I love summer. No more scrambling to get the kids ready for school. No more help with homework and crazy sports schedules. Just beach weather, fireflies, bonfires, and all the things that make summer magical. I will say however, summer can be stressful when we don’t have ways to keep the kids cared for and/or busy every day until September. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, and a working mom through many a summer season, and here are my best tips to ensure a fun and less stressful summer of 2022.
Summertime Tip #1: Get Creative With Childcare
I’m not organized, or planful. My physical calendar in the kitchen is currently on March. But I’ve learned the hard way, if I don’t arrange for the kids’ entertainment or babysitting during summer, it’s not pretty. If you have little ones that need care, research local camps and summer programs early, so you don’t stress out when they’re full and you’re out of options. Lots of Christian churches run summer programs that are fun and affordable as do lots of town recreation departments. Kids can be super shy and nervous about camp, so it helps to illicit the interest of a buddy, if possible. Consider “bartering” childcare with mom friends and neighbors who might be off in the summer or paying (we call it a ‘love gift” : ). If you work from home or have an infant, making it difficult to entertain older children during the day, create clear parameters regarding when/how long they’re expected to keep themselves busy. Pre-make lunches, set up activities like the sprinkler the night before, to make the days a bit less chaotic.
Summertime Tip #2: Take a Vacay
Souring gas prices and the cost of, well, everything, can tempt us to skip the family vacation this summer. But if it’s possible to get away as a family, it’s always worth it. I grew up in a house with a super busy dad double as full-time pastor and business owner, but he was a staunch proponent of two family vacations, every year. If you can’t get away, consider taking time off from work for a family “staycation.” Especially during these technological times, when phones and devices compete for our quality time, it’s so valuable taking least one week off in the summer to bond as a family. Single moms, I know this can be economically difficult. If not this year, try saving a bit each month towards a summer getaway with the kids next year. I can remember literally paying for my sons and my last meal on vacation with singles and quarters, and I have zero regret.
Summertime Tip #3: Make A Bucket List
As we all know, the only negative aspect to summer is that it goes by too fast. Between work and vacations, picnics and parties, it’s easy to let our summer fun list slip through the cracks. But now that Covid’s over (good riddance! )it’s seriously time to make up for lost memories. Make a doable bucket list…even including the simple things like “make smores,” and check it from time to time (mine’s on the fridge) to make sure you squeeze it all in. Here are some ideas:
-Go camping. Not for the faint of heart, though!
-Sleep outside with the kids all night (we sleep on the trampoline!)
-Hike and find a river/waterfall to swim in
-Rent a lake boat for the day
-Hunt for fireflies
-Play man hunt in the dark
-Plant a garden
-Go to an outdoor concert
-Get a pedi. (nothing to do with summer but I find it brings me joy to insert on every list_/
Summertime Tip #4: Find Realistic Ways To Stay Cool
For those of us living in northern climates, it’s easy to forget how killer the heat and humidity can be, after wearing sweaters and drinking hot cocoa for nine months. We don’t have a pool, so every year, sometime in mid-June, one of those muggy 90 degree days sneaks up on our pasty selves, and drives us into the annual panic…”oh my gosh we need to get a pool!” But we don’t. And so we sweat, and regret not being nicer to the neighbors with the in-ground. There are lots of different options to keep cool… using town pools, paying for private pool passes, putting up a temporary pool in the backyard (though not aesthetically pleasing, the kids will thank you every time) setting up a mega slip and slide in the back yard, buying a beach pass if you’re near the coast, etc.
Summertime Tip # 5: Plan One-On-One Time With the Kids
Any mom with varying aged kids knows how hard it is to keep everyone happy and entertained for two months straight. Our seven-year-old loves the beach, and our 14- year old can’t stand sand. Our 11-year old hates the town pool, and the others can’t get enough. Sigh. Makes for fun vacation planning. Not to mention how quickly summer flies by…it can be easy missing fun bonding opportunities with all the kids. Consider planning special one-on-one outings and day trips with each, a few times during the summer if possible. Even something simple like taking one child out for ice cream once a week during the summer can mean a lot when you have a busy family.
Summertime Tip #6: Savor. Every. Second.
I’m sure part of my summer love stems from living in Connecticut, where the season seems to pass quicker than a hot flash, but I always feel this sense of urgency to make every second last. I try my hardest not to rush, plan or over-schedule if I don’t have to. If today was supposed to be a town pool day, and the kids protest, no problem-just set the sprinkler up in total denial of the wet, grassy feet that’ll be sliding through the house later. Eat picnic meals in the grass, take as many hikes/walks/bike rides immediately followed by ice cream, and just let yourself “be” in summertime. Go “camping” in the backyard and let ‘em run barefoot ‘til it’s dark (but only ‘til 9p.m.…this isn’t Neverland Ranch and mommy’s show starts now).
Summer is one of the few magical times left in this hurried life, so allow yourself to slow down and soak up the muggy goodness. We’ll be chasin’ down buses and searching for matching socks before you know it. May it never end, Lord.
For more summer tips check out my post “Best Tips for Moms This Summer.”