Summer should be carefree and enjoyable, but with the kids home 24/7 it can become tense and stressful. Mighty Mommy has 6 tips to help you reclaim summer for your family.
There’s something dreamy and magical about the start of summer. On the coldest, dreariest days of winter, the mere thought of sitting on the beach with my toes immersed in the cool, wet sand while my kids happily build sandcastles close by is often enough to keep me warm until those sunny days finally arrive.
But once those carefree weeks of summer land on my doorstep, so does something else—my kids! School’s out and although that means the tight, hectic schedule we navigate between September and June is now over, it’s quickly replaced with 10 full weeks of having kids home 24/7.>
When I think of summer I think of lazy days where rest and relaxation go hand in hand, but realistically that’s not usually the case. Instead of chilling out, families tend to burn out because suddenly they've got 8–10 hours of free time each day and the kids complain that they’re bored or fill the time by staring at electronic gadgets, squabbling with their siblings, or getting into trouble.
If this sounds familiar, worry not! Mighty Mommy has 6 tips that can help you reclaim summer without setting up a 3-ring circus in your backyard.
Here are 6 simple tips to make this summer your best summer ever:
1. Do one thing as a family each day
The one thing kids remember is the time their parents spend with them. Even if you’re a full-time working parent like I am, there are plenty of opportunities each and every day to have fun and connect with your child.
On the days I can devote extra time to my kids I do silly things like calling the home phone from my cell phone and then telling whoever answers to please report to the kitchen immediately because there’s a problem. When the kids arrived sheepishly, they found me waiting armed with bathing suits, towels, and all our beach gear. “I decided to take some time off today for us to go to the beach,” I explained.
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Because it was completely unexpected, it really made the beach day more fun and special.
2. Don’t forget structure
The school year is crammed with schedules, activities, homework, and so when summer arrives, everyone breathes a sigh of relief because the pressure is off. While that’s definitely a good thing it’s also important not to abandon some structure during the summer months so that kids still know what’s expected of them.
So set up guidelines right off the bat. If your child has a daily chore, don’t just assume he’ll get to it whenever he has a chance, enforce that after breakfast it’s time to take care of the daily chores, then it’s free time again. Before dinner might be devoted to summer reading or putting laundry away. Whatever you decide is right for your family, make sure your kids know what the expectations are so everyone is on the same page all summer long.
3. Encourage your child to try something new
While there’s no pressure of schedules and schoolwork, summer is a wonderful time to encourage your child to explore a new hobby or a new sport that he or she might not have had the time to take on during the school year.
During the past few years, on the last day of school, we've taken our kids out for ice cream to celebrate completing another year. We take that as an opportunity to chat about some new things they can try for the summer. One of my sons wanted to learn how to cook, so we set up some time each week for him to learn his way around the kitchen and how to follow recipes. He’s now the best brownie maker in the house!
My daughter who just graduated from high school admitted last summer that she’d always wanted to learn to knit. I had always been interested as well, so we learned together.
4. Send your child mail
Receiving snail mail is something today’s generation of kids doesn’t experience all that often. Email, texting, and social media apps like Instagram have made old fashioned snail mail obsolete.
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That's why receiving a card or letter in the mailbox is such an unexpected treat. My kids love to get mail but usually only receive cards for their birthdays. I love to pick out fun cards, especially the ones with sound, and save them for no special occasion. When I’m at work I’ll mail them to one or more of my kids "just because.” It helps me feel closer to them when I can’t be there and they know I’m thinking of them.
5. Redo one area in your home as a family
I’ve always enjoyed watching television shows about home makeovers. It can be an entire house renovation or just a portion of a room, whatever the case I love the transformation process.
With many time constraints lifted during summer, this could be the ideal time to look around your home and seek your family’s input for some makeover ideas. You don’t have to gut your entire kitchen to make a statement. Maybe your family room could use a new bookcase to get the stacks of books off the floor? Take some time during summer vacation to create a reading nook or new home library with your kids.
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What about taking a bunch of family photos one weekend and then framing them to make a new family art gallery? Work together to make some corner in your home updated and something you can all take part in and then enjoy afterward as a family.
6. Learn to just be
In this day and age, we run around like crazy trying to complete an impossible amount of items on our to-do lists. So when we do have some downtime, we forget how to just relax and be in the moment. If your family falls into a similar category, make this the summer to get back to basics and discover the simple art of just enjoying the moment.
Regardless of whether you have toddlers or teens, find a few moments when one or all of you are together and just sit and enjoy the view of the flower garden from your front window while eating cold watermelon, or be still and listen to the crickets chirping on a balmy summer’s night.
While you’re doing so, make a point of sharing with your child that you’re enjoying the moment. If they see you relaxing, even if only for a few minutes, they’ll learn the importance of incorporating this quiet time into their busy lives.