With summer vacation practically upon us, I have put together a little survival guide of must-haves for those of you with small children. These are my tried-and-true, learned-the-hard-way items that ensure I make it through every summer alive and sane. So far, so good…
1. Popsicles and ice cream. Someone once geniusly suggested training the kids to think the ice cream truck’s music means it’s sold out of ice cream. If yours are young enough to fall for this, I highly suggest it. And then keep a yummy stock of your own treats at home.
2. An inflatable pool. Visiting the pool is great, but it can also be a huge ordeal. I love a cheap plastic pool that sits in the front yard all summer. Classy, it is not, but it occupies the kids for hours and doesn’t require me to suffer in a swimsuit.
3. Water guns. I hate guns with a passion; I won’t buy my kids gun toys or let them play shooting games. But water guns are the exception. The bigger the better.
4. A library pass. Free + air conditioned = Heaven.
5. Arts & crafts projects. You can never have too many. Next time you are at the Dollar Store, stock up on everything you can find and stick it all in a big box. Save for a rainy, or otherwise miserable, day.
6. Sunglasses. I have no idea where all of out sunglasses disappear to, but they just seem to go the way of socks.The more you have available, the better.
7. An indoor tent. A tent provides hours of fun for kids. On a sunny day, it gives shade and respite. On a rainy day, set it up inside and let the kids have a picnic in it. It was hands-down the best investment I made my first summer with three kids.
8. A mother’s helper. Babysitters are great, but expensive. Find an earnest 10-year-old in your neighborhood and pay her to play with your kids. Ten is the perfect age; they are hard working and eager to please, but won’t give you attitude or spend the whole time texting. Plus, if you snag them young, they will feel indebted to you for years to come. Or, so I hope.
9. Sunscreen. Nothing ruins a good time like a sunburn. I think the spray sunscreens are the best invention ever.
10. Sanity-savers for you. I’m partial to Margaritas during the summer, but whatever floats your boat. You’ll need it.
Photo: Jill Smokler