Mom’s Summer Survival Guide
So, you made it through the school year…the artwork, the homework, the carpools, the filed trips…you did it, mom! Summer camp is a few weeks off and that summer vacation feels a million miles away…now, what???
Not surprisingly, I have gotten a few requests to write a blog about the summer dilemma. Even seasoned moms are at a loss every summer as to how to fill the time, and more importantly, not go crazy!
In order to put together the best survival guide that I could, I sought out the best advice out there from moms with teens to newborns. I got a lot of feedback from moms on how they have survived summers past. Most of these ideas (though great ones!) mainly focused on getting the kids engaged, occupied, entertained and tired out. Many of the ideas (besides the hilarious “lots of wine” comments) lacked de-stressing themes, plans, or tips for the mommy. Hm.
This is a survival guide for MOMs, not kids. We have all watched our toddler whack their head incredibly hard, cry for 30 seconds, and carry on with the day. I’m certain that same impact would ruin my day…maybe my week.
My point? Kids are resilient, flexible and can find a good time in a garbage dump. The summer is a great time to take advantage of these traits. The truth is your kids will probably be just fine no matter what kind of summer comes. It’s you that needs a little attention for once. Let’s focus just a bit on what works for mom and trust me, it’ll magically work just as well for the nuggets. Like my two year old would say, “Happy Everybody!”
Take Advice from the Experts
Who is the expert on Planned Activities for Kids: Schools and Camps, of course! These organizations have it down. Here we have every minute planned in advance and for the whole season! Now, this isn’t realistic for all day every day for three months. But, there are a couple of good lessons to be learned here. First, these guys usually work in week long increments. What does this mean for moms? Summer Theme Weeks!
Feel free to outright rip them off. At my kids camp, they have a Water Week, a Wilderness Week, and even a Superhero Week. You may also want to get a little creative. Some cool theme weeks could be:
Things We Always Wanted to Try Week
Exploring the City’s Parks/Recreation Week
Or center a Theme Week around a particular kid…every kid gets a week/day/morning to do whatever they would like the whole family to get in on.
Before you get out your calendar, pick up a few local rags and see what’s out there just for kids, that also may be fun for you. This way you don’t miss out on any fun, potentially free, and already planned out activities that are probably way less hassle, as well.
If You Want it to Pan Out, Plan it Out!
The other thing that we can learn from schools and camps is their impeccable planning skills. Many of us could use a few lessons on planning our schedules. I have Mommy Workshops for this!
For now, know this: if you really want to finally put that baby book together and all of the fixin’s are right inside your bedroom door, you will feel bad every time you lay eyes on that pile of “I should be doing.”
If you have a plan on when you’re going to do it, even if you have scheduled it for October 5, 2014, your brain will forgive you. It will simply stop hassling you. I mean it. You can walk passed those milestones day in and day out without an iota of bad feelings or guilt. Your brain LOVES plans. So, make them!
Make a whole plan for the month in week increments. Detail them. Get on the horn with other moms or send out emails regarding open slots for theme play dates.
Don’t forget evenings…your job is to survive the summer, not just during the daytime when you’re alone with the kids.
I am having an early evening, dinner (mac and cheese for kids and salads for moms)/water party myself tomorrow. Yes, the kids are pumped but here’s the bonus, I can’t wait either!
This brings me to my next point…
Stop thinking so much about the kids, already!
You’re a mom, not a martyr, ladies! Make sure your theme weeks cater to you and what you want to do, too. I love that one of my moms suggested the pool as a great way to spend the summer, not because kids love the water, blah, blah, blah, but because she then gets to sport an awesome tan. Ha!
What have you wanted to do and haven’t? Of these activities are they’re any that you could do with the kids?
Got a Mindfulness Week or a Physical Activities Week coming up? For once, go ahead and be ok with only thinking about how you might want to spend that time. Who cares if one kid likes soccer and another likes basketball. What do YOU like, mom?
Is yoga your thing? Do you want it to be? Call a local yoga studio and ask about an in home yoga class for mommies and kids (if you’re in Atlanta, let me know, I know just the teacher for the job). Invite a bunch of mommies to enjoy and kick in and everybody wins.
How about a vision board? In the land of Google, vision boards are limitless. This is a super fun way to get to know another side of your kids and cater to visualizing what you want in your life, mom. Simply buy some poster board and fill it up with all you want to be, have and do. Glue sticks and pictures? Your kids will eat this up!
Summertime + Extra Time = Reconnection Time!
Use the summer as an opportunity to actually follow up with action to the incessant, “we should have a play date,” or the “we really should get together sometime,” comments that you’ve made all through the school year.
Call or email these moms. They are in the exact same boat you are. Also, why not schedule play dates and get togethers in the late afternoon or evening? This way you can also catch up with mommies that may have work schedule difficulties or just a different schedule than you because your kids might not be the same age. You could also bring along the daddies and partners that may want to get in on a little social summer hangouts.
Consider a play date swap. This will leave you with one less kid, which may be an opportunity to reconnect with your little one. When the time comes to take on someone else’s kid, it can often be a little break in disguise too, as this new little guy will likely occupy one or more of your little guys, as well.
Remember, you are making all the plans, mom. Take a minute, and really think about you. I know you’ll want to make a date with one of your kids’ friends even if you’re sure you have nothing in common with the other mommy. I know you’ll want to go to the park because your one kid could swing all day even though this makes you nauseous in the heat. But, what will you plan that works for you???
Want to surround yourself with moms? Find a meetup group or a local mommy’s night out and get in on the camaraderie.
While you’re assessing your calendar, get grandparents and other relatives in on the action. Their “time with the kids” means a free sitter. Or, just pawn off one kid for an afternoon or day. It makes a HUGE difference! Plus, the kids get a little more one and one time with you or someone that they love. It makes them feel special and lessons the load on you.
(Here’s one of mine with Uncle Jason at Stone Mountain Park)
Why not schedule it out way in advance? Plan to actually do something alone or with your partner during these times. Do a quick search, is your favorite guitar player coming to town this summer? Buy tickets now, and have something to look forward to. There is nothing wrong with having events planned way out in advance. We all know the value of waiting for Grandma’s visit. That way, we all get to enjoy a little something to look forward to.
What about others ways to get in on a free or super cheap sitter? A lot of businesses that cater to kids have a parent’s night out. Try the local inflatable fun house (here in Atlanta, Leapin’ Lizards has one), your YMCA or church.
Here’s a novel idea…why not schedule some (dare I say it?) alone time. Yep. Alone time. Rare, I know. If you’re following my advice you and your husband or partner already have a joint calendar. Randomly choose some evenings when Dad comes home early and you’re outta there!
Better yet…schedule some sexy “alone” time with your partner. Couples that schedule sex are more likely to have it and nothing will reconnect you faster than some one on one time (literally!).
Speaking of the luxury of alone time, think about planning a weekend trip alone. Put it far out there in calendar so you have the time to get the resources together to make it truly happen. A road trip to a friend’s house that doesn’t have kids is an added bonus.
Don’t Wimp Out Before You Even Start!
Default mode is what will drive you crazy in the summer. If you don’t know what’s cookin’, no one will. Vague plans and lazy days will come so it’s important that some of your plans are really planned out.
The key here is simple: plan to plan. Put it in your calendar, NOT your to do list. Carve out a specific time in your schedule that you will do a little planning. If a fever or a unexpected errand comes up, you can always reschedule it. Just start with a realistic time that makes sense to gear up for a fun summer!
Never balk on making concrete and specific plans because you may have to change them. Yes, you may. But, plan as though it’s set in stone or at least clay. You’re more apt to stick to it and follow through. An initial plan is key.
Remember, in general, your brain is less stressed out when there’s a plan. It doesn’t matter if it’s vague or if you have to change it. I welcome a little spontaneity and flexibility! Just know that an initial plan, something to work with, will have you feeling more relaxed, in control and generally feeling happier.
Every single time you think of something that appeals to you or a good idea that you hear, open up a new note, or record it into your reminders. Snapping pictures works, too. You’ll never be at a loss for nothing to do if Siri is keeping some good ideas for you. I have a lot of cool ideas like this one in my workshops, by the way 🙂
Again, Make It About You, Mommy
I am The Stress Therapist for MOMS. I’m not here to tell you how to feed or sleep your kid, what carseats to use or what foods to avoid. I’m here for YOU, mama. So, listen up! Let me help you make your life a little better. All that love that you feel for those little nuggets is just as beautiful and necessary when you point a little inward.
So, don’t forget your “FREE” time. A LOT of moms say that when they finally get some alone time, they end up running around in circles without a plan. Come to find out at the end of their free time, they did absolutely nothing.
Again, plan this time. Even if it’s vague. “I’m going shopping.” “I’m treating myself to a lunch out alone.” “I’m reading.” Even, “I’m laying on this lounger and doing nothing.” It’s ok if your free time is occasionally riddled with birthday party planning or researching schools, but make sure that when you step back and look at your calendar, it includes shopping online for new tennis shoes, or a tennis lesson or something that is just for you, mom.
I have an automatic payment that goes to a salon for a massage every month. Every single month, I hear myself boo hoo the idea, or say to myself, “I don’t have time for a massage!” But still, every month I go…mainly because I am forced to (because I already paid for it!), and every month I am grateful for the experience and happy that I did. If you have to force yourself, so be it. In the end, you’re a happier mommy.
I so hope this was helpful to you. Since when do moms know every single thing there is to know about anything? I think we’d all agree, never. So, if you have a cool idea to add, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make sure that my mommies see it.
Have a lovely, super fun-filled summer!