Parents’ Summer Survival Guide

It’s that time of year. It’s not Christmas. It’s not your child’s birthday. It’s summer. Your kids are out of school. They are home.

All. The. Time.

If you’re a working parent, summer can be a nightmare….trying to find a babysitter, a camp…whatever it takes. If you’re fortunate enough to have the summer off and don’t have to find childcare, then your kids are probably with you 24/7. This can also be a nightmare in its own right. That is, if you let it.

I’m probably in the minority here, but I actually enjoy when my kids are off during the summer. It’s actually easier than all the drama during the school year. I don’t have to do school drop offs and pick-ups. There’s no running to activities and “Soccer Saturdays”. Although these are enjoyable in their own little way, they are exhausting. Anyone else agree? It’s nice to not have to inhale breakfast and rush everyone out the door. It’s refreshing to just be able to breathe a little.

While I don’t have to worry so much about childcare during the summer. I do have to worry about keeping the kids occupied and maintaining my sanity at the same time. I’m here to tell you, it can be done. Seriously.

Here’s a little survival guide:

1. Find Free Activities: Summer is full of free, “tire out your kid” activities. Designate one day (or two) as a beach day. Get the kids involved in packing snacks and toys to make it fun for them. If you can, change your beach location so no one gets bored. Build sandcastles. Pick sea shells. You can even paint them when you get home.


Spend another day at a park. Take a bike ride or nature walk. There are so many free outdoor activities that will keep the kids out of the house and happy. Take advantage of what’s nearby so you’re not shelling out a lot in gas money.

2. Keep ‘Em Learning: We all know it’s called summer break, meaning no school. That doesn’t mean your kids don’t pick up a book or practice letters and numbers until September. Designate a half-hour a day to do school stuff. Whether it’s reading, writing, or math…do something! Check out your local library for summer read programs. Many offer incentives based on the number of books your child reads over the summer. Keep their little minds learning. At least it will keep them occupied for awhile.

3. Teach Them to Tag Sale: This is a great way to clean things up and make some cash. Get some friends to join in and pick a good weekend. Make it fun. Let the kids keep some of the money you make. Your house is getting clean, you’re teaching your kids the value of money, and you’re getting outside. It’s a win-win all around!

4. Discount Movies: We all know you could buy a trip to Europe for the price of going to the movies these days. During the summer, many local theaters offer $1 movies at the theater. Granted, they’re re-releases, but still it’s in the movie theater. This is a great way to catch a movie you and the kids may have missed or re-watch one you really love!

movie tix

5. Just Play: The whole idea of the summer is to relax, isn’t it? Take some time to just play in the yard. Blow bubbles. Run the sprinkler. Draw with chalk. Throw a frisbee. Let kids be kids. Be a kid yourself! You may be surprised at how much fun you’re having and how much less yelling you’re doing.

Don’t forget to carve out some time for yourself. Some time at Grandma’s isn’t going to hurt if you want to have a kid-free meal or get your nails done. It’s all part of keeping your summer sanity!

What do you do to keep it all together during the summer?

Are Your Kids in Activity Overload?

Soccer practice. Dancing. Gymnastics. Piano. How many activities are your kids involved in? More importantly, how many different practices and games are you rushing off to each and every week? Just thinking about it probably makes your head spin.

Have you ever thought of “slow parenting”? Have you actually ever heard of “slow parenting”? I can tell you I hadn’t until I read a recent Boston Globe article. Basically slow parenting means not overscheduling your kids so they and you are not running around like you’re on fire. It means letting them (and you) have time to just hang out. It means spending time playing outside, going to the beach, and doing loads of other things that don’t require practices and recitals.

Crazy, I know.

But, in this case crazy is good. At least I think so.

I’ve heard so many parents lately complaining, or possible even bragging about, how many different activities they’re bouncing to and from seven days a week. Soccer, dancing, gymnastics, softball, piano…you name it and they’re kid is into it.

Or are they really?

Are we forcing our kids to get into everything?

I’m all for letting kids try things out to figure out where their true passions lie. But, I think as parents we need to draw the line for them and for our own sanity. We don’t need to spend our weekends running from activity to activity. It’s okay to have some down time.

My five-year-old daughter already comes home from school with fliers for all kinds of activities. Of course, she wants to do them all. But, I was the “mean” Mom who told her to pick two.

So, we settled on soccer and Girl Scouts. Soccer only has one practice and one game a week. So, that’s only a two-hour commitment. Girl Scouts is once a week which equals one hour. All in all, we’re only committed to activities three hours a week. That still leaves plenty of time for play and for Mommy to take a breath.

I know as my younger daughter gets older juggling both girls’ activities is going to be more challenging. But, I’m going to try to stick with the “two rule”. They can change their two activities each season if need be. But, I don’t think my wallet or my sanity can handle much more.

When it comes to activities it should be quality over quantity. There’s nothing wrong with letting your child try new things. But, once they find a couple of activities they truly enjoy, let them excel in those rather then have them dipping into five others.






I Survived My 1st Dance Recital

I’m quickly learning that being a parent means sometimes letting your kids do stuff you may not endorse one-hundred percent. For me and my nearly five-year-old daughtear that “stuff” involves dancing. This weekend she had her first dance recital.  I’ve heard all the recital horror stories and well, some of them are true. At nearly four and a half hours,  it is one of the longest things I have ever sat through.

My daughter was only in one number that lasted all of four minutes. Luckily (or not, depending on how you look at it) her dance was in the first act. That meant after her dance, we still had one full act and a half to go before the final bow. I could have cleaned my entire house during that time and probably stopped for a coffee. Instead, we stuck it out and supported our tiny dancer (cue the Elton John music). I just wish I was as smart as some other moms who came armed with a cooler full of snacks. My kids’ goldfish and fruit snacks only went so far seeing that I was there about an hour earlier than the rest of my family. I could have eaten my chair by the time it was all over.

Despite all of that, I never thought I’d say this, but it was really exciting to see my daughter up there on the stage dancing. She didn’t freeze. She didn’t cry. She just danced. While she was not perfect, I think she did pretty darn good seeing that this was her first time on stage and that she was the youngest and smallest one in the group. As I was watching, I felt mommy pride build up inside and I could feel the tears start to come to the surface. I didn’t cry, but I was pretty close! I was just so proud of her. It was just a little thing, but to her it was the world. After her dance, I went backstage. As soon as she saw me she yelled, “Mommy, mommy, I did it!” She was so proud of herself, which made me even prouder.

I was surprised at how emotional I was because I wasn’t 100% invested in this dance thing from the start even though my checkbook was. I was never a dancer and just never really got the fascination with the whole thing. I still don’t get why all the girls need to pile on the make-up to go on stage. My daughter had no blush, no eyeshadow, no lipstick, and her own eyelashes and she performed just fine. I guess I’m just not a true “dance mom” since I let my daughter go “au natural”.

As much as it kills me, I will let my daughter continue to dance (at least for awhile) if she really wants to. She looked forward to class every week and enjoyed the recital (most of it). I can’t take that away just because I’m not a dancing queen. For now, I’ll just have to deal with my dancing princess.