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06/26/2018 13:27 EDT | Updated 06/26/2018 13:32 EDT

Transition Your Kids From School To Summer Like A Pro

Here's how you can get the summer started off right, and keep on top of things until school starts up again.

School is almost out, and soon we'll be enjoying all that is wonderful about spending those long summer days with our kids. Whether your summer itinerary includes lots of beach days, trips to museums and cultural events, road trips, a big family vacation, or even just chilling at home, it helps to be prepared.

Here's how you can get the summer started off right, and keep on top of things until school starts up again.

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Covering the basics

Because last summer's swimsuit likely isn't going to fit your kid anymore, it's a good idea to make a list of their summer essentials and buy them before you actually need them. You don't want to be caught scrambling on that first trip to the beach/pool/cottage when your kid can't squeeze into their old shorts. Also, depending on how rough your child is on their things, you might discover that even if the shorts fit, they may no longer be in wearable condition.

Take time to go through your kids drawers and to work out what they need. Going through the clothes with your kids will also help you decide whether they actually need new things, or if they just want them. Just asking kids, especially those who are more fashion-aware, may result in you spending more than is needed.

Well-stocked summer supplies

We've all been in that situation where we've had to buy an emergency bottle of sunscreen or bug-spray at a place that charges premium prices, and it's hugely frustrating. You either end up paying double the price for your usual brand, or your only choice may be a fancy sunscreen you've never heard of that sets you back even more, just because you're in a pinch. The same could be said for other summer fun essentials, like sand toys, hats, flip-flops and more.

The battle to keep kids off screens is something most parents struggle with, and it only gets worse over the summer

Be smart this year, and stock up on summer essentials now, so you can use the brands you trust, shop the stores you like and pay the prices you expect. And don't get caught in the same situation next summer! If you see an end-of-season summer clearance, stock up on sale items or summer styles a size or two up for your kids now so you don't have to pay full-price.

Beat Backyard Blues

If you have a backyard, keep a basket of everything your kids need near the door they are using to go in and outside. That way they can help themselves to towels, sunscreen, a hat and flip flops when they are heading out the door. Every so often add something new to the basket, like sidewalk chalk or bubbles, to keep things fresh and exciting. This works well in small spaces too — just adjust the contents of the basket to match the outdoor space and activities that best suit your needs.

Screen-free boredom busters

The battle to keep kids off screens is something most parents struggle with, and it only gets worse over the summer when the kids don't have school and their regular activities to distract them. Advance planning here can help too.

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Clever parents set limits on screens that are manageable and easy to enforce. Depending on the age of your kids, this could include no screens until they've fulfilled certain tasks — cleaned their room, read for 20 minutes, played outside for 30 minutes, etc. — or by allowing them a certain amount of screen time per day/week, divvied up however they decide.

If you'd like your kids to read more over the summer, you could order them a gift of a series of books to work their way through, or join a summer reading program at your local library. Library reading programs often offer incentives to those who read a certain number of books, such as theme park tickets or meal vouchers, and this is something that you could easily emulate at home.

For kids that are too young to read solo, you could stock up on age-appropriate art supplies, stickers, and colouring books that'll keep them busy. This way, you still get time to yourself without resorting to screens.

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Plan ahead – for summer and back to school!

Take inventory of what your kids have and know what they'll need for the upcoming year. Being organized and planning ahead will allow parents to make the most of their time this summer and scoop up school savings.

Most stores will begin having school savings beginning in July, so slowly check items off your list to relieve that last-minute school shopping that can be extremely stressful.

A little planning and preparation will help ensure parents, and kids, get the most out of summer, with the least amount of spending surprises.

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