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     Since we are barreling into those final weeks of summer vacation, my kids have decided that all the things have already been done and that those things are now “boring”. Perhaps your kids are like mine and they have become bored, as well. Perhaps you are like me and you smack them upside the head. Or perhaps you have more self-control than I.

     Good for you.

     Either way, I have compiled a list of end of summer must-do's for the “bored” child and the smacking parent.

1) Homemade slip-and-slides: This has become a particular favorite in the Costa home. To say we have experimented with variations of this is an understatement. In fact, I'm pretty sure we've never done it the same way twice. Key ingredients for this to work well are water, dish soap, and some form of slippery surface. Our most popular variation has been securing a large tarp to the end of their swing set slide. I douse the slide and tarp with soap and water, do the same thing to the kids (and even lather up their swim suits), and I spray them with the hose as they whiz past me on their way down the path. They literally slide a good 5 feet past the 20-foot tarp! And the best part? Their swim suit crotches will lather up like an out of control yeast infection, making it the perfect time to take embarrassing photos and threaten to show their future boy/girlfriends.

2) Obstacle courses: My kiddos started building these one day when they had a few friends over and, I gotta say, it was genius. They heaped bowls with water balloons, filled buckets with ice water, attached the sprinkler, and created pathways across the yard that each person had to run through while people literally chucked all forms of water at them. They seriously had just as much fun building the course as they did running through it!

3) Read for an hour each day: One hour of quietness… they can choose any book they want, and it doesn't matter how much they read as it matters how long they read. Trust me. You'll thank me for this one.

4) Create a play/skit/dance/song to perform: This is where your creative and outgoing child will shine! But even if your kid is a dud (like my son), he'll still have fun if you tell him that he can charge admission for the show. BUT I refuse to pay for a show of poor quality. I will demand a refund if it is not creative, not artistic, done with a negative attitude, and if it's under 15 minutes. Props and costumes are a great way to help them think outside of the box AND keep them busy for longer than 5 minutes. THIS is called Winning, folks.

5) Make your own board game: My children are ALWAYS asking me to play board games with them. However, I don't have the time to play games like it's my job. A great way to keep the bored ones busy and the smacking ones from smacking is to have the kids build their own board games. This way they spend plenty of time working on the construction of the game while the parents get their things done, and they will enjoy it even more when you can sit down later to play something that they developed all on their own.

6) Experimental Cooking, A.K.A. “Mini Chopped”: If you've seen the show, you know where I'm going with this. Give the kids each a set number of random cooking ingredients, set the timer for however long you feel is age-appropriate, and then let them go! For my kids, the stove is out of the question. But the microwave is fair game (as long as I'm supervising… did you know that kids will attempt to put all kinds of metal objects in the microwave? Even after telling them 45 times that this will blow our house up? Forty. Five. Times.) In the end, have them taste both dishes and vote. If there needs to be a tie-breaker, you can offer up your taste buds (if you dare) and cast the final vote.

7) Crazy Races: We all remember elementary gym class, right? That's where we learned how to skip, crab walk, bear crawl, compete in three-legged competitions, and slither like a worm. Sadly, gym class these days is all about sports (blah) and our kids are growing up in a world without the crab walk. You guys, this is a travesty. My son is quite literally the most uncoordinated human alive. He NEEDS the crab walk! And, since he's older and bigger and (amazingly enough) faster than my daughter, he hears the word “race” and immediately thinks that he'll win. However, having them do “Crazy Races” evens the playing field… and allows for parents to videotape their children looking absurd. YouTube, anyone?

8) Bury them in sand: If I have to tell you why this is amazing, then you are not my kind of people. Hello. They Are IMMOBILE. And if they keep yacking too much, just place the sand bucket over their head. Prepare to love me, Guys.

9) Hose Tag: I “invented” Hose Tag this summer as a way to keep my children and their friends from melting. It was sooooo hot and they were sooooo grouchy because of it. I couldn't blame them, so I picked up the hose and told them to start running. I counted to 15 and shot the first person I saw (with the jet stream, of course). That person was then frozen and couldn't be unfrozen unless another child ran and slid under their legs. I, as the shooter, would have to count to 15 again before I could spray anyone else. It's fun because they get cooled off and release some pent-up, heat-inducing energy…. And because you can shoot cold water at them. Everybody wins!

     I hope these ideas help you and your children as you anxiously await the not-so-distant sounds of school buses rumbling toward your doorstep. Prayerfully we all make it to the end of summer without hearing the words “I'm booooored” one more time! And if all else fails, tell them to drop and give you 20.

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