I will admit that with summer rapidly approaching, my anxiety level is already starting to rise. Summer can be so much fun. But, it can also be so much work. Sure, I could plop my kids in front of screens all day and they would be perfectly content little zombies, but that stresses me out too because being a 21st-century mom is exhausting.
So, if you find yourself, like me, feeling the anxiety ramping up thinking of having all your precious kids around you all summer yelling, “I’m BORED” in your face while you’re trying to have a moment of peace, here are eight realistic ways to mentally prepare for what is coming.
- Lower your expectations. I love the idea of keeping my kids busy all summer with camps, playdates, park trips, educational outings, and outdoor activities, but I’m also a realist. Some days, we’re just going to chill—quite literally—in the air conditioning. That’s okay. Lower your expectations right now. Kids can and will entertain themselves if you let them.
- Don’t try to have a Pinterest-perfect summer. There is no need to set up a water blob in your backyard (Google it) and there is no need to plan “21 Fabulous Outdoor Activities for Kids.” You don’t need to make your own chalk art or build a climbing wall on your fence. Kids will find things to do. Go ahead and prep your kids (and yourself) now for having a 1985 summer. Turn on a sprinkler and send them outside for an hour. They’ll survive.
- Talk to your kids about what will happen if they say, “I’m bored!” One thing I cannot stand is hearing are the words “I’m bored.” So, first, prepare yourself to do a deep breathing exercise when you hear that dreaded phrase. Then get ready to mutter the best response ever: “Okay! I’ll give you a chore then.“ Then, do it. I guarantee that you will not hear these words again anytime soon. For best results, tell them now that this is your plan.
- Start leaving wet towels and popsicles all over your house. The beauty of summer is that it’s fun and messy and sticky. If you’re going to mentally prepare for the chaos that will exist in your home, start now. Your house will be a disaster, and there’s a good chance you’ll find someone else’s dirty socks on your front porch because neighbor kids will be in and out all day long. Just tell yourself now it’s just a few weeks, and try to embrace the mess.
- Just plan on air conditioning the neighborhood. Budget in an extra few hundred dollars for all the doors that will inevitably be left open over the next three months. Threaten now that you won’t have enough money to send them to college if they leave the doors open when they run outside. They probably will anyway, so consider getting a second job. Or tax those lemonade-stand profits.
- Stock up on snacks. Right now you might think that Costco sized bag of Pirate’s Booty and Goldfish will keep your kids satiated, but you are underestimating the power of the summer feral child. Kids are playing longer, rougher, and they’re inviting their friends over to rummage through your pantry, too. You cannot have too many snack options in the summer. Go buy all the things right now, and get used to finding wrappers everywhere. And, if that one pesky neighbor kid tells you that you don’t have the right kind of granola bars, send that kid home.
- Embrace the screens. Look, I’m all for screen-time limits, and screen-free hours in the summer, but I’m also all for some mom sanity. Screen-time is your happy place in the summer. Don’t be afraid to use it, and use it often. Do not feel guilt. We’re all doing it. Some of us just don’t admit it. Yes, set limits. Yes, make them read. But, don’t worry if they play two hours of video games instead of your normal 20 minutes. They will be okay. And, you’ll be a lot happier, too.
- Get ready to say “yes” a little more. Say yes to the lemonade stands that are too much work. Say yes to the extra hour at the pool. We only get 18 summers (give or take) with our kids before they are moving on to bigger things and aren’t spending their summers with us anymore. Yes, it will drive you crazy in the moment, but try to find a way to still soak up the magic that is summer vacation.
It can be a lot to have your kids home with you 24/7. Summer is messy, sticky, dirty, and annoying, but it’s magical too. And your kids are only little once. Besides, how annoying is it really to make slime 27 days in a row? On second thought, don’t answer that.
But don’t worry, mamas. You’ve got this.