Simple Summer Survival Kit
Summer used to mean long, lazy days playing outside in the grass, getting muddy and sweaty and out of breath from running/biking everywhere, before hurrying inside for a delicious homemade meal that magically appeared on the kitchen table after we washed our hands. I'M SURE IT WAS THAT EASY FOR MY MOM. As a grown up, and a mom, summer looks a little different. Instead of doing the running around outside, I'm watching my boys play in the dirt and run around barefoot. And somehow, the day goes too fast and too slow all at the same time. Before I'm ready, dinner time is here and I have NO idea what we are going to eat.
After the first few days of summer, it became very clear to me that I needed a routine to help give us at least a little structure each day. It's been a big help to me and to the boys. None of these are drastic or require anything but a printer and some intention.
1. Find printables to organize your day-to-day schedule. I LOVE these and we use the screen time rules every. single. day. It helps keep everyone busy (and gives me time to do my own thing) and teaches the boys responsibility. I'm hooked! We will likely keep using the screen time checklist throughout the school year as well.
2. Load up your phone with podcasts. I know what you're thinking: WILL THIS LADY STOP TALKING ABOUT PODCASTS ALREADY? The answer? No. No I will not. I am SUCH a believer in podcasts for kids and I will not stop singing their praises until I am confident every one of you gets how serious I am about this. Ok, seriously though...check out my post about kids podcasts and get them ready for car rides to the pool, quiet time in the afternoon, a distraction if your kids are bickering at breakfast (us every. single. day.), or as a way to start/end a busy day. Trust me, you'll be grateful.
3. Plan for unplanned time. I KNOW. This sounds weird. But I find that if I don't schedule down time for our family, it doesn't happen. Instead, I feel like we have to be going to all the places and doing all the things. But if I intentionally schedule time for us to just be at home, it makes us all take some deep breaths and appreciate the slowness of the season.
4. Don't sleep too late. For those of us who stay home all day, it can be tempting to sleep in a little in the summer. The truth? When I sleep in, I feel frazzled and out of it for the rest of the day. Instead, I've started a great little routine: wake up, make coffee, and sit on the porch to enjoy it until the boys wake up. Sometimes I get 20 minutes of peace to start my day, and sometimes only 5 minutes. Either way, starting my day this way has so many benefits.
5. Simplify. Simplify breakfast, lunch, and dinner, specifically. I still love to cook during the summer, but it's always nicer to focus on maybe one part of each meal that requires a bit of effort and letting the rest of the meal come together by using fresh produce. Summer is the ideal time to keep fresh fruit and veggies at the ready, and often times that is what sounds most appealing on hot days anyway. So, don't go nuts making tons of food. Instead, prep stuff that you can quickly toss on a plate or in a bowl and be on your merry way. SIMPLIFY.
6. Ask for help! This is something most of us struggle with every day, all year. But guess what? The worst thing that can happen if you ask for help is that you'll here the word 'no'. In all likelihood, you'll find someone willing to help you out by watching your kids for an hour or two so you work, exercise, grocery shop alone, or simply take a few moments to breathe deeply and find some calm. Some tips if you have trouble asking for/finding help: offer to do a trade! If you watch my kids I'll watch yours! Check with your church, rec center, or local schools to see if they offer drop in childcare. You might be surprised! Those are great places to start. This tip is especially important if you have really little ones!
7. Get in the kitchen! We have occupied many hours this summer in the kitchen. In fact, just last night we made pasta from scratch and the kids were delighted! IMPORTANT TIP: Stay calm and embrace the mess. They're little. They're trying their best. And they will make a mess. The more prepared you are for this, the more fun you all will have. (I know some of you will ask, and YES, this was great to do with both the 3 year old and the 6 year old!)
It can be tempting to fill up empty days with a million things, but it is healthy for everyone to take a little breather in the summer months if you can. Be easier on yourself and on your kiddos, but hold onto some of your routines or develop new ones to suit your summer needs. And you know what? My list might not be exactly what you need. But I hope it at least helps you focus on what you can do to make the most of the fleeting days of summer.