Playing with the girls in the pool


Summer is in full swing and the kids are back to being with us full-time. Is that a situation that stresses you out? It doesn’t have to, there are ways to entertain them without having to be an entertainer.

When we were on the sailboat we homeschooled, so we’re pretty used to having the kiddos around all the time.

We’ve enrolled our girls in two summer camps (keeping their mornings busy during the month of July). But then in the afternoons, they are all ours. We’re in the same “boat” as you, kids full-time this summer.

Our girls are good kids. They spend a lot of time entertaining themselves, playing together either in the backyard, on the beach, in a pool, etc. But sometimes they just want to play with us.

I know that we are very involved parents. We commit a lot of time to playing with our kids. We don’t see it as us having to constantly “entertain” them, but more like “it won’t always be like this. They won’t be small forever. These are important years.” But even with that mindset, kids can be tiring.

Outside of the times when we are fully engaging with them, we have come up with a few games to throw in there that are pretty mindless for us adults. We have the girls “working for us”, and them loving the quality time!

If you’re looking for 5 fun ways that could have your kiddos waiting on your hand and foot and loving that they are getting your undivided attention, these are for you!

And if you break down these “lazy parent” games, they are actually educational for the kids too!


Ellia cooking


Play Chef

Take some of the dinner prep work off of your to-do list and give it to them. Ellia is our little chef-in-training, and any time she gets to participate in making a meal she gets so excited. And so proud of the meals she helps create.

If you’re nervous about letting your kids use knives or be near the stove, you can keep it is as easy as having them rinse the veggies, or “plate the food”.

I don’t know how I don’t weigh 1000 lbs yet! We play Chef’s helper a lot. And my cooking tendencies are towards my sweet tooth. Just this last week the girls and I have made chocolate-dipped macaroons and mango popsicles. We’ve already eaten them all!

The educational part: kitchen safety. How to manipulate a knife. Most importantly, learning to cook for themselves, because one day they will have to know how to cook more than just ramen. Ellia also has this kids cooking workbook that has a lot of fun ideas.


Play Restaurant

The girls love to wait on us if it comes in the way of “working in a restaurant”. They make up the menus. Have their little notepads to take our orders. Make what we order, and bring it over asking “what would you like next”?

I was loving life this last weekend when I was sitting in the kiddie pool and Ellia came out with her notepad asking if she could make me a margarita. Then Arias was asking if I wanted peanuts or veggie straws.

Part of the fun for them is that they get to eat the snacks too! But if all I have to pay my waitress is some veggie straws in return for a margarita then I’ll take it!

The educational part: practicing their writing and spelling skills when they create the menus and take our orders. Math when the menus come with “real pricing”. Learning to make margaritas (just joking!!!). Creativity and working on their fine motor skills when the food we’re served comes in the form of playdoh food.


Me painting Ellia's nails

Play Spa 

You may end up with fingernails that look like they were painted by a child, but who really cares when you are spending CALM moments with your kids.

The girls love it when we break out the nail polish and they get to design my nails. Most of the time I end up with all the skin around my nails being painting, but that’s ok. They take a lot of pride in their work. As they should. No matter what it looks like, I will rock their nail polish until it starts wearing off.

This game isn’t just for the mommies, the girls LOVE it even more when Eben lets them paint his nails. So go ahead and get colorful dads.

Our spa days also extend to them doing my makeup. Sometimes we do it with “imaginary makeup”. Other times I let the girls attack my face with the makeup kit Ellia got from Santa last Christmas. But that’s only if I know I have good makeup remover on hand!

The educational part: painting within small confines. Concentration. Artwork. The patience of letting the nail polish dry.


Getting a massage from Arias

Get A Massage

This is always my first suggestion when the girls ask if I want to play with them! If I get to lie on my stomach, half asleep, and my kids are entertained by rubbing my back, then I am winning.

It’s not often that they will be interested in giving me a regular massage though. So we have gotten a little creative.

The girls’ favorite version is to look for drawings online, and then with their fingers, they will attempt to recreate the image on my back. Or we will play the guessing game, where they draw something and I have to try to guess what it is. This requires you to stay somewhat awake though. Or as our readers, Barb and Jessica suggested, get some toy cars, an old t-shirt, and have them draw roadways on the shirt and drive their little cars around your back!

I was very close to letting the girls take their washable markers and use my back as a canvas once. Just to have that “massage” moment last longer…but it was while Eben was away and I figured I may have a hard time washing off the center of my back!

The educational part: Imagination and spatial concepts when drawing on your back.


Arias reading to Ellia

Story Time

We don’t necessarily have to be the ones reading the stories for storytime to be fun. With two little readers on our hands, it’s nice to hand them the book from time to time.

Arias gets right into her role as narrator and does the voices for the characters and everything. It’s extremely entertaining. I’d say, when she’s keen, she does a more entertaining job than me!

This summer use those libraries!!! Stock up on books that your kids and interested in. Sit back, and let the time slip away as they lead you into fairytale land.

The educational part: Reading and the art of storytelling.



Don’t let summer and all those extra hours with your kids get you worked up. Play with them. When you are feeling less energized throw one of these games into the mix. And if that doesn’t work, kick them outside and tell them to go play. And if they are still nagging you, get them involved in whatever you are doing. Kids love to tag along and shadow their parents, even if it is not conventional “playing”, it is quality time that they will remember.


Arias gardening with Eben