Maybe it’s the eternal child in me; maybe it’s the teacher, but when summer rolls around, I am literally giddy: no more lunches to pack, a chill vibe descends upon the house, and I have time to catch up on everything that got shoved aside during the hectic school year.
I have a lot of children (eight of them, in fact) who want to do all the things, with all the people, on all the days. I don’t blame them. It’s hard to ward off the Clark Griswold-esque inclination to over-plan, over-play, and over-do. But let’s face it; it can get pretty time-consuming and expensive. Choices need to be made. So lately, I began strategizing. With trial and error, I finally solidified these mom (and dad) hacks that keep us fun and functional all summer long.
Rise with the sun.
Yes, it is pretty early, but those morning hours are prime for mom productivity. First, my husband and I get our walk in before the heat of the day. Not only am I launched into my routine, but I am also well into the business of the day before the zombie heads wake from their summer slumber. Two hours before 8:00 AM has the same productivity level as four or five hours when the gang is awake.
Nothing before noon.
My kids know: don’t ask Mom before noon. That’s my time. How I choose to use it is up to me – errands, book-reading, chores, Netflix binging, writing, or working… it doesn’t matter. The afternoon is for the kids. This schedule allows me to avoid the redundancy of packing a lunch that I haul to the pool and pack back up and bring home and unpack again. And when it’s time to play, I’m ready because my important tasks are behind me. Time-blocking is a mother’s summertime BFF. Create uninterrupted blocks of time for essential tasks, and let the rest of life fall into the remaining crevices of the day.
First things first.
Though still met with a resistant sigh and eye roll, my kids are well-versed in proactivity. No pool, no friends, no day trips until rooms are in satisfactory shape and laundry is put away. This mama refuses to play housemaid. After a few days of consistency, everyone realizes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Last but not least is our blockbuster favorite. This biggie has helped keep our kids’ plans in check more than anything else.
Each summer, I make a list of non-negotiables, things that need to be done without fail. You know, life stuff. Meanwhile, our kids make bucket lists. Big plans, little privileges, experiences, and memory-makers. Then, fake dollars (much like Monopoly money) are earned by performing the non-negotiables on time and without complaint. The kids also take advantage of other earning opportunities that help the family out. Using “Help Wanted” ads, I offer up all sorts of extra chores too. Everything from watering plants to shampooing carpets is a chance to bank a little cash.
The kids pick and choose from the ads however they desire. The more time-consuming the task, the more fake money it pays. Finally, we assign prices to the sought-after bucket list privileges. A sleepover may cost $25 fake dollars, whereas a trip to the amusement park may be upward of $300. In the end, decision dollars prioritize what is important to the children while helping me get stuff done. The kids lose their sense of summertime entitlement and gain an appreciation of hard work. I gain extra time to enjoy them because my responsibilities are somewhat alleviated. Money is valued, and choices remain in the kids’ control. Win-win!
So, in this ice cream-for-dinner, living-room-sleepover, playdate, park picnic, poolside party season, give yourself a momcation too. A few hacks can help you make a soft landing somewhere between Nonstop Negative Nelly and “Yes Day” Ringmaster this summer.