School is out for the summer. Some moms may say “Woo-hoo!” while other’s might say “Boo-hoo!” When the warmer months arrive we dream of care free days filled with family bike rides, ice cream, splashing in the pool, chasing fire flies and vacations. That’s the beauty of having the crew all together. Summer breaks also includes more bodies to manage, extra messes, boredom and perhaps tiffs between siblings. As June rolls on into July and on into August those dreamy days can start to wane and stress can start to heat up like the weather outside. What’s a mom to do? While sticky moments are inevitable keep reading to get your summer survival guide for moms so you can have a great time with your kids.
Summer Survival Guide For Moms
In the summer the days are long and free from rigid schedules and obligations You can choose to do absolutely nothing or fill it with as many activities as you want. You’d think kids would be at their best when given the freedom to do whatever they want whenever they want. Have you ever gone into a candy store and ate too much chocolate only to be left with a stomach ache? Leaving children to their own devices has the same effect. They over indulge in something that usually ends up in disaster. Surprisingly kids find security within boundaries and are content.
Setting up parameters is the key element to surviving summer. When kids know what’s expected of them, have predictability and a purpose to their day they seem to behave better. Rules and responsibilities gives them a framework and confidence. Setting up age appropriate expectations and guidelines can also help you be organized in maintaining a slightly more chaotic household too. When things are put into place your kids will be happier and you’ll be happier. Here are some suggestions to put into place.
Create a Routine
Before my kids started school I didn’t have to transition them from one season to the next. They were home with me day in and day out and our routine was the same in the summer as it was in the winter. When my oldest completed his first year of school and was home full-time again I realized I had to implement a new routine. He had his own structure during the school day and I had mine. For the first few weeks I just followed my usual routine and threw him into the mix. During that time I was met with resistance, it was miserable. I soon realized that I needed to create a routine that incorporated his needs along with mine. When that happened our days ran much smoother. Here is a great post with more details on how to create a routine for your summer days.
Set Summer Break Rules
You probably have certain house rules that are already in place. I found that I needed to add a few more into the mix to get us through our day. For example, during the school year our time didn’t allow for endless screen time between school, homework and activities. We don’t have a time limit on devices because my kids just aren’t watching things for long period of times. Summer is different. They think they can watch as much TV as they want so we have to implement a time restriction. Same with snacking. Being home all day entices my kids to go into the pantry as much as they want. I can’t afford to feed them all day long, nor is it healthy, so we have a snack rule too.
Messes can pile up when kids are home for the summer. They also want and need things through out the day. We can clean up after them and wait on them hand and foot and drive ourselves crazy. Or we can teach them responsibility and the concept of pitching in and helping out.
I actually increase the chore list in the summer because we have time to complete them. I keep the tasks simple and age appropriate. My kids are 6 and 7 so they are in charge of things like making their bed daily, clearing their dishes after each meal, setting the table, putting toys away at the end of the day and putting shoes in the closet. They also help put away groceries, put their laundry away and feed the cat. There is something very magical with folding up a basket of laundry and being able to hand the clothes over to someone else instead of having to put it away myself.
Teaching the kids to get things for themselves is also a life saver. Do you ever get tired of hearing, “Mom I need,” right when you’re in the middle of getting something for another child? I love doing things for my kids, but with 3 it can get overwhelming being a gopher. I have things accessible for them, like water bottles, snack bowls and snacks (so that they can get themselves a snack with permission), shoes or tissues and napkins. Giving them access to things they can do on their own cuts down on the requests.
To help me keep everything straight I have several visuals hanging on the fridge so both I and my kids can refer to it. Like teachers posting the daily schedule I have our daily routine posted. I also have our summer rules up.
One visual I really like is our “when can I have screen time” sign. Last summer I implemented this visual to let my kids know when they could have screen time. Basically they have to be ready for the day, have played something, spent time outdoors, read a book, and completed a daily chore before hopping on a device. Making this poster saved me from having to say, “get off the Ipad,” “It’s not time to watch TV.” It also motivated my kids to get dressed and do things instead of me having to nag them to get dressed or get outside to place. They were motivated to do things and be rewarded with time on a device.
It seems like the first part of summer break is the honeymoon period where everyone is happy and helpful. About halfway through though things start to slide. To keep me from having to scold or lecture I found incentive programs keeps us all happy.
Last year I came up with the “Filler Up Cup.” I drew 3 lines around a cup. My children got a bead to put in the cup for things like random acts of kindness, completing chores without extra reminders, or having a great day. As the cup got filled up to each line they got a reward. The first level was an ice cream treat and the last level reached was a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.
With any of these ideas there is room for flexibility. Schedules don’t have to be followed to tea if an impromptu play date comes up. Some days might be rough and expectations to follow rules need to be lowered. Or maybe it’s a rainy day and the best thing to do is have a movie marathon and eat popcorn all day. Overall however these ideas do help keep things running smoothly so you can survive summer and have a great time with your kids.
How to Have a Great Time With Your Kids
Now that you have implemented a framework to follow regularly and things are running smoothly, mostly, you and your kids have the freedom to do fun things to do together. While it is great having down time in the summer, planning different activities helps fight boredom and creates strong bonds and memories.
Here are some ideas to have a great time with your kids.
Planned Weekly Outings
One summer I designated Fridays as “Fun Picnic Fridays” where we packed a picnic lunch and checked out a new park. It was a great way to fill the week with a regularly scheduled activity. I planned ahead so I didn’t have to do house work, shop or plan play dates on that day. It was a day I could count on just being with my children and have fun. The picnic days also felt like we were going on a little road trip each week. I also took pictures of every outing and turned it into a photo book. You could do something similar or something completely different. Other ideas include weekly hikes, check out different swimming places, or bike rides. Just pick a day and a theme and go with it.
Summer Library Program
Libraries come alive in the summer by offering a variety of programs and most of them are free. Check with your local library to see their events. My library offers drop in art time, weekly free movies or performances and cooking classes along with story times. My kids like to attend the same program on the same day each week.
Create a Bucket List
Sit down with your kiddos and brainstorm ideas of what you’d like to do over the summer. Activities could be as simple as watching the clouds to being as big as going to Disney World. When you find yourself feeling bored or with extra free time do something from the list. It’s okay if you don’t complete everything. It’s just helpful to generate thoughts and have it on hand.
Summer Memberships/Season Passes
Check out options in your area to join things, like pools, state parks or children’s museums. If there is a favorite activity you like to do as a family it might be cost-effective to get a pass and go as many times as you want instead of paying a daily admission. Memberships give you access to go there as often as you like.
As Mungo Jerry sang “In the summertime when the weather is hot, you can stretch right up and touch the sky. Sing along with us dee dee dee-dee dee dah dah dah-dah dah. Yeah we’re hap-happy.” There is a light heartedness to this time of year that just makes you want to run around barefoot and laugh. Implement these suggestions from this summer survival and you will be able to hum this tune as you have a great time with your kids.