“You’re rotting your brain!” is probably a statement you’ll hear oozing from my house when all of the windows are open, and I’m yet again embarrassing myself in front of the neighbors without even realizing. This generally occurs after I’ve been working all morning and come out of my cave to grab a cup of coffee before having to dart back in for yet, another work text, conference call, or training session. My youngest son looks at me with his one wandering-eye which appears after playing Plants VS Zombies for two hours straight, while my oldest slowly creeps back in his room because, “out of sight is out of mind“, and if mom doesn’t see him, he won’t get the “mom-lecture” as well . I know…I know… we go through this every summer.
Each summer we sit down with the kids and come up with an agreed upon schedule. This summer, we have a spreadsheet of daily educational activities, science projects, outside-time, chores, bi-weekly trips to somewhere fun (cheap or free is best) and yes…even time scheduled for video games. There are SO many options out there to help keep your kids busy, and advice for moms with little one’s, Pinterest is heaven! Make a board, and pin everything! I survived working full-time from home with two babies 18-months apart with the help of Pinterest (thank you to those mom’s who paved the way for my family you are amazing!) With my kids being a bit older and more self-sufficient we break the day down into chunks, morning, early afternoon, lunch, and after lunch. Here’s how it works:
Schedule the morning:
My kids know the routine, get up, (sometimes they lay around for a bit) but the television doesn’t go on until your teeth are brushed and your bed is made. We’ve been doing the same routine for years, and they know what’s expected. However, they still test the waters and push the limits, I mean, they’re kids after all! However, this systematic routine really helps me keep on track at work, while running a household during the busy summer months.
We meal plan the week before so breakfast items are easy and quick, cereal/oatmeal/bagels/fruit/yogurt/granola, all of these are simple go-to’s, with homecooked meals on the weekends. We also want to keep a schedule of mind enriching projects so we generally order Brain Quest or Summer Bridge Activity books for each grade/age level. This idea came from a teacher friend with kiddos (thank you Erin!). These books have short daily assignments, fun quizzes, and obtainable goals. The books cover subjects such as: reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. Furthermore, additional resources (adventure quests & flash cards) are included and help keep kids excited about learning all summer long. Here’s how our morning and mid-morning routines go:
- Wake up, take shower, brush teeth, hang up towel, and make beds (this takes time depending on how my pre-teen is grumbling through the morning…shocking huh?…he’s a chip off the old mom-block and super grumpy in the morning 🙂 )
- Eat breakfast.
- Complete one day’s assignments in activity book and we go over them together.
- Feed and water the animals.
- Gather yesterday’s laundry and put in piles in the laundry room.
- Color/paint/play instrument/art project for the week- we do one project weekly such as: paper mache`, popsicle boxes, painting on the patio, grab 10 items in nature and make a collage, and/or play your instrument (trumpet goes outside during operating business hours!) Thanks for that Christmas gift by the way mom/grandma!
- Turn on TV and go-for-it (1 HR max in the morning).
Planning the Afternoon
After morning routines are completed, and the boys have watched tv, or played video games for a bit, I boot them off technology around noon. We all take a break and make lunch together (I won’t lie to you, sometimes I can’t sit with them for lunch because of work, so I’m helping them get their lunch ready and running back into my office). I’m making life during summer work, “my-way.” Again, every day is different and we all learn how to adjust, change, and alter plans to make sure we get it “done.” After lunch, it’s chill time, and the boys read the book they chose from the library, or some days we have WWE wrestling championships in the living room while I’m trying to have a conference call… I prefer the non-wrestling days!
**Here’s where I should point out, we visit the library weekly. It’s FREE, and the kids can pick anything they fancy. Comic books, books about dinosaurs, science projects, audio books, and as an added bonus, I can also grab cook books, or whatever next best novel looks amazing! I do, however, ask the boys to pick at least one book about history so we can all discuss it. I am horrible with history, and really need them to help me sharpen up! This last week we discovered books about Medieval Ages, I mean, what mom doesn’t want to discuss hot topics such as the Bubonic Plague?? Here’s what I’ve tried to model our afternoons to look like:
- Eat lunch & put dishes in the dishwasher.
- Read for 45-60 mins (put timer on).
- Get chores completed (each child has the same 3-4 chores for the week, and then we alternate for the following week).
- Go OUTSIDE! This is a good time for water balloons, wet-sponge tag, bike riding, scooter tag, eating ice pops on the front porch & sidewalk chalk (again, Pinterest is amazing for ideas) Plan them out! Choose a different activity every day!
- Fun creative time is a weekly science/craft project we plan the weekend before and gather supplies from the local dollar store/craft store (with coupons). Ideas include: Making slime, fluffy slime, Orbeez stress balls (yes, I steal these from the kids…love them!), tie-dye socks/shirts (this is a bigger project and generally a Friday afternoon event), painting sea shells, etc…the list is endless, (Pinterest is seriously amazing for ideas)!
By the time my husband gets home, I’ve juggled kids, laundry, a full-time job, and meals. The weather has cooled down (somewhat, we live in FL, it’s never cool) so the hubby takes the kids outside for a hike to the river, a basketball game out front where he likes to slam dunk and let the boys know how amazing his Street-Ball game still is (eye-roll…) or a quick round of ‘Marco-Polo’ in the pool, which may end up one of two ways: people coming in the backdoor happy, or someone comes in with Hulk-rage because they got “John Cena’ed” yet again….
Essentially, these are our days, fun, busy, and filled with love! We also plan outings on the weekends and fun-time every other Friday (science center, amusement parks, but mostly, the beach). These beach trips are really great for quick trips, packing lunches, and heading out. It’s free (depending on where you park), and sometimes this mom just needs some time with her toes in the sand! With a little planning, and prepping, the summer can be fun, educational, and all the while, building relationships and memories with your kids. My goal is teaching them responsibility and balancing their own lives, but yet having fun!
Do the “Mom” Thing Your Way
Every day is one-hundred percent, absolutely, different! Some days we follow the schedule, and some days we veer really far off course. Regardless, this is our summer, we set goals, learn, have fun, and juggle many different hats. I have been balancing work-life during the summer for 12-years (my oldest son Nick is 12), and each year I learn something new. There is no “right” way to parent, so get in there, get messy with your kids, and enjoy the time you have, because it goes by so fast! Do this “mom” thing your way because you’re kind-of a big deal! Like, a massively big deal to another little human, and they love you just the way you are! So have fun this summer, and rock-it!
If you have advice or tips you’d like to share with other mothers, please feel free to leave a comment! Building a platform for other juggling mom’s is an intended goal. What works for you may work for another mom so share it up! Enjoy the summer and keep those kids busy!