A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

You can’t beat THAT with a stick. Really. Don’t.

It’s summertime. Are your kids bored and cranky?

If they are doing things like this:

Or this…

Chances are, your kids are bored and/or undersupervised.

But fret not! Readers of The Bearded Iris Blog have banded together on Facebook to provide a cavalcade of suggestions for what to do to beat the summertime blues.

Mel of Arizona sends her little darlings to Grandma’s for the night when everyone needs a change of scenery (mostly Mel, I imagine.) Bless you, Grandmas of the world!

Kate, who valiantly restricts her kids’ total screen time to 1 hour per day has a rule that anyone who says they’re bored gets a chore. Not only does she not hear any whining anymore, but her kids are composing music… for fun! Kate, I’m not worthy. When you write your parenting book, I want a signed first edition.

Debi says “I gave my two younger kids a bag of 300 waterballoons today – they kept rather busy…..cheap entertainment.” Oh hells yeah. I like your style, Debi!

Lynn from Georgia wrote in that her four kids were scrubbing floors and baseboards yesterday. I love you Lynn. You are an inspiration to us all!

Kate, Ann, and I all employ the “you’re locked outside until further notice” technique. It works like a charm for small periods of time. Just make sure you provide drinking water and sunscreen so that the social workers will have less of a case against you when they arrive on the scene.

But my favorite idea comes from Mary Lou who writes: “Throw 99 pennies out across the yard. Tell them when they find the 100 pennies, they can come back in.” Brilliant!!! Apparently Mary Lou got that gem from some friends who use this trick when they need to score a little “private time.” To which Heather replied, “I’d only need 25 pennies for that.” Pretty sure I woke the dog with my cackling when I read that one.

How about you? What creative suggestions do you have for keeping your kids constructively entertained, out of your hair, and not in juvenile hall or emergency foster care? Let’s hear it!

fondly and with a criminal background check,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


  1. Mama Cloud

    The best “keep em outside” ploy I’ve pulled so far was a double whammy…wait, maybe triple or quadruple!!! In only two simple steps too!!! Step one either get a bucket full of nuts from you father in law’s pecan trees or purchase a couple bags of whole nuts in the shell from your local grocer…Step two: tell your kids you’ve got a special all in one snack, outdoor activity, and survival skills lesson and send them outside with said nuts WITHOUT a nutcracker!!! That’s the most important part cause the hours of entertainment come from finding creative ways to crack the nuts and reward themselves with there nutritional (I might add) contents!!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Holy pecans! That is friggin’ brilliant, girl. Next time Gramps sends his nuts over in a bucket, CALL ME! We’ll add my Beardos to the mix!

  2. Katybeth

    Until Cole was 12 we were a complete free computer-tv family. Ok–we watched an occasionally movie and he did see the White Sox win the world series. We did not have money for private school and summer day camp so my summer plan was simple–I said yes to any suggestions Cole came up with–including trying explode a Twinkies in the microwave–He cooked, painted, filled the kiddie pool with bubbles and food coloring, learn to operate the Bq and grill hotdogs and hamburgers, made toilet bowl cleaner, and dry ice bombs (the directions are some where on my blog), used the video camera (under the threat of if you break it you will dig your own grave in the back yard), backyard camping…and so on. I only have one kid but he has lots of friends that loved my yes policy. This summer he is remolding my kitchen–ok…he is pulling out the area around the sink, and replacing the counter top. It won’t be perfect–but nothing in my house is and it will be better than what have now. Summer is messy around my house but its livable and organized. I would rather have the mess than the stress of trying to entertain a bored kid.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Katybeth…sounds incredible. I bet Cole is a very special young man (and/or a future Jeffrey Dahmer. Kidding!) Seriously, want one or more of mine for a week? You could charge big cash money for a camp as awesome as that!

  3. Sue from Livin In Duckville

    I’d try stickin’ $1 on my kids forehead & puttin’ him out by the side of the road…. but they’d bring him back with a $20…

    We live on a fairly rural road… mine always wants to sell lemonade… he’ll sit out there for hours hollering ‘Lemonade, lemonade, Lemonade for sale!’ as cars & trucks & farm equipment go by… lol

    • The Bearded Iris

      But of course! The Lemonade Stand! What a great idea! My oldest and our neighbor sell snow cones a few times a summer. They advertise and everything! But poor Mini-Me… she’s not quite the entrepreneur. She made a Comedy Stand once in the driveway and tried to sell jokes. No customers. Poor thing. I told her to get used to it and pick a different career. 😉

      • Kate Y

        OMG, my son’s go-to activity for when he’s bored is the lemonade stand. He sets up a table and beach umbrella, brings out his radio, and has his sister stand out with a sign, and screams (for hours on end… I’m sure our neighbors’ For Sale sign has nothing to do with us), “Lemonade, get your ice cold lemonade. You can have as much or as little as as you want! If you came yesterday, why not come again today!” Last year he made over $30. $30 freaking dollars selling cheap-ass lemonade! I may have to go into business with him.

  4. Alison@Mama Wants This

    I have no idea so I’m writing down all the tips you already have!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Well when your little guy is big enough to be a PITA, call me! By then you might have a whole house full and will need the expertise of moms who’ve gone before you and lived to tell the tale.

  5. Carrie


    I have a great idea – send your kids over here. We planted over 1000 trees in the last two years and I could use some help keeping them clean. Pulling weeds all day is a great way to wear them out and they end up sleeping in the next morning 🙂

    My kids (4 of them) are told that if they have nothing to do and are so bored that there are always trees that need cleaning!

    • The Bearded Iris

      I am sticking them on a bus right now. Call me when they get there. Or not.

  6. Allysgrandma

    I worked outside the home until my youngest daughter was 9, making the older girls 15 and 17, when I started medical transcribing at home. I suddenly understood the Staples ad with the dad and the cart behind the two depressed looking kids, dancing to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”.

    Seriously ladies enjoy every minute you can because it will all be over before you realize it and you will look back on those days as some of the best of your life….sniff, sniff….PS I know you all hate me right now.

  7. Heather

    Seriously, I tried that penny trick for “private time”… it actually only took until they got to 11… left us some extra time for an adult beverage afterward… 😉

  8. Megan at declutterdaily

    Hmm…lets see, I could find all the VBS’s in town and just line them up week by week. Ahh!

  9. Sue from Livin In Duckville

    Iris says: “Well when your little guy is big enough to be a PITA, call me! “…… ROTFLOL….. that is what we call the Lego King…….

  10. Jenna

    Omg- I laughed my ass off with the 25 pennies comment, and I woke my dog as well!
    Add some extra time ladies and teach the kids how to roll the coins as well!
    I have two things that can occupy my 4 year old: 1) a huge bag of those biodegrade packing peanuts and a small tub of water. She loves to watch them melt and squish them. 2) a shoebox full of pens and markers from my office. I tell her she needs to be my “pen tester” to make sure they all work.
    That’s all I have, and it’s only July 1st. It’s going to be a long summer.

    • The Bearded Iris

      The “pen tester” idea!!! But of course! Haven’t done that one in a while. Thanks for the reminder! And those packing peanuts? If you just wet the tip (heh heh heh) you can stick two together and build really neat castles and things. Haven’t done that one in a while either. We don’t get a lot of packages anymore since Ike bit that courier. But I bet Bucket Head would love that! Thanks again!

  11. Anne @ Domesblissity

    You could also threaten to send them overseas to Australia where it’s freezing cold but no snow and no fun so they better be grateful for the warm weather! LOL (I’ll say that to my kids when it’s their 8 week summer vacation!)

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