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A Mom's Guide to Having the Best Summer Ever With Your Kids

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“I have so much to get done before school gets out.”

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately from all kinds of moms – full-time working moms, part-time working moms, stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, tiger moms, helicopter moms, default moms, hot mess moms, momsplaining moms, and the like.

I get it. If you have a big project at work, get it done. If you need to renew your driver’s license, get it done. If you need to rid your house of ghosts, get. it. done. If you’re overdue for a pap smear, mammogram, or colonoscopy, get that shit (pun intended) done.

But besides that, I don’t understand the chaos. Other than making a Costco run for Chardonnay and SkinnyPop, what exactly is everyone doing to prepare for summer? If you ask me, getting ready to survive have the best summer ever with your kids is less about what to do and more about what NOT to do.

1.Don’t clean the house. Your kids are going to trash it repeatedly all. summer. long.

2.Don’t reorganize the basement…yet. By early August, you’ll need a cool, quiet place to hide when your kids tell you they’re bored for the 1,000th time.

3.Don’t think about the astronomical number of meals and snacks you’ll be making and fetching all summer long. Three meals + one billion snacks x 80 days = I told you not to think about it.

4.Don’t lose weight for swim suit season. Um, it’s too late. Put on your bathing suit and play with your kids. You’re perfect just the way you are.

5.Don’t forget to unpack lunchboxes on the last day of school. You will detest this task because ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE EFFING SCHOOL LUNCHES, but you’ll loathe it more if you wait until the night before the next first day of school and require a hazmat suit to get the job done.

6.Don’t make a summer bucket list. Your kids will write things like “go to Disney World” and “become a famous YouTuber,” and they’ll be sorely disappointed when the highlight of their summer is making homemade popsicles.

7.Don’t make a summer fun book. You know, a three-ring, color-coded, and alphabetized binder with ticketing information, hours, and driving directions for every museum, aquarium, botanical garden, bowling alley, zoo, amusement park, and splash pad within a 200-mile radius of your home. Creating this behemoth of future failure might not only set your kids up for disappointment (see #6), but also it could result in some very long and whiny road trips. And do you really need another pile of crap on your kitchen counter?

8.Don’t forget to sign your kids up for camp. At some point, you’ll need a break from your kids, and your kids will need a break from Roblox. I assure you that sending them to a few camps will be cheaper than giving them a daily a la carte summer of “Can I have $5 $10 $20 for the pool snack bar?” with you.

9.Don’t make a bunch of rules. At least not right away. The kids deserve some downtime after nine months of writing spelling sentences. Try to wait a few weeks before you go postal about making chore charts, limiting screen time, logging summer reading, and practicing multiplication tables.

10.Don’t set your expectations too high. In other words, don’t blabber on about how this is going to be summer you learn Mandarin, plant a garden, eat clean, quit coffee, train for a half marathon, or declutter your house Marie Kondo-style. Having summer goals is okay, but tread carefully. Go ahead and make a list, but be prepared to toss it in your July 4th bonfire while your kids make s’mores and then touch every surface in your house with their sticky hands.

11.Don’t put off buying school supplies. We all know Target will have that shit on display by mid June (followed immediately by Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations), and it will be as hard to find the Star Wars folder your kid wants as it was to find an Elsa costume during the Frozen frenzy of 2014.

12.Don’t worry about personal hygiene. From Memorial Day until Labor Day, a dip in the pool counts as a bath.

13.Don’t freak out. Take deep breaths, ask for help if when you need it, and remember that in 80 days (not that I’m counting), you’ll be back to the grind making school lunches, signing reading logs, and nagging about homework all over again.

Happy summer, good luck, and may the force (and a weekly babysitter) be with you!

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