The kids are counting down the days until summer vacation. Their excitement is palpable! Long, lazy days of doing nothing makes your kids feel giddy — and you feel panicked.
Weeks and weeks of kids underfoot. Constantly. You don’t dare admit how you feel to the other moms at the bus stop — but you aren’t the only one who feels this way.
As much as you love your kids and enjoy spending time with them, that long of a stretch just feels… overwhelming. If the idea of a long summer with just you and the kids fills you with dread instead of excitement, you are not alone. Truly. There are other moms out there, even in your neighborhood, who feel anxiety at the prospect of all that unstructured time with the kids — although it’s not often socially acceptable to admit it.
If you dread summer, instead of allowing unrestricted, unstructured time for your kids (you know, the kind of time that is causing you such stress), try instituting “Camp Mom.” Keep a regular daily and weekly schedule of things for your kids to do, and for you to do with them. It doesn’t need to be as rigid as the school year, but just knowing that if it’s Monday, it must be library day can help you keep some level of sanity to your days.
Schedule down time
Make sure you schedule down time into your days, for your kids and for you. Overscheduling can happen in summer, too! For your youngest children, if nap time still happens, stick with that routine. For older kids, it could be reading time, or playing-quietly-in-their-room time — and you get some chill time, too. Use that time carefully. Do you really have to do the dishes now? Or can you veg out with a trashy magazine or some chick lit?
Camps, classes, play dates
If there is space in the family budget, sign the kids up for camps and classes here and there throughout the summer. It will give everyone something to look forward to. Likewise, be liberal with play dates — and remember they aren’t just for kids. Play dates are a chance for you to talk to another mom, too.
But don’t overschedule
That said, don’t make the schedule so rigid that if an offer for a fun day at the waterpark comes up you don’t feel you can do it. If anything, some (loose) structure can make those unexpected activities all the more enjoyable.
Set some intermediate goals throughout the summer. These can be plain goals (“Just 10 days until we’re half way through!”) — or rewards. If the first couple weeks of summer go well, plan a trip to the ice cream shop for sundaes, or schedule a sitter and do a night out with your sweetie.
Instead of dreading summer, find ways to make the most of it. Banish the anxiety and come up with a plan. With a few simple strategies, you just might have your best summer with the kids yet.
More on summer with the kids
How to plan a kid-friendly summer staycation
4 Summer crafts and activities the kids will love
How vacations make kids smarter