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Hello, sweet friends. It’s been a while.

We’re knee deep in camp mommy right about now, and swimming is the one activity that seems to be holding it all together – because, for us, it’s the activity least likely to generate conflict. Case in point: a small girl was just in my room, attempting to convince me of the merits of wearing a mini-skirt, leggings, and a long sleeve shirt with a tank top on top even though it’s only 6:16 a.m. and already 90° outside. Nothing like some conflict in the morning.


But announce that it’s time to swim, and that same child will strip wherever she is standing, and only then run around looking for her bathing suit.

Swimming, as a whole, is worth way more than the sum of all its parts. Pick it apart and you’ll see; there’s the changing out of clothes, the looking for bathing suits, the putting on suntan lotion, the gathering of towels, flip-flops and sunglasses, the actual swimming, and then the drying off, getting dressed and having a snack. If you add in pre- and post-swim bathroom visits, well, I’m no math-girl here but that would seem to me to be a minimum of 10 activities right there, making swimming a favorite of camp mommy directors everywhere.

Thankfully, camp mommy has been going along swimmingly (see what I did there?) until now. And then, all of a sudden, everything grinds to a halt (I’m looking at you, nine days). No swimming. And if you’re like me, a completely neurotic and superstitious mommy, there will also be no long car trips or, G-d forbid, a plane trip. My husband likes to look at me funny but he knows it’s true – if I could stop driving during the nine days and just bubble wrap all the people until after Tisha B’Av, I would.

I can’t, but it’s certainly not for lack of trying.

The other issue – we love listening to music. Playing music while coloring is our go-to activity, so the nine days can make us more than a little antsy, but we plow through. It did take me a while to conjure up a few replacement activities, but I think we’re good now. Personally, I prefer to be in an air-conditioned room, especially during the nine days. I also enjoy sitting on the couch while I entertain my kids. Sometimes I even change it up and sit in the recliner. So join me, planning ahead never felt so good.

Have a breakfast picnic. Okay, I admit, this one is outside, but it’s in your own backyard so it’s not that far away. Make pancakes, bring some yogurt cups and cut up fruit and sit outside on a picnic blanket before the heat of the day takes hold. Of course when you’re done, you should head right back inside your cool house.

Wash the toys. All the toys. We don’t even actually go all the way outside for this one. We drag all the washable toys into the garage. We sit in the shaded garage with the doors open and start cleaning, sponges, soap and all.

Sleepover. Host a pretend sleepover in the house, during daylight hours. Put on pajamas (or just stay in them if no one bothered getting dressed that morning), lay out sleeping bags, snacks and books. You can even build a fort. We’re huge fans of forts.

Plan a party. My kids can plan their birthday parties year-round and the more often the theme changes, the more of an activity the planning becomes. It’s the perfect activity for a hot summer day. Hand each kid a pad of paper, a few pencils and let them list their theme ideas, the games they’d like to play, their guest list and on and on and on. The list is, literally, endless as they can plan these parties over and over.

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Jen Wise is a work-at-home mother to a bunch of kids somewhere in New Jersey. She's also a freelance writer, an art teacher and a pediatric nutrition coach.