How to survive summer vacation with your kids

stressed-mom1 (1)The Summer Slump – a time where children forget everything they’ve learned in school and their brains turn to jello. But seriously, as parents we work hard to make our kids read, stay focused, stay OFF too much technology, and generally keep their brains sharp until they return to the routine of school learning.

It’s not only for kids, the summer slump can happen to us adults too. Especially the ‘Summer Mom Slump’ – you know what I’m talking about… the bright idea that you’re going to stay home with the kids this summer and either:

  1. Be the bestest most amazing Mom in all of history, teaching your children so that when they return to school they’ll be a grade ahead. All the while preparing fresh organic meals (from all those amazing Pinterest pins you saved), taking the kids on educational field trips, teaching them epic manners, and having them generally adore you for every second.
  2. Work from home so that you can curtail your child care costs. You’ll be able to work around their schedules right? Between the ‘I want’s’ and ‘Gotta have’s’ and the ‘I just HAVE to’s’ you’ll find time to remain productive and creative yes? You’ll get up fresh and relaxed every morning and have an amazingly productive day every day and those conference calls… well the kids will know to be quiet right?

How’s that working out for you? 

The LAZY, hazy, crazy days of summer aren’t always the greatest for productivity or creativity. In fact, it can be downright isolating.

Staying at home with your kids in the summer sounds like a dream come true right? All laughing all the time, surrounded by sunny happy children who all help with the housework. Any of you who take the summers off or work from home with your children know better. It can be a bickering, screeching, “I’m BORED”, “Why can’t I spend 23 hours a day on my tablet Mom??? Huh? WHY???” kind of stay-cation. I know some of you feel me. I know you do.

If you’re used to being in the office all the time and you suddenly find yourself in ‘I don’t want to get out of my pajamas – I’ll let the kids sleep in til’ 11 AM just to get sFrustrated-mom-with-kidsome “me” time’ paradise’… you’re not alone.  Being with your kids 24/7 can be hard. Like REALLY hard. And doggone it – it’s OKAY to admit that. None of this Mom-guilt please. And then working from home at the same time? You deserve an award. You do.

One reason moms (or Dads) who are home with their kids for the summer might feel more down is a lack of appreciation – or a missing sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, when you work you can list a set of tasks you conquered, but it can be difficult for a Stay At Home Summer Mom to pinpoint what they did during the day, even if they’ve been busy the entire time.

Moms do a lot of work but don’t get paid for it. They work 365 days a year with no sick time, vacation time or time paid off. We know this (fist pump)! But why do we consistently have these unrealistic expectations that we should be “perfect”? During the summer, you are with your kids 24/7 with barely a break or a quiet moment. It’s the time of year when you find out exactly how much patience you do or do not have.

And then there’s the entitlement which we, of course, feed.  We do so many things for our kids – camps, classes, lessons, events – scheduling our lives around sporting events and dance recitals. We fill their lives with ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ and our precious time and just when you’re ready for them to sing your praises with cards/flowers/gratitude… they say it. “I’m BORED.”  They expect us to continue to be entertainment chairman and fill every spare moment with super fun events.

That’s just not the way Summer works children.

Do you remember being outside playing all day until the streetlights came on? I do. My mother would have looked at me like a crazy person if I demanded she ‘find something for me to do’. It was all about the “GO PLAY and check in every once in a while to let me know you’re still alive”. We came home when the street lights came on. And that was that.

stressed-momPerhaps we need to let our children be bored. Let them whine and moan and be unanswered. It’s OKAY to send them outside to play or to find something to do… on their own! They need to learn how to create their own entertainment (without technology). God forbid that they use their imaginations, or play with Legos, or read a book, or do some other self sufficient activity that doesn’t require you to be a helicopter parent from hell.

And if your kids are bickering all the time, sometimes we need to stay out of it. I’m not saying to lock your kids in a room and wait for blood to spill. I’m saying that we need to promote problem solving skills and conflict resolution in our kids instead of rushing in to solve every little problem. I’m to the point where if it escalates to WWE levels I step in. For example I say “I do NOT care who did what. Were you mean to her? (yes) Apologize. Were you mean to her? (yes but…) No buts. Apologize.” Frankly I don’t care if your sister took off your Barbie’s head and stuffed it in the toilet but it darn well better not be there when anyone needs to flush. Got it? Good. Years ago I would’ve had a long sit down discussion about mutual respect and boundaries and blah blah blah. They already know it. They need to practice. I need to keep out of the way sometimes.

And as for YOU time? You need it. And it’s okay to need it. (No Mom-guilt stuff remember?) And if no one has told you they appreciate you today… know that they do. They couldn’t do it without you. They just don’t tell you so.  We’re the Unthanked Posse – and somehow we have to learn to be okay with that. If you’re lucky enough to have a partner who values you and all the work you do – let them praise you. We all need that. It’s a MUST.

You’ll look back on these summers with nostalgia… perhaps around Christmas time or when they’re grown up with their own children and are pulling their hair out during summer vacation. That’s when you’ll sit back and smile and think “Those were the days…” In the meantime ladies (and some gents) keep your chin up and do some back to school shopping – that will definitely put a smile on your face.