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Mid-Summer Madness

How to guide on keeping the kids entertained during the summer months without losing your sanity.

Today, Sustainability in the Suburbs takes a different turn. It is the middle of summer, your kids are getting restless, and parents everywhere are wondering: How will I sustain my sanity until school starts?

It’s normal. It’s OK. And it’s going to get a little better right now. Here are some great ideas that combine fun, learning, low cost, and doing something that is even a little "green." You may have heard these ideas before, but don’t pass them over. Look for the parent perk to help you retain your sanity.

You don’t need to spend money or resources on brand new books and videos when you can get an endless supply for next to nothing. There are few better examples of reusing than borrowing books from the library. Encourage reading and reusing all at once.

And here’s the parent perk: every Monday from 4-5 p.m. there is a free book discussion group. One week is for second and third graders, the next for fourth and fifth graders. Pre-register online here. Or, every Friday from 1-3 p.m. the library offers a game day, with Wii, Playstation, and board games. No pre-registration needed, and kids eight and older can take part without a parent.

Think about it: one or two hours of free time to walk down Main Street (alone), grab a coffee, buy something for dinner at , get that overdue haircut, or just sit outside and DO NOTHING!

Visit a local nature center: Instead of a day fighting the crowds at Great America, consider an attraction that celebrates nature and educates us about our environment. Schedule a group tour at . Put together a group of eight or more of your kids' friends, and for $20-25 total, you can put them in the hands of a center tour guide for a one-hour tour, walk, or demonstration on a host of topics, according to interests and age group. Go online here for a list of the programs.

Here’s the parent perk: You can plan this outing according to your schedule. Picnic facilities are available too, so if you organize this with another parent, one could drop off, while the other could bring the snacks and take everyone home, giving you a few hours of blissful quiet time! Then, trade off with the other parent for another date.

After all, summer isn’t about fancy trips or pricey plans; it’s about spending time together, appreciating books, nature, AND getting a little free time for yourself, too.

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