In just a few short weeks, my children will have completed another year of school. Months of buzzing alarms, class projects, book assignments, and after-school schedules will give way to sleeping past 6:30 (I hope), pool days, and summertime adventures with the neighborhood kids. I know eventually I will enjoy this slower pace of summer, but with four kids under one roof all day for three months, summer “break” often brings more anxious feelings than happy ones. This year, I’m determined to make the most of these dog days. I’m sharing some tried and true methods to get through summer break with a smile still on your face!
Set a schedule. For the mom who works during the summer, your calendar is your lifeline. Your children will attend camps or have sitters throughout the summer while you work and make time for play. Write all your events down on a calendar and put it where everyone in your family can see it. I am in love with my new Lindsay Letters’ quarterly calendar my hubby gave me for Mother’s Day this year. Seeing our schedule three months at a time is best for work trips, camps, and weekend plans.
For the mom who stays home during the summer, your schedule will look a bit different. Your children are with you; no need for camps and sitters (although I still think they’re a great idea!), but some sort of summer routine can still be helpful. Maybe your crew goes to the library every Tuesday afternoon. Or you go to the community pool on Monday and Wednesday mornings. One mom just told me that the consistency of her children’s swim team is hugely helpful to her during the summer. Children, no matter how laid back, thrive on routine. By loosely planning weekly activities, everyone has a better idea of how they’ll be spending their time.
Build in rest. I don’t know about you, but I hit a wall every day around 2 o’clock. Our children can experience an afternoon slump too, especially with hard play that so often coincides with summer. No matter how old, invite your crew to enjoy some quiet time in the afternoons reading a book or playing in their rooms. Then you can spend some time decompressing, too. Every afternoon, whether at work or at home, I recharge with an Arbonne fizzie. I’ll put an energy fizz stick into a 32 oz bottle of cold water, and add a squeeze of lime. It perks me right up and I’m good until dinner.
Aim for unity. One of the things I find most difficult about summer break is sibling infighting. Oh, it kills me. If we’re not careful, the battles can become constant and that isn’t good for anybody’s state of mind. Each summer, we make a kindness chart. We write the kids’ names on a poster board, buy a bunch of star stickers, and come up with the incentive that works best in our house: cold hard cash. If the children earn 40 stars, for example, by exhibiting acts of kindness toward each other, they get a pay out of $20 to be used during our end-of-summer family vacation. The more stars, the bigger the payout. At the end of the day, we’re giving the kids money we would likely be using to buy trinkets for them on vacation anyway. With the kindness chart in place, my babes are aiming for unity one star—and dollar— at a time.
Don’t neglect yourself. I love the ease of summer. Throwing on shorts and a tee shirt, or an easy sundress, and going minimal on makeup and hair is the BEST. But don’t let those days of heat and sun beat you up. I try to sneak away for pedicures once a month in the summer because my exposed feet can show wear and tear pretty fast. Carving out time for yourself is a must for tired mamas, whether it’s stealing away with a good book, going to a workout class, or taking extra time on the beach after the babes go in for a nap with your hubby. I also believe in letting natural beauty shine through in the summer. I allow my hair to take on a wave that only comes with heat and humidity. And I love a tinted moisturizer, mascara, and a light lip for a 2-minute summer face.
Be prepared. During this time of year, friend dates can spring up on the fly. Play structures are calling and bodies of water are beckoning. Be prepared for unexpected side trips while you are out and about. Pack sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, a few pool towels, and a pack of wipes to get all the dirt and grime off after a romp on the playground. Toss a few non-melting snacks in your purse in case the kids get hungry while you’re away from home.
Here’s to summer break! I hope this one is your best yet!