As summer break begins and moms brace themselves for the organized (or not so much) chaos it brings, I recall a conversation I had a few years back about the stress it can cause. Even though we’re not packing lunches, the children seem to be eating us out of house and home. They want to start their days at 6 a.m., wanting to know, “Where are we going today and how soon?” Or, “Can I have so-and-so over?” Or the classic whining and whimpering line, “I’m bored!” The questions keep coming… It’s exactly as the old saying goes, “The days are long but the years are short.”
When I was in the beginning stages of therapy for my postpartum depression, I remember venting about motherhood and my children to my priest. He listened patiently, watching me cry. When there was a break in conversation (when I stopped talking), he asked me, “Do you find yourself spending more time managing your children rather than enjoying them?” It was a huge A-HA moment for me. I do manage them, and I knew it instantly.
If you’re anything like me, you may wonder how you can do this (creativity is not my strong suit). How do we spend more time enjoying our children, rather than managing them?
Some suggestions to help you enjoy summer break with your kids are…
- Put the laundry aside and put on your swimsuit to join your kids in the sprinkler. There’s no age limit on that activity! And your kids will love it!
- Sit down and listen to their story rather than hurrying them out the door.
- Set up relay races or American Ninja Warrior courses. Time them against their siblings or friends; they love a little bit of friendly competition. They’ll burn energy as you cheer them on!
- Take a chunk of time for the family to make up songs and record them.
- Go outside and make a fort with the kids and eat lunch in it.
- Make popsicles together while asking them personal questions that promote conversation. If you’re like me, things like that don’t come easily, so I rely on Pinterest at times for guidance. Some getting-to-know-you questions may include, “What place would be your number one pick for vacation?” Or, “What do you like best about Mommy? Daddy? Grandma? Grandpa? Teacher?”
- Check out programs at your local library. I know we have free programs at ours that include cupcake decorating and scavenger hunts.
- Join in on the Lego fun. Find out what they like to create. I think we’d be surprised by some of their answers.
So, I just want to tell all of you wonderful, hard-working, already overwhelmed by the thought of summer mamas this: on those hard days I hope you can take a deep breath, laugh at the madness, and enjoy your kiddos rather than manage them. Though often stressful, they are our best gift. I, too, will likely be rereading this article throughout summer break!
Hey mama, this podcast episode is for you: Stop the Mommy Wars: Every Mom Is Doing Something Right – 045
or check out Mom Hacks: Help You Need in Every Stage – 026!
You’ll also like 5 Free or Cheap Things to Do With Your Kids, A Helpful Tool for When Your Kids Are Frustrating You, 8 Guilt-Free After-School Snacks For Your Littles, 10 Tips for How to Enjoy a Road Trip With Kids, and A Parent’s Simple Strategy For Surviving (and Enjoying) Summer.