Summer survival

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Summer vacation is here and we are all home together, making memories, and enjoying everyday to the fullest. Ugh, I wish it were that easy - amirite mommas? I do love summer and obviously my kiddos all home and wide open free days (especially the mornings) but there comes with it challenges as everyone is trying to get into a new schedule and everyone is starving all.the.time and everyone is bored all.the.time.

The summer stretches before us with wide open space and time which is blissfully exciting and a little unnerving with all these kids. So I came up with some ideas to keep us all (read: me) relatively sane and content as the summer rolls on. Here's some thoughts for other mommas and daddas out there wondering how to survive the summer (hah).

1. Food
Our kids can snack with the best of them and there are certain foods we can't even bring into the house and expect it to last more than an hour or two before it is devoured (read: toaster strudel or pringles) I knew that there was no way our kids could be successful on a 'no snacks' summer (only proper meals) but was honestly worried about them eating all of our food in the first week of summer. So I devised a daily Snack Option menu that is posted on our fridge. The kids can get their own snacks during the day, but it must only be the snacks listed for the day. They actually weirdly love the structure and having to see other snacks in the house but know they are saving them for another day. It is also nice that I can even include leftovers as part of the snacks and it keeps the fridge cleaned out and rotating. We have also been baking together, so those treats are listed on the snack menu too. Now if only to figure out a way to get them to put the wrappers in the garbage!?

2. Screens
If you're a regular reader, you know I'm all about the outdoor time over screen time. We have a tv in the living room and one in our bedroom (I lost that battle) and we have a firestick (netflix, prime, etc). So our kids definitely know and love the zombie'd out state of sitting in front of the tube. And the fight to switch from screens to something else is exhausting. To combat that awful tug-of-war, we've had a standing rule in our house (for about 3 years) that there are no screens before 11am. It's a hard rule that doesn't have exceptions, so the kids don't even ask anymore. There's something about them having to wake up and find something to do on their own that fuels their brains for the day. We usually don't turn on the tv until at least 2p and many times not even until dinner making so I can have a minute without someone hanging off of me. If we start the day without screens, they can make it so much longer without needing that distraction.

We also incorporate Screen Free Wednesdays in the summer and that applies to Mom and Dad too. Just a day in the middle of the week to unplug and be awake the whole day without distractions.

(our kids also have ipads, but they have been off the charger and with dead batteries since Screen Free Week and they haven't really noticed or cared - so they'll be staying that way until the new school year when they need them for studying).

3. Boredom
Without the distraction of screens (and even with screens) one of the most heard phrases in the house (second only to "I'm starving") is "I'm bored." My usual response to this is, "I have lots of chores you can do if you can't find something to do." hah.

We do keep a list of all the fun stuff we can do at home (similar to our screen free ideas list) that the kids can be reminded that there is actually plenty to do right here at home. The biggest mom issue I have to combat with this is the messes that working through boredom creates. The kids know they need to clean up after their mess, but also their version of 'cleaned up' isn't quite my version and it takes a lot to loosen my grip on perfection. I try very hard to meditate on the knowledge that ideas and play that is born out of boredom benefits their brain and expands their creativity. Just breathe, Momma.

4. Can we go somewhere? 
This is another common phrase from my kids all summer. We have time to visit new or favorite places with the wide open days during the summer so my kids get it in their head that we should be going somewhere every day. To keep the kids in check this summer, we made a "It's a good day to explore" jar. I took little strips of paper and wrote different spots that we can visit that are nearby without a lot of planning. They are so excited about pulling a paper out - hahha - they each have already done a 'practice pull.' I explained to them that we are only pulling out a paper if the day works for a trip - so we can't have a lot of other stuff going on (doctors appt, practices/games, graduation party, etc) AND it has to be a good day for ME (chores are caught up, no one is sick, etc) - which helps as a reminder that our chores will be caught up if everyone pitches in every day. Some of the things that are included in the jar: bikes/rollerblades in the school parking lot, hiking at a local trail/park, swimming at our grandparents', aunts', or cousins' houses, the local library, ice cream visits, mini golf, playground visits, quemahoming dam/beach, etc. 

photo cred: Gemma 
5. Perimeters
We are 'free range' parents which means our kids get a lot of independent time, including outside. Granted, we are blessed abundantly with the means to do this as we live on top of a mountain with a huge yard and surrounding wooded area (and farm land behind that). We really can parent like our parents did and let the kids outside by themselves and then scream for them to come home to eat. Our kids' perimeters around our home are based on their age and their own comfort levels.

6. Hygiene
We try to keep it simple in the summer - swimming counts as a bath. This is normal summer standard, right? We also try to keep our Thursday 'Hygiene Day' rule in tact so that all the kids get bathed/showered and nails clipped/checked on Thursdays. Because then I at least have an idea of the last time it for sure happened. #bigfamprobs

7. Bedtime
It's been several years that we have used the No Bedtime Summer at our house and it works for us. I am a morning person, so if the kids are staying up late and sleeping in, it actually works better for me than trying to wrestle kids into bed at night. We generally stay awake and outside until the sun goes down anyway which can be almost 10p in the summer - and we are often making a fire and sitting on the porch while the kids jump on the trampoline after that. The kids either crash out on the couch where they are or they go up to bed when they are ready by themselves.

8. Preserving the free time
This is new for me - I'm still learning - but I finally hit my moment of clarity to just say no to busyness. We got a ton of flyers home the last few weeks from school with all kinds of activities, day camps, and sports camps. I loved that there were so many ideas for about 45 seconds and then I was tired; tired of even thinking of the driving to and from and watching the clock. So I've been trying very hard to focus on the freedom of a clear schedule; no classes or camps or weekly commitments. Although (I said I'm still learning!) I have signed Gemma and Violet up for a week long camp each at our community arts center in July because Grey is playing all-star baseball this summer (another lost battle) and they get something just for them too. Gem will be doing theater camp and Violet is doing art camp.

So, that's how I am attempting to 'survive summer' with four energetic and starving all the time kiddos. What are your best tips and tricks to keep everyone relatively sane and happy during the summer?


  1. LOVE your snack idea! Definitely going to try that.
    Totally agree with your outside theory. When building our fence my husband purposely enclosed a large portion of the woods we own just to give our boys a (false) sense of freedom! ;)
    Found your blog through Ashley. :)

    1. what a great idea for the woods! Still freedom to explore and build and create on their own! Welcome and thanks for visiting!

  2. You know how much I love this post...we're the same way with the screens and "free range" too.