Summer vacation is a double-edged sword for stay-at-home or work-at-home parents of school kids. We’re so excited to have them home. We’ve missed them all year while they’ve been off at school! Now we can spend the quality time together we’ve been craving for months. But somewhere along the way we all start to drive each other nuts. Today I’m going to talk about 7 ways to enjoy summer with kids. The whole summer. My goal is to make you sad when school starts again. You’re welcome.
Why do we love summer break?
We love the abundance of time we get to spend together. We love the millions of options we have to fill up our time. In Seattle, we love that there’s just so darn much sun. I know I feel great about sleeping in a little bit late every day.
So, what drives us crazy?
The abundance of time together sometimes means more fighting amongst our kids. They miss their friends and, as a day-time empty nester, I miss spending time with MY friends. There are a lot of hours to fill and only so much parental energy. It’s tempting to let our kids waste all of their time glued to screens. The lack of structure can make for a slew of lazy days where the time feels wasted. THE MESS. When we’re all home together all day every day, mini disasters can pile up faster than you can say “Slip ‘N Slide.”
What can we do about it?
1. Keep a Schedule
You don’t have to be super rigid about this, but do your best to maintain a schedule for the summer. Have a consistent wake-up time and bedtime and put routines in place. Obviously during these vacation months there will be exceptions, but make them just that… exceptions. This will help the kids know what to expect and give you some parental down-time to look forward to each night.
2. Wake up Before Your Kids
This may not be possible, depending on your kids’ sleep schedules, but do it if you can. Starting the day with some mellow time, a cup of tea on the front porch or half an hour of yoga, could be just the thing to nurture yourself before you spend the day on mom duty. If your kids wake up super early, work out a schedule with your spouse or a friend so you get to squeeze in a little bit of quality alone time at the start of each day.
3. Schedule Quiet Time
Whether your kids are 2 or 16, parenting can be over-stimulating. Schedule a time each day where you can all be still and relax. Naps are epic if you can make them happen. But, if not, make sure to schedule some time throughout the day where everyone can be quiet and decompress. Even mom. Especially mom.
4. Keep it Simple
Try to think of activities the kids will love that are inexpensive and low-stress for you. Rather than packing them up every day to go to a waterpark or museum, I like to spend a chunk of my days at a local park or beach. I take them somewhere safe where they can run around and enjoy the outdoors and I can relax and read a book. These activities are free, we all love them, and no one minds the repetition. Don’t overcomplicate your life by doing things you think you “should” do all summer.
5. Let’s Go to the Movies
So, this one’s not an overarching summer guideline but it’s one of my favorite summer activities with kids. Look online for cheap summer movie schedules near you. There are several theaters within a reasonable driving distance of our house that offer practically free show times once or twice a week. Sometimes they’re crazy and crowded and other times we’ve practically had the theatre to ourselves. Either way, you get a couple of hours to sit down and relax with your kids in an air-conditioned room. There’s nothing bad about that.
6. Give Love
No one’s showering your kids with love as they navigate the halls of their schools. My job during the summer months is to pour all the love I can into my elementary, middle school, and high school aged kids. They need it. And I need it. I feel so much more joy and connection to my kids unconditional love is my primary purpose in every interaction. This is a good goal year-round, obviously, but it sometimes gets hard to maintain day-in and day-out ALL DAY during the summer. It’s worth it though. And this next idea while help you keep it up.
7. Journal Gratitude
This may be the most important one. You have such a small window to raise children in your home and those years are sprinkled with these short weeks or months each summer of intense time together. Don’t wish them away. Take time each night to focus on what you love about your children, what you’re grateful for during this season of your life. This really helps put the popsicle-stained shirts and sibling bickering in perspective.
May your summer be filled with love, patience, popsicles, dirt and board games! I’d love to hear what you plan to do to make the most of these precious weeks with your small people.