We love kids! But let’s face it, an entire summer with little ones constantly in your space can be, well… challenging. Summer break is full of fun, but it’s also full of sibling squabbles, a marked reduction in the willingness to follow rules or finish chores, and the most dreaded sound of all: “Mom, I’m bored!” It’s enough to turn any parent into a basket case.

Before you start praying for school to start again, check out our Summer Vacation Survival Guide. We rounded up the most common concerns parents have during this time of year and give you some practical suggestions to help solve them. It is possible to enjoy summer vacation without losing your mind. Get ready to love summer again!

Beenke’s Summer Vacation Survival Guide

#1 – Boredom

Children are used to having their school days structured and planned for them. After the initial excitement of summer wears off, they struggle to know what to do with themselves. Having kids whine “I’m so bored!” can get on your nerves really fast. Be prepared with a boredom jar!

Sit down with your kids and think of a host of activities they can do during the summer. Things like paint a picture, go on a scavenger hunt, play on the slip n’ slide, build a fort, or play a board game are all good options. Come up with as many as you can! Then, write each activity on a slip of paper and drop it in the boredom jar. You can even let your kids decorate the jar to make it more fun.

Now it’s time to be a little sneaky and add a few activities of your own to the jar – like read a book, play with a math app, or clean your room. It’s okay, you deserve it. When your kids say they’re bored, have them pick a piece of paper out of the jar and do whatever activity is on it. Boredom solved!

#2 – Childcare

This one’s a doozy! Finding quality childcare during the summer can be tough (and expensive). Whether you work full-time or have a situation come up where you need to find a sitter – fast!  No summer vacation survival guide is complete without childcare. We’ve got a couple of options for you to consider.

Childcare Website or App

Technology can be a beautiful thing. Particularly when it can find recommended, pre-screened babysitters in your neighborhood. Be sure to go with a well-known and established service, like Care.com or Urbansitter. We recommend creating a profile and reviewing/interacting with the available sitters before you actually need one. This way you’ll be familiar with service and (hopefully) have identified some caregivers you’d like to work with ahead of time.

Hire A College Student

Looking for a summer nanny? College students are great for this task! Check with your local college or university. Many students, particularly those in child-centered majors like teaching, early childhood development, etc., are looking to make a little extra cash over the break and their services are available for a very reasonable rate.

Start a Nanny Camp

Think share-a-nanny, for summer only. While it might take a little planning to organize, the goal is to find a few neighborhood families and hire a nanny together. The summer sitter would create a camp-like curriculum, for half the price. The sitter ends up earning more money overall by watching multiple kids. Your children get the benefit of playing with others. It’s a win all the way around!

Swap With Friends

Don’t feel like you have to keep your children entertained all by yourself. Enlist the help of your friends or the parents of your children’s friends. Choose one day a week where you and your friends alternate providing activities for the kids. Depending on the number of parents you enlist, you might score several afternoons free to enjoy yourself.

Day Camps

Summer day camps, especially those with extended hours, are another possible option for summer care. The potential downside being the cost, some camps are expensive. You may want to consider a hybrid approach where you combine family care or babysitters along with camps to create your family’s ideal summer solution (at a more affordable price).

#3 – Sunburn

Nothing can ruin a fun day outdoors faster than a painful sunburn. So don’t let it! When it comes to sunburn, prevention is key. Your first plan of attack is to keep the kiddos out of the summer sun as much as possible. Try covering them up with UV protectant clothing and bring an umbrella or canopy to the beach so they can build sandcastles in the shade. Also, stay inside during the hottest part of the day and always protect sensitive little eyes with UV protective sunglasses.

For when sun exposure is inevitable, cover the kids completely in a natural sunscreen that protects without harmful chemicals. If despite your best efforts, a sunburn does occur, place you child in a cool (not cold) shower or bath and apply cold compresses to the burned area. Make sure you give them plenty of fluids, since sunburn and dehydration can go hand-in-hand. You can also use aloe vera gel or children’s tylenol to help reduce the pain.

#4 – Family Travel

Summer isn’t complete without taking a family trip! But the thought of traveling with kids in tow can be a little daunting. We get it. Kids add a level of complexity to any packing list. What you need is a solid game plan! Arm yourself with some helpful tips for traveling with kids from other moms that have done it successfully. You’ll be prepared for any travel craziness you encounter on your next family adventure.

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#5 – Water Safety

Pools, lakes, beaches… these are all part of the fun that is summer vacation. They can also be dangerous, especially when kids are involved. According to the Centers For Disease Control, some 800 children a year die due to drowning, which is why water safety is an important part of any summer vacation survival guide.

Educate yourself on the best way to keep your kids safe around water. Be sure they wear life vests and other protective gear when needed. If you have a pool or spa at home, be sure it’s appropriately child-proofed. Partner up with family and friends to watch kids while they’re swimming. You don’t ever want them to be in the water unsupervised. Consider enrolling the kids in a summer swim class at a local community pool or YMCA. Teaching your children to swim may save their life (plus it’s a lot of fun!)

#6 – Summer Brain Drain

Did you know that teachers spend, on average, 4-8 weeks every fall reviewing and re-teaching material that students forgot over vacation? It’s true! Some students lose the equivalent of 1-2 months of reading and math skills during summer, and these effects can be cumulative. Don’t let this be your kids. Plan some summer activities designed to keep their brains sharp. We can help! Check out these great ideas to keep your kids learning all summer long.

#7 – Sibling Rivalry

Is it just us, or does sibling rivalry seem to heat up in the summer? Without the structured days of school, your kids spend a lot more time in the same space which means a lot more opportunity for squabbles. If we hear one more chorus of “it’s mine!” or “she keeps looking at me!” we might lose it.

Take heart! You don’t always have to be the referee. In fact, stepping away from this role may be just what your kids need to work out their issues on their own. Next time the fighting starts, try putting the kids on a time-out together until they can each tell you what misstep they personally took to get there. They aren’t allowed to talk about what their sibling did, only their own actions. Many times if the kids see you won’t assign blame to one side or the other, and they both acknowledge what they did to contribute to the fight, the issue ends. Check here for more tips on dealing with sibling rivalry.

Our final summer vacation survival guide tip? Just relax. Try not to over schedule and plan so many activities that things start to feel hectic. Leave room for downtime, for both you and your kids. You’ll be a lot less stressed as a result. Plus, lazy hazy days are what make summer great. So enjoy!!