Summertime just got easier for parents thanks to the new Netflix Families portal (www.netflix.com/families).

Be honest.

How many of you have to deal with "I'm Boooooored" all summer long? (ME!)

And...

Who has had trouble finding one movie to watch at home that will entertain the whole family? (ME!)

And...

Whose kids have stumbled on inappropriate shows online while trying to stem their boredom? (ME!)

Plus...

How many of you have put your kids in front of the TV for short periods to keep them entertained while you snuck in some work? (ME!)

A lot of the discussion I was part of at the Stream Team blogger session at Netflix Headquarters in the Silicon Valley recently lasered in on family viewing. If you haven't read my first post about Everything You Need to Know about Netflix, you should hop over there now for a quick recap.

I'll wait.

Entertaining kids with safe, age-appropriate, high-quality programming is a challenge for parents, especially during the summer. This is why Netflix is investing a ton of dollars and development on enhancing Netflix for families. Here are some highlights you should know about to help make your summer easier and less expensive.

Netflix Families Section

Did you know there is a brand new Netflix Families portal (www.netflix.com/families) that was created especially for busy families? I didn't. It is filled with how-to tips on streaming, plus custom-made suggestions just for parents. When you turn on Netflix with your kids, this is the area you should be in this summer. No inappropriate film or TV options. All family-friendly programming, commercial-free, all the time. 

Ready When You Are

One of the awesome perks of Netflix is that it's on demand. When your kids are melting down (or you are), their favorite shows are always ready to be streamed with a click of a button. Need some time to make dinner? No prob. Time for a quick dose of Handy Manny. Got a client call you have to make? An episode of My Little Pony will give you around 20 minutes of quiet time. And it's not just for your kids. When your little ones are down for a nap, that's when you can take your iPad back to watch Breaking Bad or Mad Men.

So Many Shows To Choose From

Right now in Canada, Netflix has relationships with some of the top television producers for children's programming. Cartoon Network (Adventure Time, Ben 10, Regular Show, Johnny Bravo), Hasbro Studios (My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic, Transformers Prime, Transformers Rescue, Bots, Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters, Littlest Pet Shop) and Disney Jr. (Jojo’s Circus and Handy Manny). Just recently added to the roster is Magic School Bus and an exclusive tween mermaid series called H20: Just Add Water.

In fact, there are lots of shows that are exclusive to Netflix Canada. So, the only place your kids will be able to stream movies like Ice Age: Continental Drift, Rio, Puss in Boots or Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked will be through Netflix. Just this week Netflix announced an exclusive deal with mega-producers Dreamworks (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon) for a ton of original family programming premiering on Netflix later this year.

It's NOT Just about the Kids

Thank you Netflix for acknowledging my existence. If you visit www.netflix.com/families now, you'll notice a bunch of curated rows of shows that have nothing to do with kids. Instead there's a section called Catch Up TV for Busy Parents and Movies Based on Bestsellers. If the kids are outside playing in the backyard, grab your iPad and get some me-time viewing in. Or take them out for a really long bike ride so they drag themselves to bed early. Movie night for deserving parents!

Common Sense Media Reviews

I'm also applauding Netflix for creating a partnership with Common Sense Media. If you're not familiar with this organization, you should check them out! They create independent and transparent reviews of programming to help parents and kids watch age appropriate shows. Now, when you click on any show featured on Netflix, you will find a Common Sense review and rating to help you make informed decisions. A great example of this is their review of Hunger Games, a film that's hard to categorize but definitely not in the kids section based on their recommendation.

Parental Controls

So let's say your kids haven't logged into the Families area for some reason. You can still have some control as to what content they can or cannot see on Netflix. With your subscription, there is a Parental Control feature you can enable which will only show them programs appropriate for their age and stage.

Summers Are Expensive!

Between summer camps and family expeditions, I am bleeding dollars. Taking my family to a movie costs around $50 — not including popcorn! Argghh! Just for savings alone, www.netflix.com/families is a life saver. For $7.99 a month everyone in our family can stream shows either alone or as a family commercial free. We can grab the iPad or laptop or even the smartphone when the kids are climbing the walls and wherever we are we just log in and watch. Hotels, in the car or at the grandparents, we're handled. 

I plan to work less and play more this summer. More running around with the kids, bike riding, adventuring, and picnicking. But there will be those work days or rainy afternoons when we all need a little down time. That's when Netflix gets turned on for a little sanity-saving session. Know what I mean?