It was only a matter of minutes of school being out for summer that my kids began fighting. One declared, “Stop looking at me!” to the other across the kitchen table. I knew it was going to be a long summer so I began planning in my mind what we'd stay busy with for sanity’s sake.
Two weeks in, I can say we’re surviving even though mornings are challenging with their fighting and name-calling. I've already implemented several of the suggestions below and they've brought more joy to our summer. I hope these can spark ideas and provide encouragement for your family’s summer break too!
Top Summer Survival Tips for Moms with Kids at Home:
1. Give yourself loads of grace and patience. This is at the top for a reason. Moms don't just carry a lot of laundry in the summer, but guilt too. Be sure to extend grace to yourself everyday.
2. Plan one outing a day. Sometimes you just need to get out of the house and then everyone is in a better mood when you return.
3. Utilize paper plates and cups. Sure, it costs extra and creates more trash but this will help you tremendously when you’re making breakfast, lunch, and dinner all summer long.
4. When it's possible, se parate yourself from the noise and chaos. Because if you don’t, you’ll be drowning in it. Allow yourself space each day from your kids and from one another.
5. Treat yourself to self-care. Schedule a massage or manicure, go for a walk, go to the chiropractor- whatever it is that you enjoy, take care of yourself and don’t feel guilty.
6. Don’t reward your kids with TV shows or electronics until they’ve cleaned their rooms and picked up after themselves. Then let screen time be their reward.
7. Have a family movie night. Choose one child a week to pick that night’s movie. Pop popcorn and enjoy resting on the couch together out of the hot sun.
8. Make root beer floats or ice cream sundaes. Sometimes a “hey kids, let’s get in the car and go get some ice-cream” really lightens the mood and helps them savor summer. Don’t be afraid to finish their cones either!
9. Allow yourself to adjust physically and emotionally. Don’t forget that a new schedule takes adjusting especially to the longer days. Let your body get adjusted physically, but especially emotionally.
10. Invite friends over for backyard water play. It’s easy to become isolated from others, but what makes summer the most fun is being with friends. Set up the sprinkler, pool, or slip-n-slide and cut up a watermelon.
11. Text the babysitter and prioritize date night. All the more as you’re with your kids 24/7 make the time to be with your husband and enjoy the warmer evenings out together.
12. Host a garage sale for extra cash. We did this last weekend and it was a blast meeting neighbors and bringing in extra cash. We made money off baking cookies too.
13. Attend a friend’s swim meet or baseball game. Encourage your kids' friends who are in sports by attending their events and cheering them on.
14. Put your exercise routine first. Summer doesn’t always provide a strict, set routine so be sure to put your exercise routine as a priority. You’ll feel better when you sweat and release endorphins.
15. Remember your girlfriends. Your friends are most likely going through much of what you are and need encouragement too. Grab coffee together, plan a girls night out, and treasure your friendship.
16. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Some days, you’re just going to need a helping hand. Ask friends or family for help so you can run an errand or have some quiet time.
17. Host a lawn party with your neighbors. Print out invitations and invite everyone on your block to bring a chair, side dish, and gather around your lawn.
18. Sign up your kids for Vacation Bible School (VBS) or local camps. I know moms that sign their kids up for multiple VBS programs at churches in their town. There’s no shame in that! Let them have fun, learn about Jesus, and get their energy out.
19. Schedule a professional photo session. Summer is the perfect time for family photos shoots. No one is shivering from the cold in the photos, you’ll have your summer tan, and evening golden hour is just breathtaking.
20. Put your kids in a sports activity. Our kids have loved swim team. They practice for one hour a day with meets on the weekends and it’s been a lifesaver. Sign your kids up for a sport they enjoy and watch them grow.
21. Create a family photo book of your favorite summer memories. I love using Blurb.com, Shutterfly.com, or Walgreens one-hour photo for reasonably priced books. Apps like Chatbooks will even sync your Facebook and Instagram photos and send you a book automatically in the mail. My kids love flipping through the books and seeing themselves.
22. Write cards of encouragement. What child doesn’t love to draw and color? Have your kids sit at the table and write notes to loved ones and friends. Have them label and stamp the cards themselves to put in the mail. They can anticipate a letter in return.
23. Focus on training your children in conflict resolution. Summer is a great time for training as you have more time together, thus more conflict. Look for teachable moments in times of frustration, fighting, and anger.
24. Give your children more responsibility. Can they feed someone’s cat or dog? Mow the lawn? Make cookies? Ride their bikes in the neighborhood? Help an elderly person with chores? Give them opportunities to take ownership and feel useful.
25. Give them the freedom to use their imagination in nature. Hit nature trails together, swim in the lake, have them play on dirt piles, build forts, collect bugs, climb trees, or play flashlight tag in the dark.
26. Don’t guilt yourself about screen time. The reality is that sometimes mama just needs a break and pressing play to a movie is a sweet relief to all.
27. Go to a craft store and let your kids pick out a project. They can paint a wooden birdhouse or jewelry box, paint a canvas, bead jewelry, create a wreath, and more.
28. Sell cold lemonade with friends. On a hot summer day, people will stop for an iced cold cup of lemonade. It allows your kids to serve and make some cash. Don’t forget umbrellas for shade!
29. Roast marshmallows and make S’mores in the backyard. Walmart has even done the work for you. Yesterday I passed a whole aisle dedicated to graham crackers, marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate bars, and lighters.
30. Go out to eat on Kids Eat Free night. Many restaurants have nights where kids eat free. This will get you out of the house with no kitchen clean up or money spent.
Embrace the time with your kids as much as you can in this special season. The days at home are long but summer is short and before you know it, you'll be school supply shopping again (how many of you moms are saying, Hallelujah?!).
There are many more ideas to survive the summer with your kids at home. What would you add?
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. Her writing appears regularly on Her View From Home, TODAY Parenting, and For the Family. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.