Whether your children go to school, stay at home or do a combination of the two, there is no doubt that summer brings a new schedule to the house. I mean, you can smell the chlorine, taste the ice cream and feel the heat, am I right? At our house, there’s a schedule, albeit much more relaxed than during the school year.
I’m a summer baby, so I have two reasons to love this time of year! With five kids at home for the next couple of months, I keep hearing the “how do you do it” question. Here’s how we roll, but I sure would love to hear what works in your neck of the woods. Our family motto? Summer is for living!
1. Dial back your obligations. I blog, run my own freelance graphic design business and have various volunteer commitments. During the summer, though, I’m doing my best to be realistic about what I can do vs. what I should do. Yeah, I could keep the same pace that I do during the school year, but at what cost? To the kids sitting like zombies watching Netflix? To takeout pizza every night? To a summer that my kids remember me not being present? As I mentioned a few months ago here on ACNM: if it isn’t a hell yeah, then it’s a no. I’m practicing that full force this summer.
2. Modify the daily schedule. The more children I’ve had, the easier summer is. I know that sounds completely insane, but it’s 100% true. With many children at home, there’s always a playmate at our house and the kids do a beautiful job of entertaining each other. When a fight breaks out, they just switch siblings. I also set certain expectations with them all. There’s isn’t the school homework, but we still have some structure to our day: reading, quiet time, playing outside and with friends and limited screen time. We sneak in some fun outings and unexpected trips to places around town to mix things up a bit.
3. I’ve learned to spread camps out over the summer, rather than having a super busy June and nothing in July or the first part of August. We were purposeful about our camp choices (if you’re still looking for some ideas, you’ll find a great Catholic camp summer guide here on ACNM). I wanted the camps to help foster the gifts of my children, encourage them to be good stewards and citizens and to let them really enjoy all that summer has to offer. Life should be fun and relaxed this time of year and our family’s choices reflect that sentiment.
4. Go somewhere you’ve never been before. During spring break, we enjoyed a day at Hamilton Pool. Loved it! We’ve been to Blue Bell Creameries, the Bob Bullock Museum and the San Antonio missions. Central Texas has so much to offer. Call another mom, load up the van and go have an adventure! For some free fun in Austin, check out this website.
5. Remind yourself how quickly the years fly by and choose to live the motherhood gig with few regrets. It’s not realistic to think there won’t be some regrets as you look back on this chapter of life, none of us is perfect. But, choose to live this summer being present to your kids. As a wise friend recently reminded me, don’t watch your children grow up, looking through your iPhone.
6. Get the kids involved with the “must-do’s” so you can have the “that was awesome’s!” On laundry day, the kids pitch in to wash, fold and put away so we can fill the rest of the day with fun. Need to go grocery shopping? Have them plan a fun snack or tasty dessert and add the ingredients to the list. You’ll be amazed at how much easier the trip may be. Trust me, as the mom of five I avoid taking them all to HEB like the plague. But in the summer, unless I want to eat goldfish and peanut butter for every meal, I’ve learned to be creative.
7. Tone down the to-do list. By nature, I’m a doer. I’m learning to lower my expectations and live a little. Summer is precious time when you really get a chance to see your children in their own light. When I put aside my expectations and live the season through their glasses, it is so much sweeter and a heckuva lot more fun.
8. Take a family vacation. We’ve been taking an annual vacation to a different state for the past 17 years. It is the highlight of our summer. You don’t have to be fancy, but getting some time away as a family unit is important, even if it’s just a day trip or an overnight stay. The memories will last so much longer.
However you choose to spend your summer, I hope it’s filled with some trips to the pool, a laid back schedule and some great quality time with the people you love most in the world. Gotta run, I’ve got a game of Headbandz calling my name!