Surviving summer in the cul-de-sac

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Today is the last day of school in Harford County and that means it’s time to prepare for summer in the cul-de-sac survival. In a mere 24 hours, the neighborhood children will be cut loose from their schedules and set free to roam. My cul-de-sac draws them from the surrounding streets like an asphalt magnet where they can skateboard, ride scooters and play basketball while dodging fewer cars than elsewhere. When they come, they will require food, drink and first aid. The cul-de-sac culture is perfect for my kids. Whenever we find ourselves at home, playmates are just a few steps away (often we just have to peek in our garage where today I found two little girls engaged in a sword fight with tree branches). But, to keep things running smoothly, I have to be prepared. To that end, I’ve come up with the following survival kit with the help of other neighborhood moms:

  1. Freeze Pops – a few bucks will get you a pack of 100 of these treats to keep in the freezer and shell out to any number of overheated children looking to cool off.

  2. Kool Aid – I find packets of this powdered drink on sale for less than 20 cents a pack at Target and Superfresh. This is a lot cheaper than handing out bottled water that the kids will often end up pouring over each other’s heads.

  3. Paper cups – small paper cups of Kool Aid limit the dishes you’ll have to do when kids forget which cup is theirs and leave a dozen of them scattered on the kitchen counter.

  4. Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, peanut butter & jelly – lunchtime often will come while you have more than your own children in the house. As long as the kids aren’t allergic to anything, I like to offer them an easy, kid-friendly lunch when I feed my own kids. I find kids will play for hours without meals just to avoid having to go home.

  5. First aid kit – at the very least, have Band-Aids and antibiotic ointment on hand to clean up minor scrapes. KidsHealth.org has a good list of First Aid kit essentials.

  6. Parents phone numbers – while I usually know most of the kids playing in the cul-de-sac, sometimes I end up bandaging the knee of someone I’ve never seen before. I try to keep a list of the kids’ parents’ phone numbers handy in the event an injury is more serious than a scraped knee. It’s also good to keep in touch with parents regularly. I assume I need to apologize after my kids have been playing at another child’s house. There’s something that comes over kids when they’re not at their own home. One minute everyone is playing nicely and the next minute, they’re hitting each other over the head with lacrosse sticks.

  7. Rules of the house – whatever your rules are, you’ll find yourself repeating them constantly. But eventually a few of them will start to stick with at least some of the children – hopefully at least your own – and it will be a little easier to keep the kids from scooping the fish out of the pond and sliding down the basement stairs on the sofa pillows.

So there you go. That’s my list. Hope it’s helpful. Seventy-five more days until school starts again. Good luck.