author of the blog, a love letter to moms, both new and seasoned, journeying from sleep deprived to joy-arrived. When not riding-herd over two small male children, Ginny runs the career strategy firm, Brand Elements Coaching, where she helps professionals navigate the job market and successfully undertake career pivots. She also teaches Marketing for Nonprofits at the local university.

Ginny’s writing has appeared in GLAMOUR magazine, the Greensboro News & Record, Piedmont Parent, and Triad Moms on Main, as well as several mom blogs. You can follow MothersRest on Facebook.

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