I recently took my three kids shopping with me since its summer break and I don’t have as much time for independent errands. An older lady stopped me with a sympathetic smile and asked how I was “surviving summer with my kids”. I was taken aback at first, but politely replied that we loved spending so much time together and that we were soaking up the slower days. This got me thinking about the whole surviving vs. thriving in summer topic because, while my kids occasionally drive me a little crazy with their incessant questions, as moms we should not dread spending the summers with the children that we’ve been called to raise. Summer is a great time to teach skills and create memories doing things that don’t always fit into the school calendar year. On the flip side, I realize that the days are long and if we aren’t prepared as mothers, we can get overwhelmed trying to fill so many hours.
These are some tips I have for your summer emotional toolkit, because the atmosphere of the home starts with you!
- Create Space for Quiet Time
It doesn’t matter if you have babies, teens, or everything in between, we can all benefit from quiet time. Time alone allows our bodies and emotions space to calm down before reconnecting with our families or heading out the door for evening plans. If you have littles, this might look like a good ole nap or some individual room play. Older kids benefit from reading, crafts, games, or puzzles. The Hewitt Public Library has a summer reading program where your kids can earn prizes which is great incentive and also keeps them fresh for fall.
This is your time mama to catch up on whatever you need that day. You may need a nap as well or you may just want to use that time to knock out some chores. Personally, I like to have my kids do quiet time while I do dinner prep.
2. Create Space for Responsibilities
Summer is the perfect time to teach/retrain your kids on household responsibilities. Learning a new chore and how to help out their family is beneficial for you because with everyone home, you’re sure to have more messes to clean up. This might also be a time to get them doing a little entrepreneurial work to earn some spending money. We have a clear, wipeable folder with a daily checklist that my kids have to finish every day before they can have any sort of screen time. They have to have: cleaned their rooms, done their chores, read for 30-60 minutes, and written out their verse for the week. An age-appropriate list helps both you and them keep track of responsibilities.
3. Create Space for Creativity
How many of you were brought up in the “Don’t tell me you’re bored or I’ll give you some jobs to do!” era? While this thought has its place and can be implemented occasionally, often we forget that boredom is ok! With our fast-paced and screen-obsessed society, we don’t know how to be bored anymore and allow that to feed our internal creativity. Let your kids be bored and watch how they will soon figure out a new game or activity to spend time doing. Kids need daily outdoor play, fresh air, and sunshine to maintain good health.
Now the creativity part comes into play here for you too, mama! With a less rigid schedule, try saying “yes” more this summer! Yes to some late nights. Yes to that extra treat. Yes to that last minute event someone invited you to. Summer is a time to relax and have fun with your kids! They will forever cherish those unexpected memories.
4. Create Space for Your Spouse
Remember, before these precious kids came along, it was just you and your spouse. That relationship is what your family was built on, and it needs constant nurturing throughout the seasons of the year. I don’t know about y’all, but even though I’m home with my kids from 7:15-5:30, the second my husband walks through the door and starts telling me about his day, suddenly all three of my kids have incessant questions for me. We had to create space for just my husband and I to catch up, reminding my kids that unless its an emergency, their questions can wait 15 minutes while mom and dad connect. Your spouse needs to know that they are important and what they have to say has value. You might also have things that you need to talk to your spouse about by this point in the day.
I also encourage you to find a sitter a few times this summer for you to go out on date night. Revisit a favorite restaurant, or be spontaneous and try something new! Even if you just take an hour and go for a nice walk, this investment in your relationship is vital and children feel safe knowing their parents are connecting emotionally.
5. Create Space for Healthy Meals
It is important to me to feed my kids healthy meals, but gosh if I could have a full-time chef cook for me daily I’d be one happy camper. I’ve had to learn to enjoy cooking, and for some reason in the summer, it seems as if I’m feeding an army that is constantly starving! A few things that help me be organized and able to enjoy my days is to meal plan and order curbside on Mondays. This way I’m not rushing around my kitchen at 4pm wondering what to make for dinner and frustrated that I don’t have any meat thawing. On grocery pickup day, wash and prep all of your fruit and snacks for the week. Make these healthy snacks easily accessible in your fridge and pantry so kids can quickly grab something for themselves when the mid-morning or mid-afternoon hunger hits them.
My other tip is to start the day off with a nutritious meal that includes protein. Starting the day with a good breakfast helps everyone physically be ready for the day’s events.
When my three were toddlers, my husband used to point out that they fed off of my emotions, whether those were happy or stressed feelings. I’ve realized that he’s completely correct. We are all imperfect humans and when we spend all day with tiny, imperfect humans who mimic us, we can sometimes end up in a state of overwhelm. I hope that these tips are helpful for you as you cultivate a wonderful set of memories for your family this summer, and that you remember that every day is a fresh new start!