You found this post because you want to know what magic I have up my sleeve for making the most out of summer break with you kids. Likely, you spent 180 days in your classroom with someone else’s children and now here you are at home, less than a month into what’s supposed to be a redeeming, relaxing and rejuvenating couple of months with your own kiddos. And, it was. Briefly.
Clearly, based on the extremely nutritious breakfast I picture above, I have it all. figured. out. I navigate summer with a clean kitchen, zero yelling, and by devoting 110% attention to my little minions. Except not. I’ve yelled at least five times already, sent one to time out (for twice her age in minutes) for hitting her brother, washed out someone’s mouth with soap for saying butthole, AND have issued line writing for tattling. Not to mention the few minutes I hid in the bathroom pretending to ‘go’ so I could look at Instagram without being judged or hounded by the never-ending demands three children make. AND IT’S NOT EVEN ONE O’CLOCK.
Guys. I love my kids. Like a whole lot. Like the kind of love that literally makes me want to take a bite of their fat little cheeks because I love them so much. (Not weird! It’s an actual thing!) But they test the Jesus in me several times an hour, and the weight of their collective misbehavior is compounded by the fact that we’re spending a lot of time together. Sometimes my toleration level hovers around a .02 percent.
BUT. I have some strategies. Ten, as a matter of fact, that I’m using to my advantage to make our summer run smoother and less you’re-driving-me-seven-shades-of-crazy.
NUMBER ONE: Send them outside.
It’s summer and the pretty days are (hopefully) plentiful, in which case: buh-bye. Spray some sunscreen on and go. Go blow bubbles, draw with chalk, ride your bike, find a friend, breathe fresh air, read a book on the porch, whatever. Just do it outside. Beck is almost ten-years-old, so he has quite a bit more freedom than the younger two, but I make it a point to get everyone outside when it’s nice.
NUMBER TWO: Allow boredom.
Contrary to popular belief you aren’t responsible for entertaining your children. I give you absolute permission to respond to “I’m bored!” with a very polite, “So?” Boredom isn’t bad a bad thing. (And, please don’t confuse allowing your children to be bored with failing to supervise – that’s not what I mean.) Boredom can create opportunity for rest, imagination, and creativity. All childhood necessities. If your kids are complaining of boredom, you’re probably doing something right. And, for the love of Mario and Luigi, please don’t shove a tablet in their hands to stave it off. Which leads me to…
NUMBER THREE: Limit screentime.
On my best days, we have a thirty minute time limit over here. There are rainy day occasions when I allow a bit more, but I am SUPER guarded when it comes to electronic usage with my kids. There are 1000 better things to do than spend hours gaming or surfing the internet for the underage crowd. Literally, THOUSANDS. This has been a hard and fast rule at our house since Beck was old enough to play a Leapster, so we rarely get any kickback from him. If you need some research to support this suggestion, search digital heroin in your browser. The studies are alarming.
NUMBER FOUR: Go to the library.
Two words: FREE BOOKS. I’ll give you a minute to remember that there is an actual place that will lend you books for FREE. Exciting, right?! I had fallen into the lazy and expensive habit of purchasing books and having Amazon deliver them right to my front door 48-hours later, which is a convenient and welcomed service…but it meant my kids were missing out on all the glorious opportunities offered at the library. Not only do libraries stock their shelves with books you can take home, but there’s typically a section dedicated just to kiddos that is chockfull of puzzles, games, toys, puppets, and more! Most libraries offer special summer programming just for children, too, along with incentives for reading while they’re out of school. Don’t let this gem go unvisited this summer. GO to the library!
NUMBER FIVE: Find the free.
My community (and likely your’s, too) offers a lot of things for locals to enjoy absolutely free of charge. From museums and parks to church-led VBSes and art classes, a quick internet search of ‘free things to do in ______’ might surprise you. Your kids will the love the opportunity to go somewhere new, try a novel activity, or hang out with their peers doing something fun, and you’ll love the added value a costless activity brings to your summer routine.
NUMBER SIX: Throw out the agenda.
Operate on summer time. If you don’t have anywhere to be, don’t act like you do. Slow down and enjoy your cup of coffee a little later, a little longer. Indulge in the freedom that summer offers without feeling the need to schedule every second. Don’t worry about the dishes immediately after dinner and go outside and play. The dishes will still be there (unfortunately), but that playtime fades with the sunset. Enjoy the unscheduled opportunities and let possibility dictate your day.
NUMBER SEVEN: Maintain responsibilities.
All of our kiddos have chores and responsibilities that are appropriate for their ages. Beck, naturally, has more to do and is afforded a monthly allowance because of it. Over the summer, those responsibilities stay put, along with new ones added here and there depending on the day. I figure, if you’re home to make the mess, you’re going to help clean it. Benny and Faith actually adore wielding a paper towel or two and following me around the house. I spray, they scrub. Winning!
NUMBER EIGHT: Buy the ice cream.
While I’m down for a scoop or two any time of year, ice cream is such an iconic summer treat that you just have to enjoy it even more during the warmer months. There’s such a sense of nostalgia associated with ice cream that I can actually recall some of my favorite ice cream shops we visited during my childhood. You probably can do the same. Some days we just have a bowl at home after dinner and top it with a generous helping of sprinkles and sometimes we’ll visit our favorite local shops. My goal this summer is to seek out the little ice cream joint gems in our area because there’s great bonding to be had at a Creamy Whip that was built in 1968. Don’t miss the moments to share a couple of cones with your kids this summer. You’ll achieve Fun Mom Status, no doubt. (Sidenote: An opportunity to get ice cream at the end of the day is a definite incentive to use from 9-5pm to encourage siblings to play fairly, minimize arguing, and let mom shower in peace, AMEN. It’s summer. We do what we have to do.)
NUMBER NINE: Encourage creativity.
Chalk, crayons, paint and copy paper are ridiculously inexpensive. Quilts, comforters, and blankets for forts are free. Lucky enough to live on a wooded lot? Nature is your playground. Fill a bucket of water, give every kiddo a paintbrush and let concrete painting commence. Shop your house for dress-up clothes, old makeup brushes, a broken computer and let them enter the world of make believe. It doesn’t take much effort or expense to get little imaginations ignited.
NUMBER TEN: Make room for Me Time.
Speaking from experience, I’m not the best version of myself if I’m not actively planning dates with my husband, wine nights with my girlfriends, or heading outside of the house to do a little shopping sans-kiddos. There are ZERO things wrong with investing in yourself some this summer. If you’re like me, you’re a better mom when you’re feeling fulfilled outside of your role as the resident peanut-butter-and-jelly-maker and booboo-kisser. Full disclosure: I have a sitter twice a week and she is worth her weight in whatever metal is most precious right now.
So, there you have it. How I’m staying sane-ish this summer. Nothing groundbreaking, but it works for me. On most days 😉
Do you have anything to add? Let’s talk about this in the comments!
PS. That delectable breakfast from the top is an actual pancake covered sausage on a stick that I served my children this morning. So, if you ever question your parenting abilities, reflect back to this post and rationalize away.