A guide to surviving summer with kids
Ah yes. Summer. Summer with kids. Chances are, if you’re a mom with kids who still think you’re cool, you have googled ‘summertime activities with kids’. Maybe you even have a cute schedule of what types of things you’ll do by weekday. Maybe you have a membership to every zoo and park around, or maybe you have a camp picked for every week. Heads up, I am not ones of those moms. And you will not leave this post with a craft idea for every day in July. Sorry, not sorry.
Nope! Instead, we are going to talk straight up SURVIVAL. Because, let’s be honest, after about 6 hours of summer I’m ready to pay someone to pad my walls and build a moat around my house so I can just let them run wild. Since I can’t do that let me tell you my top tips for what you CAN do. (Aka what’s legal.)
Survival Tip 1: Screens are not the enemy
OH MY GOD! MOM SACRILEGE! But for real, sometimes you need to shower. Or eat. Or not be harassed for ONE. MORE. SNACK. So I let them have screens. Personally, taking some magnificent field trip every day sounds like torture to me, so we spend at least one day at home for every day we’re out and about. And you know what? On those days we screen. Yes, I just made it into a verb.
Video games have improved my 6-year-old’s reading and spelling (weird how you can’t get search results if you can’t spell words, right?). Blaze has gotten the 4-year-old talking about friction. It’s not ALL bad, and I’m not going to be the screen police every day. Yes, our kindles have time limits and turn off at a certain hour. Yes, I have a password on the TV for On-demand. With parental controls, screens are just fine. So my kids get screens. And you know what? Since they know that they’ll be able to play on them pretty much whenever while at home… they’re not totally horrible about the times I tell them they can’t.
Survival Tip 2: Honor the routine
I’m talking about keeping things GENERALLY predictable. Eat around the same times each day, make bedtime at least a little consistent, and limit the summer snack attacks. My kids typically go to bed between 7:30 -8:30 and wake up between 6-7. We eat meals around 8, 11:30, and 6. With some snacks thrown in there when appropriate based on what they actually ate at mealtime. This is our typical schedule no matter where we are or what we’re doing. You don’t have to have every minute scheduled out, but if they have a general idea of a few key things like food and sleep, other hiccups are handled a little bit better. Summer with kids can throw lots of wrenches into routines, so the simpler the better.
Survival Tip 3: Find your people
Your kids will have their friends, and if you’re lucky they may even get to go over their house WITHOUT YOU sometimes. But for some weird reason ‘play dates’ now usually include us moms too. So find at least one person that you can sit with and awkwardly stare at each other for a few hours a week without it totally sucking. Bonus if your kids like each other. My kids tend to like spending time with other kids, and because people are weird now, I can’t just send them down the street. I have to go too. Thank GOD I love my neighbors! But for real, you’re going to have to socialize with your kids. So find a few people you don’t hate and foster that relationship like the gold that it is.
Survival Tip 4: Do they REALLY need a bath?
I mean, do they? Do they really? If I have doused them in bug spray and sunscreen, sure. I’ll clean them. But if they got a little sweaty, or maybe they didn’t even go outside, why bother? Unless the next day we are doing something special that requires them to be presentable… IT’S SUMMER! Even more important its summer WITH KIDS! Who the F cares?! AS long as they are bathing 2-3 times a week, just let it go. I do have these really need body clothes from Norwex that we use daily, however. I wipe those little suckers down and send them to bed. It’s glorious. It’s summer! Do less. A lot less.
Survival Tip 5: Simplify the menu
Kids are notorious for ruining an otherwise beautiful meal. Come mid-July I want to throw frozen chicken nuggets and them and go hide in the bathroom. So what do I do? I find 5 meals that work and I rotate them. Sometimes I break my own ‘ I only make one dinner rule’ and make something my husband and I like, but the kids don’t. We eat like kings and they eat… leftovers. Or nuggets. Or PB&J. Sometimes, after a long day of battling them, I just don’t care anymore. And that’s ok! It’s summer with kids! Plus, as Juice Plus kids, I know they’re getting fruits and veggies every day anyway. Buh-bye mom guilt!
Survival Tip 6: Remember who YOU are
You are their PARENT. Not their friend/ entertainer/ short-order cook/ personal assistant. You get to say no. They get to be bored. You get to sit down and read a book while they find something to do. Or, dare I say, while they play video games. If you are concerned enough about your kids to be googling things to do with them, then you are a freaking badass who parents like a warrior princess. Someone should get you a cupcake and rub your feet. I mean it! You do not have to cater to every whim your kids have! Let them get bored! Let them fight! Let them say you’re not as fun as someone else’s mom! So what?!
Survival Tip 7: Lower your expectations
Oh, this one crushes my soul. I have HIIIIIIIGH expectations for myself, my home, and my children’s behavior. Years of therapy have finally gotten it through my thick skull that sometimes you just have to lower the bar. Summer is one of those times. Toys will be on the floor, it will be loud, things will get broken, there will be fights, and you might not get in a run for a couple of months (Yep, talking about myself on that last one!)
What can you let go of? Can you be ok with the fire truck at your feet? Can you tune out the Nickelodeon screeching in the background? Can you let your kids yell at each other and not get involved? If you have something that is a hard no, honor it. If it’s more like ‘I’d really like it if you didn’t do that’ then just let it go. Summer won’t last forever, I promise.
This goes for activities too. You might start out the summer with a list a mile long of all the things you want to do and places you want to be. It’s ok not to do it all.
Survival Tip 8: Teach them something useful
My 4-year-old is the only true extrovert in our house. He wants someone to not only be paying attention to him, but actively engaging with him AT ALL TIMES. He may or may not be hanging on me AT THIS VERY MOMENT. (Hint: he is.) He asks me to play everything, so I flipped it and turned it into ‘let’s play laundry/ dishes/ vacuuming, etc. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but he’s learning real-life skills!
And his brother? This summer he has learned to shower by himself, and is actively learning about saving money. He’s also learning about charging electronics because he really doesn’t like it when the Xbox controllers don’t work.
Whatever your kid is interested in, or is willing to do, teach them! When their home more during summer it’s a great time to let natural consequences take place or to include them in daily chores. For me personally, summer allows more time which means I am more patient.
Survival Tip 9: Not all summers are the same
This can mean a few different things. This year your summer may be nothing like it was last year. Your summer this year will also be totally different from Glenda’s. There is no WRONG way to do summer. Stay at home every day? Cool. Have a craft and field trip planned for every day? Also cool. Feeling guilty because someone else’s summer looks cooler than yours? Not cool. Stop it. They might be going everywhere and doing all the things, but that mama may not have slept this week. Stay in your own summer lane.
Here’s the thing they don’t tell you about summer with kids. It’s YOUR summer too. Your happiness also matters. So make sure you have yourself built in there somewhere too.
Now go survive the rest of your summer with kids!
I’ll admit, this post would have been better written a month or two ago, but now that I’m in the middle of summer with my own kids, I needed the reminder. Let things go, remember you are a person too, and keep in mind that there is no WRONG way to do summer. I’m super good at writing posts to myself. But I hope it helps you too!