By Jodie Lynn
My brother's children, ages seven and nine, one girl and one boy, will be visiting us for two weeks this summer while the parents go on vacation. They are much more active than my two kids who love to read, research and walk in the park. I'd love some family- and kid-friendly tips to help get these four kids entertained and having fun but not going overboard with expensive novelties.
ANSWER FROM READER:
When my sister's children come to visit us each summer, we try to have various activities already planned for the two weeks that they're here. My children are six and eight, and my niece and nephew are seven and nine. Although there is three years difference between the youngest and the oldest, everyone seems to have fun. One activity that they all enjoy is swimming. Water games are a big hit as well as taking them to different places to swim. Some are outdoor pools while others are inside, like the YWCA or YMCA. Since this is their favorite thing to do, I buy odd and unusual blow-up toys, floats, water balls, etc. on sale at the end of each summer. By putting them away, they are a nice surprise and save me plenty of money. If you haven't tried swimming as one of your ideas, take them a couple of times and see how they like it. Some of the pools have coupon packages that if purchased ahead of time will also save you money. - Lynda Dickens in San Diego, CA
Since your brother's children have been used to busy schedules, they may welcome a chance to slow down a little for the two weeks that they are visiting. When they get there, ask them to think of some things that they would like to do. Do the same for your own kids. Tell your niece and nephew to help you think of some slower-paced activities and ask your own children to think of some faster-paced activities that they might like to try. To be sure that the ideas are within your budget, give them a dollar amount to consider for each outing. You may have to call around for a few estimated costs, but at least you will have a more accurate idea of what you can expect to spend. You may be surprised to find out that between the four of them, they come up with a relatively balanced schedule, have fun, sharpen their math skills and not cost nearly as much as if things were not planned.
CAN YOU HELP?
I have a five-year-old son who has way too many sport activities on his plate. It seems like his dad is trying desperately to groom him for some type of all-star athlete. If I try to bring any calmness to the situation, all we end up doing is arguing, which then upsets my son. How can I get his dad, my ex-husband, to slow down and just let our son be a kid?
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