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You’ve been waiting for this moment all year long.

The chance to be the parent you’ve always wanted to be. This summer will be different, you can feel it.

You’ll be sitting together in a calm, respectful manner, discussing literature, singing songs, baking cookies, and doing all sorts of crafts and activities that would make Mary Poppins seem tame.

“Oh mother, you’re simply divine! Oh daddy, may I have more tea?”

Your heart skips a beat as the bus rolls up.

Opening your arms in anticipation of a warm, loving embrace, your children come roaring down the street, drop their bags to the ground, stab the trees with their pencils, and chant indiscernible praises to their Sun-God.

Forgetting to greet you, they galavant into your home, shouting, spinning, and salsa dancing (who are these children?), raiding your fridge, missing the toilet, and emptying their toy bins.

Their accents are anything but British, and their energy levels, colossal (unless of course, it’s time to clean up). Oh Julie Andrews… you made it look too easy.

Before you accept total defeat, take a look at these helpful organizing tips that will keep your kids entertained and your home mess-free this summer.

Feeding Frenzy

Like feeding time at the zoo, the appetites of your wee ones can throw you into a state of madness. No sooner do they eat are they hungry again, asking for farm to table service with no compensation in sight.

Rather than have the epic, “What do you want?”, or “I’m not eating that!” battle, set up a snack system for each of your children in the fridge and on the counter. In bins designated for each child, place their snacks for the day, allowing them to pick what they want to eat (when snack time ensues). If you are worried they will snack without ceasing, limit the amount of items, letting them know that’s all they have until their main meals. Use baskets with fun colors or characters the kids enjoy, and snack time will be a breeze.

Change it Up!

With so many different toys to choose from, sometimes your children become overwhelmed and decide not to play with anything. In fact, when they see their toys all the time, they tend to lose interest just because they are constantly there.

Before the summer begins, consider renting a self storage unit that you can use to rotate your children’s toys each week. They will view their items with fresh eyes, engaging with and appreciating everything much more. Plus, you won’t have a huge mess to clean up. With units of various sizes in nearly every neighborhood, you’ll be certain to find one that fits within your budget.

Adventure Awaits..

Libraries, parks and museums offer a great number of activities, some at little or no cost. Don’t feel like loading the tribe into the car or changing from your pajamas? Search for nature in your backyard, give your children some black paper and chalk, or go on a treasure hunt right in your living room! There is a ton to see and do. All you need is a little imagination!

Whether your kids are out on a hiking trail or fighting gorillas from a pillow fort, this summer can be a memorable one for each of you. By using containers, renting some storage space, and being creative, your kids will have a great time, and you will too.

(And if your little one smears jelly on the wall or your oldest begins crying over a dead ant, take a step back and smile)

Summer is the best.