Sorry for my absence this week. So much of it has to do with the title of this post. We are in full summer mode which makes blogging a little bit more difficult. I was chatting with my girlfriends about how there is definitely an art to pulling off a smooth summer without everyone losing their minds. Look, I know that in a perfect world, having the children home for the summer would be the most magical experience ever and everyone would be frolicking in the sun without a complaint or argument in sight. And if that describes your summer than you are seriously one lucky mama. Our reality is a bit different.
My children are 8 and 10 and with those ages comes more assertiveness, freedom and tendency to argue. Like a lot. And really the word argue is quite strong but it’s more like heated discussions over very important things like who is putting away the placemats, why one person looked at the other, and whether or not they should take the donut raft or boogie board to the pool. It’s big stuff, people. I actually was getting quite annoyed with the amount of bickering so my husband did some research ( we are nerds like that) and apparently, when observed, siblings often disagree as often as every two minutes. Whew. We are normal. LOL.
So in keeping our summer sane and hopefully yours too, I thought I would share just a few tips that are really starting to give structure to our days and keep things running a bit more smoothly over here.
TIP #1: IMPLEMENT A SCHEDULE:
We don’t schedule the kiddos for a lot of camps. I suppose if you did than you have this part of your summer taken care of. Because we have them home for most of the summer we have realized that a schedule is key. Nothing too hard-core, but after they lazily wake up and lounge around for a bit we have a “straighten your room” time. That’s when they make their beds, make sure teeth are brushed and rooms are tidy. And by the way, this schedule is more in my head than any written down law and it just makes me have a way to go about the day without hearing, “I’m bored” or “Now what?”
We head out for some morning outdoor activity. Whether it’s a bike ride, a hike or a trip to the beach it’s something outdoors. The fresh air is so great for everyone and keeps the kids active. Lunch is either something I have packed to take with us or we come back and have a simple lunch here. And there is nothing fancy about lunch during the summer! Keep it simple, moms. Luckily the amazing summer fruits help, too. So fresh and good this time of year.
After lunch we normally run an errand or my son may go to Taekwando. And if we don’t head out for an errand or two we fold laundry or get something done around here. Both kids are avid readers and often use this time to do that and I can get a few things done around the house. And I am totally fine with them watching one if their favorite tv shows, too.
Then it’s more outdoor time. The beauty of summer. Either playing with neighborhood friends or riding bikes. And lately we have been heading to the pool in the evening and showering the kids at the pool so that when they come home everyone is ready for bed. Works out so well that way.
Like I said, it’s a loose schedule and yours will differ based on age, but it’s just really nice to have the day planned out a bit. I didn’t do this the first week and it was a lot of together time with a lot more frustration because I didn’t know the best way to navigate the day.
TIP #2: ADD MORE RESPONSIBILITIES
This really works at any age, but we have seen such a difference in the kids’ demeanor the more we give them to do. They immediately light up to know they have a new family responsibility. Look, we all like to be needed and feel like we can contribute something, right? Kids are the same way. So for the summer, they are responsible for clearing the table after every meal and putting their dishes in the dish washer. They also help take out the trash and straighten up their rooms every morning. I am getting so much better about asking them to help with day-to-day things I normally try to handle all myself. And wow. What a difference. Even for me to have the help is awesome. Just the other day my daughter organized the game closet and rocked it. So nice to have something get accomplished and I didn’t do it!! My daughter also wants to cook with me now so I am teaching her a new recipe once a week.
TIP #3: SNACK BASKETS
If you are a long time reader of mine than you know this is something I do and have been doing for years. Now that the children are older I let them have more of a say in choosing their snacks. Simply put, I used to get so annoyed with the constant, “Can I have a snack?” line that would spill from their mouths every five seconds during summer. I am being dramatic but you all know what I am talking about. So I started putting bins out on the counter and in the refrigerator every morning. It’s very simple and life changing. They get three dry snacks and three fresh snacks for the day. When their snacks are gone, they’re gone. Yes, in the beginning they would plow through them. But it didn’t take them long to self-regulate and there is something about them being easily accessible that the kids just love. And I know I don’t have to be a short order snack cook throughout the day. It really has helped tremendously.
TIP #4: GET BACK TO THE BASICS
Maybe this last tip is just to make myself feel better that I am not super mom taking her kids to Disneyland, museums, and road trips on a weekly basis, but we are back to the basics. It’s ok for summer to be simple. Simple can be just as much fun. The kids are planning a lemonade stand with their neighborhood friends. They are planning to do s’mores soon. We ride bikes. We sit around and play games. We lounge in pajamas. We do nothing. We read. We swim a whole heck of a lot. We head to the beach and stay for only a couple of hours (not one to do the marathon day). We let the kids make dinner (because they want to). We BBQ. We just try to enjoy the less hectic summer and relax. And taking the pressure off and letting the kids enjoy a good old fashion summer is pretty good in my book.
Tip #4: MAKE IT AT HOME
Anyone feel like they start spending more money during the summer? Ugh. I do sometimes because we are out and about and it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to do something special for the kids or take them to get treats. All fine and dandy but it can get out of control very quickly.
Although it seems easier to hop in the car and go grab lunch or a treat, I am finding that it’s much better to learn to make some of our favorite treats at home. And if you get the kids involved it can be a teachable moment as well as a money-saving one. We love açai bowls from our local Nectar but recently discovered that Albertsons carried frozen açai packets and they are fantastic. I add frozen fruit and a cup of milk to blend it. Then I top it with fresh fruit, granola and peanut butter. Soooooo good. The kids eat every last bite.
Can any of you relate to any of this or do you have this summer thing down? I always wonder if I am the only one who struggles a bit in the beginning to hit a stride. I beg all year for summer to arrive and then it’s a bit of a shock. But it’s been so much more smooth and enjoyable for us with taking a step back and implementing these tips. Let me know some of your tips and tricks, please. Mamas need to stick together!
I can totally relate to this! I actually have a post drafted about this topic for next week! After only a few days of having my son home all day and every day, I realized we needed a loose schedule. And it’s funny because he only just started preschool and it’s only 2 mornings a week. But it gave us structure to our days and meant the days he was at home were for excursions and play dates. Now everyday is a free for all! I find having the pool to go to the key to having a laid back summer without so many “plans”. Instant entertainment!
Such great tips (snacks!!!) and so nice to hear that I’m not the only one who struggles to keep two young ones busy. I can especially relate to the success of giving kids jobs to do, be responsible for and be proud of. They DO love to help and feel needed. Also, once they’ve done something to help, they realize the work involved and tend to keep it tidy. They have an “ah ha” moment if you will !! Its a great time to teach these ever so important life skills. Happy Summer !!
Sally Myers says
What are your favorite board games? I need to refresh my stash!
Lori McEvoy says
Hi Courtney! Love your blog! Wondering and hoping you will do a back-to-school shopping trip for your kids clothes when the time comes? Love all your ideas and suggestions, you are beautiful and I love your positive attitude that comes across in all your posts! Happy loosely planned summer!
I like your snack basket idea. I’ve taken to using the “you can have something that grows” reply when the incessant requests come in. I like the idea of doing them up ahead of time though. If dry snacks are on the menu then pre-portioning them is a must!
I do recall your snack bins, but I love the 3 fresh/3 dry rule. And having them self-regulate? Brilliant! Just last week I started including a “to-do” item for each child that is not part of their regular routine. Today’s was to write a thank you note to their grandparents for that “just because” gift they dropped by the house. I need to keep up with those to do’s for them. I definitely notice a difference. 🙂
So timely, as always! We have boys the same age as your son and daughter and this is the first summer ever that I’ve been home the entire time with them….they are doing 4 weeks of camp (three academic, 1 flag football) and they are on swim team, so the desire to create a schedule and fun for them is a huge focus…..I laughed at your comment about creating food at home since they seem to think that there’s an endless stream of cash for eating out….I’m now limiting one lunch out per week as a treat with the rest of the meals at home, which helps them have something to look forward to 🙂 It feels nice knowing that we are not the “only” families striving for balance this summer…and congratulations on finding your new home….we purchased a larger home last summer and it was such a wonderful decision….we moved within our neighborhood too and it has worked out really well minus some serious cleaning and updating 🙂