Five tips for managing the summer mayhem

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Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 8:00 pm

Summer is supposed to be the season for rest and relaxation, but most parents report a different story. With the end of the school year comes a mad dash to register for camp, sign up for swim lessons, book that Florida vacation and find the perfect summer nanny. Coordinating car pools, planning play dates, and continually devising ways to keep kids occupied is enough to drive any parent crazy. Do not be overwhelmed by the chaos of the season. Check out these five tips to make your family's summer routine more manageable.

Hire a babysitter or nanny. For the sake of your sanity, call in some care reinforcements. Whether you work or are a stay-at-home parent, everyone needs extra help in the summer months. Having someone to help shuttle the kids to art camp or keep an eye on them while you run to the grocery store makes a world of difference. Figure out what works best for you. Hire a full-time summer nanny or simply schedule a babysitter a couple mornings a week. Don't know where to start? Try posting flyers at the public library or asking a friend for a recommendation - you could even contact local colleges to find sitters looking for summer work. Do not be discouraged if your care search doesn't yield immediate results. Finding nannies in New York is much easier than if you live in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. so keep your location in mind. Once you find the care you need, your life will become immeasurably easier.

Look into summer camp. Camp will not only occupy your children during the summer months, but it will also provide happy memories and lifelong friendships. Search for camps that cater to your child's interests - whether that is theater, sports, science or art. Participation in a specialized camp could be an excellent way for your child to explore his talents and learn more about himself. Discuss with your older children the option of sleep-away camp. While not for everyone, this experience fosters important social development and builds character.

Find a tutor. All kids should have a break from school in the summer months, but they should also stay on top of their skills. If you are looking for a way to occupy your child on a summer afternoon, hire a tutor to meet with her once a week for a bit of mental exercise. The tutor can help her improve problem areas or give her a head start on next year's material. Whether you are searching for tutors in Atlanta or Seattle, finding a tutor will likely be easier than you expect because most teachers and college students search for such employment in the summer months.

Have fun for less. Pass on pricey entertainment when seeking summer fun. Give your kids a cultural experience and check out some museums, many of which have free admission or designated free days. Go to the local art museum with some paper and crayons and challenge the kids to replicate their favorite painting. Stop by a local farm to pick strawberries and pet the animals. Have a picnic in the local park - don't forget to bring a Frisbee, a ball or another outdoor activity. And never forget the public library. Besides the hours your children could spend getting lost in their favorite book, most libraries offer story hour, arts and crafts, and other educational activities.

Take a day trip. A low-key day trip can provide the rest and relaxation you need to survive the summer craze. Look into nearby destinations that are family-friendly, but not too touristy. A sleepy seaside town or a scenic mountain trail could be the perfect place to spend some quality time together. Remember to take it slow. Trying to pack in a million tourist attractions is never fun for anyone. Be active - go hiking, explore the area, take in some sights - but be sure to carve out some time to simply do nothing. Most importantly, enjoy your escape and cherish the moments of peace you and your family have together.

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