A Busy Mom’s Guide to Enjoying Summer

Managing kids in the summer practically requires you to become a flight controller. Between the constant chorus of “I’m bored!” and creating magical summer memories while also staying sane, keeping within budget, and maintaining the homes, summer can be hard to soak up and enjoy. When that last school bells rings, don’t panic. We’ve got you.

summerHere is a simple 15-step guide to keep mom (and kids!) happy this summer.

1. Set Boundaries

Setting up expectations each day will help the day flow better. We promise. Create a list of things kids can do (to give them some ownership), but also let them know what is not acceptable, feasible, or part of the schedule. Where do you put in structures, and where do you just let go? You should decide that before summer officially hits!

2. Go Outside

Being outside in the summer is the best medicine. It cures boredom and the indoor blues. Even if it’s just doing chalk, taking a quick walk around the block, letting them stomp in puddles, or going to the park, just get outside. Plus, that Vitamin D hits the spot!

3. Stick to a Budget

Have a big expense coming up like a new pool, summer camp program, or a new Wonderfold wagon? Be sure to save up and manage expenses wisely. Decide how many times a week you do a paid activity, eat out for lunch, or buy the kids a new toy. You’ll thank yourself for setting aside the “slush” fund now versus spending frivolously this summer.

4. Have A Weekly Plan

We’re all for spontaneity, but a high-level plan helps keep the peace…and sanity. Decide what will happen that week. Discuss the plans with everyone Sunday night to ensure everyone is on board. Don’t plan detailed days, just the week in general. This will allow for last minute changes but also ensure kids have realistic expectations (see #1).

5. Buy Food in Bulk

See if a friend will let you borrow their Costo card (if you don’t have one already) and load up on all the pantry staples & snacks. Create an easy to access shelf for kids to help themselves (with permission, of course) so it’s one less thing for you to divvy out. Cut up fresh fruit & veggies and buy things like string cheese and drinkable yogurt and keep them accessible for kids to grab as they need. They will go through A BOATLOAD of snacks – and you don’t want to be the snack referee all day long.

6. Go on an Adventure

An adventure can be as big or small as you’d like. Search for different kinds of leaves and make a book. Create a scavenger hunt at the local park. Play “I Spy” during a walk. Go to a water park for the day. Hit up Old MacDonald Farm and make a point to learn something about each animal. You can choose your own adventure.

summer7. Put on the Darn Swimming Suit

What is it with us moms and swimming suits? We’re so self-conscious to be able enjoy summer with our “mom bod”. Don’t be. Put on the shorts and tank top. Wear that swimsuit. Make memories with your kids because the only one who notices your imperfections is you.

8. Don’t Worry About the House

Keep it semi-tidy with daily chores, but don’t worry about tackling your summer break home projects – the garage re-org can wait and so can that painting project. Save those for a rainy day when the kids aren’t around. It’ll be less stressful for you (and less boring for the kids) when you focus your efforts on summer fun vs. your DIY projects.

9. Don’t Make a Summer Bucket List

We want you to plan and organize your weeks, but don’t create an impossible summer bucket list. Don’t set yourself up to feel like a failure if you couldn’t make time for all the things you and the kids wanted to do. Keep the summer open and go with the flow. You’ll be surprised how much more you enjoy summer without a daunting list hanging over your head.

10. Sign Your Kids Up for Camp

Whether it’s a week-long camp, a 1/2 day program, or maybe it’s just one or two days somewhere outside of the home, we’re big advocates of camp for sanity purposes. And maybe it’s not camp per say. Maybe the grandparents take them out for ice cream once a week or a high-school student takes them every Friday. You could even work with other at-home parents to schedule times where you can trade off on having each other’s kids to give yourself a break – and the kids out of their routine.

11. Lower Expectations

Seriously, this is a must- do. Not every day will go as planned. There will be a lot of spilled milk (figurately and literally). The kids’ hair won’t always be brushed, they may not match, and it won’t always be sunshine and rainbows. Some days you’re surviving, and it’s ok to have days where you just do nothing. There is no trophy for hosting the most magical summer.

12. Don’t Delay Getting School Supplies

Back to school always creeps up. Put it on your calendar now to get school supplies the first weekend in August (plus, it’s Cedar Rapids’ tax-free weekend!). There is nothing worse than waiting until the last minute – when everything is picked over and the kids don’t get their beloved Baby Yoda folder that all their friends have. Summer goes fast, so plan ahead!

13. Cereal is OK for Dinner & Pajamas Can be Worn All Day

This. A snack tray for lunch? Yep. Mismatched pajamas all day long? Why not? There is no judgement, mama. Let them enjoy summer and let go of control. Pick your battles.

14. Let Them Be Bored

We have a rule in the summer: every time the kids say they’re bored, they get a chore. That usually changes their tune pretty quickly. We live during a time where kids need constant stimulation and screens, and don’t use their imaginations as frequently. Don’t feed into their boredom – you’re not a clown meant to entertain them all day. Give them options and let them choose. Let their minds wander.

15. Don’t Freak Out

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Summer is only 10 weeks. Whether you’re a working mom, work-from-home mom, or stay-at-home mom, summer can present its own unique obstacles. But, it can also be a time of resetting and relaxation if you let it be. Just let things slide and let it go like Elsa did.

Yes, we want to make summer magical & fun –  set up lemonade stands and do all of the reading challenges, but we also need to be real – mama needs her space, boundaries, and sanity intact, too.

What are some other tips you’d recommend to enjoy summer? Let us know below.

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