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I'm not a crafty parent and used to dread summer. I learned 5 easy ways to keep my kids entertained when school is out.

Kelly Burch   

I'm not a crafty parent and used to dread summer. I learned 5 easy ways to keep my kids entertained when school is out.
  • Kate Bast is a mom of two and an influencer.
  • She says simple crafts and repurposing items you already have can keep kids entertained.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Kate Bast. It has been edited for length and clarity.

When you're a mom, sometimes a few minutes of entertainment for the kids makes all the difference. It can allow you to drink your coffee while it's still hot or use the bathroom uninterrupted — things only parents understand the luxury of. If you're trying to get work done while the kids are home this summer, keeping them entertained is a way to stay productive and somewhat sane.

Thinking of new activities all the time can be draining, but I'm here to tell you you don't have to be a crafty or artistic parent to keep your kids engaged and entertained this summer. There are simple ways to do it without spending money on new toys or giving in to screen time demands. Here's how.

Use crafts at just the right moment

If I spend a half hour or so of quality time with my 4-year-old, it can really change the mood of the day. She feels seen and often spins into her own world to continue being creative even after our activity ends.

I like to start the week with two or three simple craft projects at the ready. When the mood feels heavy, or we need a pick-me-up, I bring out the crafts.

Use items you already have around your house

There's nothing worse than trying an activity only to realize that you don't have everything you need or buying craft supplies that you only use once. That's why I emphasize simple crafts with things you already have around the house, like washable window paints made with dish soap, flowers, and paint.

Most parents have Elmer's glue around, which is the perfect base ingredient for adventure. Toddlers and preteens alike love making peelable nail polish or homemade window clings.

Repurpose your kids' favorite toys

Sometimes, seeing a familiar toy in a new setting can spark creativity. Take magnetic tiles, for example, which most of us have lying around. Why not use them to decorate your metal garage door? You could cut stickers in half and put them on the tiles, creating a matching game.

Stuck inside on a rainy day? Construction paper and painter's tape can make tunnels for toy cars that will keep kids entertained for ages. Kids absolutely adore these simple spins on familiar activities.

Encourage independence

We all want our kids to entertain themselves more. While there's certainly a learning curve with age, I've found that even tots can be encouraged to stay occupied with a little challenge. For example, use strips of painter's tape to make marks at different heights on the wall. Challenge your child to use building blocks to make a tower that tall.

Older kids can use tech for inspiration. I love the app Brickit, which scans your Lego bricks or other brick building blocks and shows kids how to make new creations using what they already have.

Don't be afraid to recycle ideas

One of the hardest parts of parenting is finding new ideas — whether for dinners or activities. It's fine to let that pressure go. Kids, especially young ones, love repetition. My daughter loves making Mellow Mallow, a homemade fluffy slime that turns into a fidget. There's no limit on how often she'll do it. Best of all, as she gets more familiar with an activity, she's able to do more by herself, while I take care of her infant sister.

This summer, you'll be surprised about what you have in your house that you can reinvent. These activities are accessible to anyone, and they'll leave you feeling like a superstar parent.

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