You only get about 18 summers with your child. Laying it out bluntly like that makes it seem so harsh and so fleeting. It makes you want to do everything differently, and try to cherish every moment with them.
The reality however, is that the days are long, and what little patience you do have isn’t spent cherishing them, it’s spent trying not to lose your dang mind. Each day of those nine weeks of summer can feel like an eternity when you are cooped up at home with rowdy children, but luckily there are a few mom hacks that can make your life easier.
10 Summer Calendar
As soon as spring rolls around it’s time for the first summer prep! The easiest way to get your bearings is to start with your summer calendar. Whether you plan your schedule on physical paper or digitally in an app, take a look at the summer months and start putting in events you already know about - sports schedules, birthday parties, weddings, work vacations, etc. Next, you’ll want to start planning out the activities your family will be doing this summer. Decide which weekends you’ll be going on adventures, like camping, which weeks the kids will be at day camp or the babysitter’s, which evenings you and your partner are going on dates, anything and everything you can think of.
While it’s unlikely that your entire summer will go perfectly according to plan, having a schedule in place before the kids ditch their backpacks for days in front of the TV, will allow you to feel like you are ahead of the game, and know where you’re going to be and when.
9 Daily Summer Schedule
While a calendar for the whole summer break is vital, it’s also only one piece of the puzzle. Next you’ll want to mock up your daily schedule so that the kids don’t spend eight hours watching movies, and never pick up a book. Plan the day down to the minute. If you post it throughout the house it’ll also help prevent the children from asking for a snack every 10 minutes all day long.
List things like what time they should get up, when they get all their meals and snacks, when they are allowed to have screen time and when they need to play outside, when quiet time is and when any outings and activities will occur throughout the day. Be as detailed as possible, while also being vague enough that the same schedule will work for almost every single day of your summer.
8 Screen Time Rules
If your children are old enough for screen time, then setting rules regarding technology before the summer break begins will be extremely helpful for you. Post these rules with the daily schedule where all the kids can see them. There are some great examples online, but typically requirements like they must have their chores done, have read for a certain amount of time, and have played outside are a good place to start.
Also consider taking advantage of the Screen Time settings if they have Apple devices, or other third-party apps to keep track of their technology time and keeping them safe online.
7 Chores & Allowance
One of the perks of having your kids home all summer is that there’s more time for chores! While this may not be music to your kids’ ears, the idea of earning a commission to spend on things they want may be. Do not be afraid to post their daily chores with all the other ideas above, and indicate what chores earn them money and which are required just as a member of the family.
This is also a great opportunity to start teaching children, even as young as four, about financial success. Maybe you can take a field trip to the bank throughout the break to set them up with their own bank accounts!
6 Snack Bins
Something about being home all day seems to make children ravenously hungry. Not for real food though, for snacks; so many snacks. If your children are old enough to grab food on their own you can save yourself some hassle by creating snack bins. Have one bin of fruits and vegetables, one of proteins like peanut butter, cheese, and yogurt, and one of carbs like crackers and granola bars. Allow them a certain number of snacks from each bin each day, within their scheduled snack times (see daily schedule above).
These bins will prevent children from rummaging through the fridge and pantry multiple times a day, and will allow them to fend for themselves without asking you for help!
5 Car Bins
Snack bins aren’t the only summer sanity saver, you’ll also want to pick up some dollar store tubs to use as car bins. No matter how thoroughly you plan your summer break things will always pop up while you’re already out and about, and the best gift you can give yourself is to be prepared.
Keep a bin in the car with a set of spare clothes for each of your children, and a beach towel or two, in case of a random splash pad adventure. Include a bottle of sunscreen for those trips to the park that run long, and a plastic bag and hand sanitizer for any surprise messes. If you have babies or toddlers also include some diapers and wipes. Being prepared for any spontaneous summer situation will allow you to go with the flow and take full advantage of the beautiful days.
4 Rainy Day Ideas
The majority of your summer will likely be sunny and hot, and perfect for playing outside, but what about the days that aren’t? Having a plan for rainy days ahead of time is the best way to avoid endless whining and sibling arguments when you’re cooped up in the house. Depending on your children’s ages and preferences, you could buy a few new board games to keep tucked away for a rainy day, you could visit the dollar store and pick up all kinds of arts and crafts supplies that they don’t have access to on a regular basis, or for a more modern approach you could order a monthly subscription box of activities for your children to save for those bad weather days!
When all else fails a movie day with popcorn and homemade cookies is always a hit! Whatever your plan is, you’ll be glad you have it when you wake up to grey skies and grumpy moods.
3 Learn to Let Go
Learning to let go is something many parents have trouble with, especially if they are more of a type-a personality. Ultimately these summer days are going to go however they go, whether that’s picture perfect or positively poorly. Children’s temperaments aren’t something you can control, and neither is the weather, illness, a car breakdown, or any other number of things that could throw a wrench in your plans. Being prepared is your best asset to tackle summer vacation, but don’t try to stick to your schedule so strictly that you all go crazy trying to make it happen!
Enjoy finding little pockets of magic in unexpected places, and try to roll with the punches if something goes south. You do have all summer, so you can always try again tomorrow.
2 Back-to-School Prep
While preparing for back-to-school likely isn’t something your kids are looking forward to, it is certainly an exciting time of year for parents! Sometimes shopping for school supplies, searching for deals on clothing, and planning after-school activities for the fall can brighten your spirit when you’re beginning to feel summer burnout.
Start by gathering up all the supplies from last year and see what needs replacing and what is still good. Then go through dressers and closets, pack away or donate anything that no longer fits and make a list of what each child needs for heading back in September. Have your children help with this process if they’re old enough, there are lessons to be learned about the cost of things, taking care of their belongings, being generous to those in need, and more! Finally, set aside some time to shop online or hit the stores by yourself to clear your head and reinvigorate yourself for the last few weeks of vacation.
That leads us right into self-care. Unfortunately, it often gets whittled down to something beauty-related like going for a pedicure or getting your hair done. While these are perfectly valid ways to relax and take a minute for yourself, self-care means so much more than that.
One of the most important aspects of self-care is literally taking care of yourself, the health of your mind and body. The best ways to start this process is with exercise. Be intentional with carving out some time for yourself, even if that means waking up an hour before your kids, or forgoing a TV binge after they go to bed. Go for a walk, follow a yoga video on YouTube, or hit the gym for a quick workout. The healthier your body is and happier your mind is, the more easily you will find the energy and patience you need to have an amazing summer with your children.