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Monday Mom challenge: Don't get overwhelmed!

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Overscheduled mom

You thought summer was going to be all about relaxing, didn't you? You thought about carefree days and no schedule and things like that. You may have had some of that - but how much of summer has had just as much busy-ness as the school year? How many times have you said to yourself, "I didn't think summer was supposed to be this busy!"

Woman sighing

When you are expecting something decidedly different, the busy of summer can be unexpected and overwhelming. The truth is that summer can be just as busy as the rest of the year with all the cramming in of summer activities that you are trying to do. It takes a concerted effort not to let it overwhelm you.

Take a deep breath and accept it

First things first, a deep cleansing breath is in order. You can figure this all out and you can still enjoy your summer. Summer may not be the same schedule or routine as the school year, but it's still a schedule and routine. There are things you still need to get done -- it's just that you're likely dealing with more transition issues than you realized. Calm and serene and lazy summers don't happen without planning! And you can get it all together -- and enjoy it!

>> Are your kids overscheduled?

Take a hard look at the schedule

Take a hard look at the family schedule. Where in the schedule is there the most stress? Why? And how can you change your strategy? Sure, you want to give every family member the opportunity to do what they want during the summer, to do what they enjoy, but if it makes you crazy trying to get everyone to every place, that's no good. It just increases the stress level -- for everyone.

>> How moms can plan relaxation time

Decide which summer activities are non-negotiable, and which are not. Which will you prioritize and which will you drop? Sometimes it makes no sense to be scheduling and prioritizing in the summer like it's the school year - but all the sense in the world at the same time.

Schedule down time

If you are not finding downtime for yourself and your kids easily in the summer, schedule it. Seriously, put "take the kids to the pool" on your daily to do list and make sure it's near the top. Make sure you schedule time in for yourself to read your favorite trashy magazines and gab with friends. Balance the multi-tasking you usually do with single-tasking - and basking in the sunshine is definitely a single-tasking item.

Ask for help

If you are still feeling overwhelmed, don't be afraid to ask for help. Ask for help from your partner, your kids, your extended family, your friends. Ask for help prioritizing, getting things done, transporting, and planning. There's no reason you should be solely responsible for making summer great. As with everything else, you may be the expert planner and put things in motion, but it's really a team effort. Ask your team to step up!

>> Letting kids be bored

The perception that summer is easy and lazy is a lovely one -- but all too often a complete myth. Buying into that myth can contribute to the feeling of being overwhelmed! Recognizing that summer is busy, too, can help you manage the busy more effectively...and really enjoy the "lazy" days of summer.

Making time for yourself

How to put yourself first

SheKnows.com tells moms why putting themselves first is so important!

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