Yeah, sure. Summer's great and everything (no homework and all that), but your schedule's all wonky and the kids are underfoot, not to mention your kitchen counters are sticky from forgotten spills and sweaty kid hands. You need a few tools in your arsenal to get through the rest of summer with the kids around. Here you go! ROUTINES and SCHEDULES The more you can stay on a predictable schedule with your children filled with a variety of activities at a slow pace, the calmer everyone will be. Have a list of pre-planned activities to get your kids through the day. When you stay on schedule, you’ll have nice days. CLEAN UP Having the kids around means dishes will be left scattered around your house along with wrappers and empty water bottles, so best to nip that in the bud. Make it clear to the kids that cleaning up after themselves is mandatory or they will lose a privilege. SUMMER READING Get in the habit of the 20-minutes-a-day requirement with the kids in the morning or just after lunch. If you make it mandatory, it won’t fall by the wayside and might actually become one of the more pleasant activities that happens at your home in summer. MOTHER'S HELPER Your friend’s 16-year-old could use a few extra bucks and you could use another set of hands a few hours in the day. Put two plus two together and you’ve got a plan! EXCURSIONS DO plan on outings with the kids so you can get out of the house! Use the Things To Do calendar in the back of this issueto identify where you’re going to take them and DO it. SCREEN TIME Some kids will veg out all day with video games and movies if you let them. Don’t let them. Realize that there’s a lot more to life. Sit your kids down and have everyone hear from you what acceptable screen time is going to be. Enforcing your rules is the hardest thing of all, but is overall much better for the kids who need and thrive by participating in a wide variety of activities.

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TURN YOUR HOME INTO A KID HANGOUT This may not sound like your kind of fun, but ask yourself, “What is the alternative?” Not knowing where your kids are and how they’re doing? Give in to having kids around! CREATE a place in your house where kids can hang out. Ideally, it should be close by but somewhat removed from you, like the basement or the garage. Furnish it with casual, comfortable seating. STOCK UP on popsicles, drinks and fast snacks. ESTABLISH GUIDELINES so everybody’s clear: no balls in the house; no running with the dogs inside; no girls in boys’ bedrooms, etc., and make a plan for what everybody’s going to do, i.e,. watch a movie, play a game, play Xbox, etc. ENCOURAGE your child to invite kids over. You literally have to tell your kids it’s OK and what you want! MAKE KIDS WELCOME  by being friendly, agreeable and not one to fly off the handle. CO-OP IT If you live in a neighborhood with kids, be crafty and make arrangements with other moms to take turns being the hang-out spot!