Moms might joke about how they can’t wait for school to start again, but first, you must survive the long month of July and much of June and August, depending on where you live. How can you take a breather and make time for yourself when the kids are home for summer?
You also want to make this time of year special. After all, your children are only young briefly, and you can’t make up for the precious moments you miss later. It’s now or never — is it possible to do it all and still meet your needs?
It is, but it takes a bit of mindful thought, planning and the right approach. Here’s how to make time for yourself while still having a blast and making this season a family favorite.
1. Keep a Schedule Including Fun and Rest
One of the biggest sources of frustration for moms is how to motivate their kids to do anything when, in their minds, they’re on vacation. Rest is important, but two to three months of sitting on the couch playing video games isn’t healthy. It also leads to power struggles when you want to tidy up and they want no part of chores.
Instead, establish a different expectation. Get your kids a year-long planner if their school-provided version only covers when class is in session. Sit down with it on Sunday night or whenever works for your family to make your weekly schedules together.
However, you’ll foster resentment if you come off as a drill sergeant, insisting your kids include only wholesome activities like household chores and enrichment studies. Unstructured play is crucial for child development, so have plenty of that. While you’re at it, make it a vital teachable moment about work-life balance — your kids should learn to add fun to their planners, and so should you.
For example, write down your playdates. Planning can make them even better — you and your children benefit from human connection. Talking with others gets you out of your head, where you can dwell on your worries, creating anxiety. Instead, blow off some steam with your mom-pals while your kids have fun at the park, tiring themselves out for nap time.
2. Schedule Me-Time During Vacation
While the goal of vacation may be to spend time with you family, don’t feel guilty about making time for yourself during the trip. If you want to feel rested when you get back, some time away from the kids is crucial. Have your spouse take the kids to the beach while you hit the spa. Sleep in at least once during the trip. Don’t forget it’s your vacation, too.
Making the most of your vacation also means unplugging from the real world for a few days. Log out of your work email and don’t think about it. Avoid checking social media or news sites that might stress you out. Around 76% of Americans admit to checking their email while on vacation, meaning most of us don’t know how to unplug. However, you’ll regret it later when you realize you sat on the beach staring at your phone instead of enjoying the world around you.
3. Rediscover the Magic in Your Backyard
There’s magic in the great outdoors. Children need time in the sunshine, and so do you. Find a few precious moments of solitude by creating an oasis where you feel safe enough to take your eyes off the littles. For example, if you have a garden, give your kiddos a plot they can also tend to. You can lose yourself in mindfulness while knowing your angel is doing the same nearby.
What if you live in an urban apartment with just a balcony? Consider how creative you can get with your decorating. Is there space for an enclosed play area, either outside or in, where you can retreat for a few minutes of solitude with your container plants while still having your little one within eye or earshot?
4. Rethink What Learning Is
Who said education had to be boring? Your kids might associate it with school, but you can put the fun back into learning — which will only help them when classes start again.
Some companies offer free workshops for kids, allowing you to browse, daydream or find a bench and do some mindful breathing while they’re engrossed in the following:
- Michael’s: Michael’s offers summer craft workshops for kids on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during summer, beginning in June.
- Lowe’s: Lowe’s has free DIY workshops for kids on the second weekend of every month. Register early as they get popular — it sometimes runs adult clinics, too.
- Apple: Apple has free youth workshops and Apple Camp, where kids can learn to code, a huge plus in today’s world.
5. Treat Your Tummy to Some Love
Having kids in the kitchen during busy school night meal prep can give you a headache. Revel in having more time and teach your children about food over the summer.
This trick works best with older kids interested in the culinary arts. It also grows — planting a seed of interest in a young child might pay off when they get older. Once you feel confident in their abilities, let them prepare dinner once or twice a week while you catch a much-needed break.
6. Play With Bedtime — Just a Little
You want to catch a sunrise yoga class, but the site doesn’t have child care. Your partner loves sleeping in and resents getting up early to watch the kids on their day off. What to do?
A regular bedtime matters, but it need not be on the dot every night. If staying up late playing video games would please your kids and partner and give you a little leeway while they sleep in the next day, let it happen.
7. Treat Yourself and Your Kids to a Little Breathing Room
You love and adore your children more than anything in the world. However, even the most beautiful things in life lose their luster when exposed to them 24/7 without a break.
Unless you have a nursing infant, your child will do fine in another’s care for a few hours while you practice self-care. The separation will do you both a world of good — a change in routine is also a treat for your little one. Brainstorm who you could call.
- Have your parents or in-laws been begging for more time with the kids?
- If you work and use a day care service, does it offer weekend hours for parents whose schedules vary, even if you have to pay for the extra time?
- Do you have mom friends who’d be willing to watch your little one with theirs for a few hours for free if you return the favor?
Find a way to give yourself the occasional break from your typical routine. You’ll return to wearing your mom hat feeling refreshed.
Make Time for Yourself This Summer
You don’t have to wait until the kids return to school to snag a few precious moments for yourself. You can make time while your kids are home for summer. Make this season refreshing, relaxing and fun for you and your little ones.