For most of the world, the term “summer break” brings to mind pleasant thoughts filled with relaxation, happiness and fun.
For the working mom, however, summer break can have a much different meaning.
You. Need. A. Plan.
If you’re considering “winging it,” don’t. That approach is nothing short of EXHAUSTING. Trust a veteran. The summer I winged it I failed so tragically that I ended up at a salon in September spending my hard earned dollars covering up my new grey hair.
Working parents should approach summer break like they would approach planning an African safari. Both are hot and sweaty, require tremendous logistical and tactical expertise to implement and both have the potential for bodily harm (or at the very least a mental breakdown, most likely YOURS).
It’s all in the details, my friends. The more you plan, the easier your life will be. Theoretically.
Summer Sanity Tips
Boredom Buster/Busy Bag:
Approximately two hours after school officially lets out your child will announce his boredom. Instead of reaching for a margarita, usher your small human to his busy bag where he can find something to keep himself busy.
Some ideas for the contents include: crayons, markers, pens, craft supplies, drawing pads, activity books, new puzzle games, cards, small toys, etc.
I recommend giving every child their own bag. It’s exciting, simple…and there is less fighting.
Oh the grocery bills! Seriously, your wallet will take a hit from all of the grazing the kiddos will be doing. But a stocked pantry in advance equals less panic attacks for you and less whining from them.
I recommend keeping fresh fruit, hot dogs, hamburgers, popsicles and other items on hand for easy “spur of the moment” cookouts. If you really want to get a gold star in advance preparedness class, hit Costco and load your cart up with sun block, bug spray, hand wipes, paper towels, napkins, individual snacks, icy push-up pops, small boxes of cereal, canned or plastic bottle drinks.
And, 1,000 extra fake parenting points are awarded to the person who thinks ahead enough to freeze their kids’ favorite meals. (But for realz, who even does that?)
First Aid Kit:
If you don’t have one together already, get on it. Someone will get hurt in some way, at some time. Best to be prepared.
Family Command Center:
Your car is your new command center. Who are we kidding? It’s the center of your kid-universe! If you want to win at this summer parenting game (and you do), stock your car like it’s your home.
- Sweatshirts/jackets/long pants/poncho: Summer temperatures vary (pool heat to sub-zero air conditioning) and its important that no one stays miserable for long. Keeping these extras on hand will ensure you are prepared for anything. It also means you’ll be able to be that “spur-of-the-moment” gal.
- Socks/sneakers/flipflops: If you have spares, they will also come in handy.
- Sun block/Bug spray: Must haves! Always keep mass quantities in the car.
- Towels/blankets: You never ever know. (Rain storm dancing? Star-gazing picnic?) Spur of the moment adventures require all the things.
- Folding chairs: You’ll need them at some point. (See above.)
- Outdoor toys & games: Similar to the busy basket, keep a few games and outdoor toys handy. (Tennis or soccer, anyone?)
- Snack bags: Prepackaged pretzels, chips and other items that will survive in the car, even in the sweltering heat. Anything that could potentially save the fam from hunger is a great candidate.
- Emergency money: For ice cream trucks. And Rita’s. And Sangria.
Summer camps have long been a working parent’s saving grace during the summer months. I consider them a win-win for the family. My kids get enrichment activities and make new friends, while I have peace of mind during the work day. I’m a big fan of the Frederick YMCA programs as well as the Frederick County Parks & Rec Camp Monocacy at Pinecliff Park. For the older ones, the Y’s Counselor in Training program is ideal, as is the United Way’s Summer Serve program.
If you have children who are tech-savvy and independent (and who doesn’t) this list building tool is a life-saver. There are so many ways you can use Wunderlist – listing out ideas for activities, summer reading lists, summer bucket lists or my personal favorite, as a reoccurring chore list.
Summer doesn’t have to be a stumbling block for the working parent. With a little bit of planning both you and your children can really enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer together.
Got any of your own tips to share?
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