Transitioning from school to summer can be hard on our kids, but I think it is even harder on us moms, if you know what I mean! If we have been lucky enough to have all our kids in school during the day, we are use to having some time “alone”. This abrupt change when that last bell rings for the school year can put some moms into frenzy and feel incapable, unprepared and overwhelmed. I know, I use to be one of those moms, who had trouble transitioning to the days when my kids were around me 24 hours a day! As a single mom this was incredibly difficult, you just never got a break! I am thankful those days are over.
So as we venture into this summer season, I would love to share with you a few ideas that have come up in coaching calls I’ve had with other busy moms lately as we tackle the issue of “summer” and the added stress it can have for moms. Hopefully a few will be right on target and make your summer more of a dream than a struggle.
1. Take time for yourself – somewhere!
“But I don’t have time!” Sound familiar? I realize that having kids around all day means there is little time to be “alone”. So, in order to make that happen, you have to get creative and pro-active. I can tell you, someone is not going to set this up for you; you are going to have to make it happen yourself. If your kids are older, 5 and up, you can set a time every morning or afternoon where they know you have time alone. Set up the expectation and follow through. Sit outside, read on the sofa, take a walk, whatever soothes your soul. Now, if you have younger kids it may be easier to get your time alone in the morning BEFORE everyone gets up. I know for me, even with older kids this set-up works best. I can have “me” time and then my mind is set for the day.
2. Keep some kind of routine
This is non-negotiable! Even though it is summer and everyone wants to be lazy and “hang out” you still need some kind of structure to create a flow in your home. We have a much more laid back summer routine for the morning, but never the less the kids know what needs to be accomplished by a certain time and what they’re responsible for. It allows for everyone to actually do something rather than waste the day away. Some days it is fine to lay around til noon in your jammies, we even schedule “Pajama Day” at our house, but if it becomes a habit you are just asking for trouble. Set up some expectations and stick to them.
3. Trading Kids
So this is a great way for you to still have some time “off” even when you are suppose to be “on duty” 24/7 now! Do you have a friend or neighbor with similar age and number of children? Why not coordinate a day per week where you take all the kids and she gets a break and then she takes the kids and you get a break! You could work this as an all day event, but I much prefer the before or after lunch schedule. Say you pick up her kids at 1 PM, they’ve already had lunch and off you go to do some exploring with your kids along for the ride. I know other moms have realized this secret….shhhhh…… “The more kids that you have in your arena does not mean it is more work!” Come one, you know what I mean! Choose a fun activity (beach, park, zoo, etc) and supervise everyone having a good time. You may even be surprised that you can get a few chapters of your favorite book in while they are splashing about. The reward is your afternoon FREE of kids – just imagine how wonderful that break will be and what you can do during that time.
4. Easy Meals
Come up with some easy lunch ideas that your kids can either help you prepare or do it all themselves. I especially love when I have leftovers and the kids just re-heat those. It makes it great for everyone. We do like to experiment at our house though, so usually we plan one day in the week to do a special lunch recipe, making it part of an activity. This can be making pizza, homemade macaroni and cheese or another favorite you have. Make sure you plan ahead to avoid fast-food, especially if you are going to be out and about. The worst habit you can fall into during the summer is quickly running through the drive-thru because it is the “easiest”. At times it is necessity, but a little planning can prevent the trip!
5. Family Meeting
Have a family meeting to get some input from your kids about some activities they would like to do this summer. I have found this to be a great resource for planning our summer. The suggestions sometimes surprise me, but we really have done some interesting things due to suggestions. We also have asked the kids to pick 3 things they would like to do during the summer, put them in order of preference and then we tell them we will do our best to complete at least one. It may be as simple as camping or back packing or more difficult, like getting a trampoline (which we in fact did one summer!)
6. Time Outside
Get your family outside everyday! This may seem like a no-brainer, but as kids get older it is easier for them to find the TV or video games very intriguing. Make an expectation for everyone, including you that you will all get outside during the day for some time of activity. Maybe it is just walking the dogs, or perhaps having a water balloon fight. Even if it rains, get creative about how to have fun outside.
7. Read a book together
You can start this even when you have really young kids. By intentionally choosing to read together as a family you are encouraging this as a habit for your kids to continue to develop as they grow older. Choose a few different books to read, start with one and see where it goes. You can choose a time to read, and switch readers if you have older children. Sometimes we read around the breakfast table, it is where everyone is and it keeps them entertained too. Now that my kids are older, we are picking a book and everyone is reading at their own pace and we set times to discuss what we have read. This summer we are reading, “The Hole in the Gospel, What Does God Expect of Us,” by Richard Stearns. I have enjoyed creating this type of environment for continued learning and expression throughout the summer months.
8. Have a Pajama Day
This is a favorite of my kids! It works throughout the year, but I find that in the summer it is even more fun to pick a day and purposefully stay in your pajamas, hanging out enjoying just your family. We started this “tradition” when I was a single mom and had little money for big adventures, so we created our own little adventures! We would watch movies, play games, make recipes, rest and just plain hang out! It is like taking a mini vacation in the middle of summer right at home!
9. Plan Ahead
This is often an area that moms struggle with. Planning fun activities and adventures in advance so you have what you need. I know I struggle with this even today! It just seems that time gets away from me and then I am caught off guard. So this summer I decided to create a Summer Survival Calendar with Kids. It is a 3 month summer calendar with over 100 activities, recipes and projects with click-able links to all the instructions. So all the planning is done for you, you just need to take a look at the weeks line up and make sure you have supplies handy and you are all set. I have done all the work for you. You can take a look at The Confident Mom’s Summer Survival Calendar with Kids and see if it sounds like a must have for you!
10. Ask for Patience!
Keep doing what you need to do in order to keep fresh and connected. For me, I know I am praying for patience several times a day – and well, He gives me lots of opportunities to display what I ask for! Taking a deep breath is sometimes all you can do when things start getting a little crazy, but just remember, you are the adult and you just need to keep acting like the adult!
I hope your summer is one full of memory making adventures and you survive with lots of smiles. Make sure you take lots of pictures – maybe even making a photo journal of all your adventures together.