Summer vacation – let’s be real, may not be everything you’ve built it up to be. (Snapshot: bugs, sticky hands, constant sweat, and regrets about not working more on your summer body so you can look good at the obligatory family zoo outing). What happens during summer vacation for the millions of parents who are still working, juggling time away and at home? Trying to balance kids’, society, and your own expectations of what summer vacation should look like can be exhausting and result in big disappointments. Keep reading for some essential steps for parental survival of summer vacation.
- Take a deep breath (but not too deep – seasonal summer allergies suck). All parents (and kids) are NOT created equal. Remind yourself that what summer looks like for Phoebe the perfect mother with coordinated summer outfits, cute boat shoes, and organic summer themed snacks during every stinking activity is not what summer has to look like for your family. (Everyone arrived together, everyone is alive, and everyone is dressed – success).
2. Do not plan every detail. Let’s be real – part of the beauty of summer break is not having a schedule (for your kids anyway). Prioritize what has to be done at a certain time (think childcare) and let the rest happen as it will. (Except for the summer camp/activity dropoff and pickup times – apparently those are fairly rigid and chances are if you don’t prioritize them this summer, next summer you will be planning even more activities at home.)
3. Get your family’s input on what they want summer to look like. You may think your youngest is really interested in glazing astronaut themed pottery, but what if they really just want to catch bugs in the backyard? (Hint – bug catching is much more affordable than astronaut themed pottery class). Hold a family meeting to get ideas, which realistically probably looks like 5 minutes of everyone shouting what they would like to do during a car ride home from dinner, while you try to keep track of it in your phone’s note taking app. You may be surprised at how simple everyone’s ideas of lasting summer memories are.
4. Stay flexible. You are going to have days where it rains when you planned the pool, your childcare falls through, there is a work emergency, or little Tommy broke his arm catching inexpensive bugs in the backyard and has a cast on for the rest of the summer. If you are too committed to your summer plans, everyone will end up frustrated and disappointed.
5. quality time. Easy to say and hard to define. But really, when it comes down to it, 20 minutes of a good connection with your kids will create better memories for them (and you) than 4 weeks of elite summer dance and art classes. So kick off your 5 year old flip flops that go with every pair of gym shorts you plan to wear this summer and chase your kids with the hose in the backyard. Get muddy. Scream, laugh, tickle. Summer is short, and before you know it you’ll be planning for holiday get togethers.