No matter what version of motherhood you’re rocking, whether you work from home, stay at home, homeschool, work outside the home or rock some combination of them all – enjoying summer with your kids can be tough when we transition from school days! I’ve tackled 5 summers with 4+ kiddos ranging from teen to infant and I’m here to tell you that you can, in fact, enjoy summer with your kids and still get stuff done!
I feel like we tend to look at the end of the school year with dread sometimes. Let’s be honest, the quiet and productivity and ability to have full thoughts is nice during school hours.
BUT, I honestly cringe inside when I hear parents say that they hate having their kids home in the summer because we as parents only have so much time with our kids! I think that feeling often comes up when parents are stressed out, overwhelmed, overworked, and haven’t planned ahead or set up boundaries.
And that’s what I’m here to help you do. Let’s make your summer more purposeful so that you can enjoy summer with your kids and still get stuff done – no matter what type of mama you are!
Is it possible to enjoy summer with your kids and still get stuff done?
In short… why yes, yes it is! I nannied for 5 years and have one son and a daughter on the way – so our summers have looked differently each year. I have an education background and love structure, but I’ve learned over the years that the best summers involve a carefully crafted balance of both rhythm and flexibility. When I think about planning a more purposeful, thriving summer – rather than just surviving it – these are the 8 tips that come to mind. I’d love to hear yours in the comments!
Brainstorm as a Family
Sit down with your kids (we like to chat over snack time because…FOOD) and ask them what ideas they have for activities, outings, etc. Get them excited about summer and involve them in the process. We usually brainstorm activities that fall roughly into these categories:
I’ve done this with my kiddos every year. Each year as summer approached, they’d volunteer ideas for the list without me even saying anything!
Cultivate a Quiet Time Routine
This is major, especially if you need to get some work done or have multiple kids. This is my lifesaver no matter the time of year and regardless of your parenting style a version of this can be implemented!
When I nannied and took my little man to work with me, I worked to have the littles naps coincide. They would both go down between 12/12:30 and sleep for a couple hours. If one woke up, they would either play quietly or watch a show until 3/3:30. The older kids got quiet play time in their rooms or technology time IF their chores/daily work was complete. This guaranteed about 3 hours of (fairly) uninterrupted work time for me.
When they were younger, I trained them to do this and because I started early it’s now second nature to them. (Let’s be honest, we all benefit from some peace and quiet.)
Tip: When your toddlers start to outgrow naps, give them quiet play activities that they can do independently. If you have a kiddo who struggles with this, try quiet time boxes. It takes some work at first because you have to teach your littles how to play independently (and how to play with the items in the bins) but over time it works really well! My kiddos would play for a bit and put themselves in bed if they were tired (or ya know…pass out in the floor).
Don’t over think things! If you love daily activities and find joy in doing lots of projects with your kids – do them! If the thought of having to do arts and crafts for days makes you want to freak out – then pick one 30 minute slot once a week and let your kids go nuts. What I’m saying is, don’t over complicate things. Summer should be fun and relaxing for you AND your kids. Use Pinterest
for ideas but don’t let it dictate how your summer will go.
As I get further into this mom gig, I’m finding that I need to limit myself and set up boundaries so that I don’t over schedule myself. I am learning the value of leaving time and brain space for fun. Because I have the blessing of working from home, I either write ahead or slow down with posting on my blog.
I don’t schedule as many jewelry events
, and I try to block out weekends that don’t have anything going on so we can be a family. We don’t try to cram everything in to a day or into a summer.
I am learning that the best thing I can offer my family is my full self – my attention, my focus, my time.
I am sometimes bad about turning the computer off at 3 when my little man gets up and then I’m distracted and constantly running back and forth. I find myself barking at him more and it’s usually not because he is misbehaving more than usual. It’s typically because I’m distracted and on some level feel annoyed that I’m being interrupted. Which is all kinds of backwards. SO, I’m getting better at keeping those boundaries in place. If I say I’m going to be done working at a certain time, the computer goes off and the phone goes away (if possible) so that I can focus on being M-O-M.
Opt for rhythm over rigidity
Your kids aren’t perfect and neither are you. There will be days when the plan goes out the window. Some days you may want put on a movie so that you can clean the house or get to your emails. And that’s okay! I’ll get to the details in the next sections, but planning ahead, prioritizing, and having a flexible rhythm rather than a set-in-stone schedule really helps to keep you on track. Knowing what’s on your calendar helps you keep white space, prevents over commitment, and helps you accomplish what’s actually important.
Set achievable goals
Setting achievable goals is all about remembering your why, determining what is MOST important and having a do-able to-do list. I love to do this with daily, weekly and monthly tasks both work related and home related. What absolutely has to be done and what can wait? For example, at the start of the day choose three to five DO-ABLE work, home or self care tasks (i.e. emails, vacumming, working out), pencil in when you think you’ll have time to get them done and then don’t add more to your list. Keep a master list for when things pop into your mind and delegate those to other days. We’re freed up to enjoy our kids when we remember that the dishes can will be there later and this moment of playing with them won’t.
Manage Your Time Well
This goes along with prioritizing, and setting goals really helps you create your daily task lists. Do what works for you in order to manage your time. Set a timer, have the kids help with certain things, get up early, do laundry every day at nap time – whatever works for you. I personally love a combo of daily time blocking and batch scheduling for both my house work and my business, and used to have certain daily “summer school” tasks and chores for my nanny kids as well.
Batch scheduling is the idea of getting all of one type of work done at once (such as emails or washing all the sheets). For me, this looks like setting aside a day of the week for writing (business) and cleaning my apartment on Fridays (home).
Don’t let yourself get sucked into the Facebook hole until a certain task is done or choose to commit to sweeping up after every meal before moving on to the next thing.
It will look different for every mama, but the concept is the same – figure out the basics of your schedule and what must get done, then pop those tasks in to certain times of day.
Look At the Summer as a Whole
This is so important. Your summer calendar can be as detailed or as simple as you want, but I suggest going old school and having a paper copy first THEN transferring it into the digital world. It just helps keep everything straight. A paper copy is also easy to show a kiddo who JUST CAN’T WAIT FOR POKEMON CAMP. Here’s a quick outline of my mental process in creating a summer calendar for the kids and I when I nannied. It really is the key to helping you enjoy summer with your kids because it gives you a plan. You don’t always have to follow the plan and you can change the plan. But a plan gives you a place to come back to when things start to get a little crazy, and that is what keeps us sane.
Look at the entire summer.
Block out vacations, camps, deadlines, etc, then add in bigger outings/trips (once a summer things).
Look at each month.
Add in once or twice a month things (for us: zoo), then divide your kids’ brainstormed list up among the months.
Look at each week.
Add in any weekly activities (i.e.: library on Mondays, golf practice on Fridays).
Think about your family’s daily flow.
Go for a flexible daily rhythm over a rigid schedule.
For example, a rough outline of what worked for us last year with 5 kids (ages 16 down to 2):
TV off at 9
Outside for 30 min (if not going somewhere)
School work for 30 min
GO+DO our daily activity
Lunch around 11:30/12
Quiet play/nap time 12:30-3
I truly hope this helps you enjoy summer with your kids and still get stuff done!
Happy Summer planning and please comment below with your best summer tips!