The number of emails I might receive in an hour. Or the loads of laundry I finish in a week. Or the times I pick up Legos off my floor in a day. Or the sweet kisses I get from my son each night.
The number of summers I have with each of my children.
Eighteen summers. That’s it. And those aren’t even guaranteed.
Sobering and bittersweet. Maybe that’s why we break our necks to create the perfect summer experience for our children. The pressure to create Pinterest worthy summer vacation for our children is immense.
But today? I just want to say, breathe, momma.
Summer can be spectacular even with simple expectations. I still look back on the time Daddy filled up the Jon Boat with water and called it a pool for my cousin, sister and me. Good times and sweet memories. Really.
Balance and simplicity—the two words guiding my summer. With these words in mind, mommas of all kinds, employed or at home, can enjoy the no-school months.
Here are my 10 rules for a not bummer summer. Rules I try to keep in mind during these hot-as-hades days.
1. Meander –
Take time to notice the small beauties of life. Take walks. Read real books. Leave some things undone just to give into the dawdle. Purpose to slow and take in the world around you. You will thank yourself in August.
2. Some screen time is okay –
Consider loosening screen time rules a bit. I’m not suggesting all-day-every-day screen fests. School children have worked hard for eight months. If you’re like me, screen time during the school year is small, so think about giving a bit more freedom in this area.
3. Simplicity –
Children don’t need elaborate to have a good time. Sprinklers in the yard. Crafts without a thousand steps. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles. Simplicity slows down this entitled generation.
4. Don’t over-schedule –
Did you know? Mother is not synonymous with entertainer. Bravely tell your children to “go find something to do.” It is okay to force them into their rooms to cultivate their imagination. (This time I mean without the screen.) You get an opportunity to breathe. They learn to be industrious. Win. Win.
5. Teach chores –
And the heavenly choir of hosts begins to sing the Hallelujah chorus. Moms. The best thing I’ve done as a parent? I taught my, then 10 year old, daughter how to clean a bathroom last summer. One less bathroom to clean? All the mothers said? Amen.
6. Get messy –
Play in the sprinklers with your children. Have a water balloon fight. Paint with your fingers. I had a student tell me his mom never allowed him to jump in rain puddles. Please, for the love of all things child-like, go puddle jumping this summer.
7. Break the rules –
Eat Fro-yo for dinner. Or stay in pajamas all day long. Or watch movies until midnight. Or do anything that goes against your norm as a family. Need other suggestions? See rule #6.
8. Think cheap –
We are raising an entitled generation. The more we do, buy, plan, the more we give into their expectations. Think coloring books and crayons. Check your local library’s summer program schedule. Parks and nature walks and picnics. Bottom shelf? It doesn’t have to cost a lot to be a memory maker.
9. Loose, but not absent, structure –
All children thrive on structure, so if I want a bummer summer, I allow every day to be completely chaotic. I can get away with that a few days here and there, but routine, albeit loose, is key in keeping me sane. When my children aren’t crazy, I’m not crazy. At least in theory…
10. Downtime –
My 6th grade daughter? She’ll still have an hour in her room for reading, coloring, or puzzle working every afternoon we’re home. My kindergarten son? Nap. Because he still needs one. If he didn’t? He’d still have one hour of a quiet something. This is a non-negotiable in our home. Frankly? Whether they need it or not doesn’t matter much to me. I need it. And I don’t ask for much.
As with any mommy advice, what works for me may not work for you. The overall idea is to enjoy summer. Don’t begin August exhausted because you attempted to entertain your children every day.
Eighteen summers, momma. That’s what we have. I want to find the balance because I am desperate to embrace this fleeting time. I know you are too.