As much as I love the anticipation of the end of the school year, sometimes the transition to summer can be tricky. I remember the first summer after becoming a mom of two. After 3 days at home with a 2-year-old and 9 month old with very little napping and lots of crying (mostly me), I was in desperate need of some adult time. Part of the problem was that I set my expectations too high for what my day would look like. I quickly learned I needed to adjust to reality and set realistic expectations for what could be accomplished on summer days with my children.
Balance fun with downtime
The calendar is filling up. You have a bucket list of fun activities to do. Time feels limited so you want to cram it all in. Going to the park, visiting a friend, and taking the kids out for ice cream sounded like a fun-filled day. But, after the first scoop of Rocky Road, the meltdown begins (and it’s not just the ice cream). Overloading yourself and your kids with activity after activity is a recipe for disaster. Everyone needs that downtime to recoup from socializing in the hot sun. I try to plan one thing a day and I’ve learned that my kids’ optimum time is the morning. We typically go around between 9 am to 10 am and are home by 1 or 2. That’s not to say we don’t take day trips. But, when we do, I sandwich it between more relaxed days with less activity.
Don’t forget to allow free time for spontaneity. Block out some dates ahead of time where you will purposely not make plans.
Say no to things you do not want to do
This can be tough. Maybe something comes up that you want to do but just not that particular day. Or maybe, you really just don’t want to do it at all. Be direct and don’t apologize! Avoid saying you’ll think about it when you know you’d rather say no. Here are some things to say in response to an invitation you’d rather pass on:
- “It doesn’t look like we will be available that day”
- “Sounds fun, I appreciate the invite. But we need to pass”
- “Thanks for thinking of me, but I have plans”
Pick 3 (small) things you want to accomplish each day
Trying to get my to-do list done with two little kids in tow is the number one source of frustration. When you have your own agenda, your kids somehow pick up on that (it’s like a 6th sense) and inevitably sabotage all attempts at productivity. After I hit the “I can’t get anything done!” wall one too many times, I realized I had to re-strategize. I broke down my tasks into smaller tasks and focused on just three main things a day. These need to be things I can get done–not just start. And, it’s best to be specific.
- Instead of writing “dishes”, write: empty dishwasher
- Break tasks like laundry down into smaller chunks like “switch laundry to dryer”, “fold laundry”
- Write them on post-its! I swear, it’s some voodoo magic that makes you more productive
- Reward yourself! Extrinsic motivation works!
Schedule time for you
Finally, I saved the best for last. The reason I felt so burnt out after just 3 days at home with my kids was that I had literally ZERO alone time. Once I started planning dinner dates with friends, a pedicure trip, or reading a book in solitude, I had moments of “me time” to look forward to.
Obviously, this can’t happen without some help! Enlist a spouse, grandparent, or babysitter. If that’s not doable, simply put it on the calendar that Tuesday night after the kids go to bed, you are going to curl up with your favorite drink and watch that new Netflix show. Setting time aside makes it more special and prevents you from feeling like you have to clean the kitchen or finish folding the laundry (you got that done earlier anyway!).
Summer with kids can feel a little challenging at times. We put this pressure on ourselves to make every day productive, special, and full of childhood magic. Don’t berate yourself for spending a lazy day at home or dropping the kids off at the sitter! With some planning, your summer can go smoothly and you might even find some time to relax 🙂