Either your kids are out of school for the summer, or they are about to be. While summer can be a time to relax, visit friends, and make memories, it can also be incredibly challenging. Days blur together, kids get bored, and patience runs on short supply. I know for myself, it's hard to find "me" time in a house filled with bodies, and even more difficult to keep on track with five personalities competing for attention.
In an effort to get ahead of the game, this morning I polled my Facebook, Twitter, and blogging friends to see how they are preparing to stay sane during the long, hot days of summer. Here are some of the most common answers:
- Buy a membership to the local zoo, children's museum, or another institution your kids will enjoy. Memberships are cheaper than paying for individual visits, and if you already have a membership, you're more likely to get up and go on the spur of the moment when you want to get out of the house.
- Sign the kids up for summer day camps, or hire a part-time babysitter to come in and help with the kids (especially if you work from home). Sometimes the stress of summertime comes from what feels like unending "togetherness" - introducing other adults or helpers into the mix can break up the routine and give everyone a fresh perspective.
- Familiarize yourself with the free outdoor activities in your community. Look for: hiking trails, parks, outdoor theaters, community concerts, splash pads or fountains. Keeping the kids active could be the secret to having some peace at home later in the afternoon as they rest or take some quiet time.
- Look for summer reading programs - either at your local library or online; PBS Kids and Scholastic both have great online options. Having something to keep your kids' brains busy and giving them a goal to work towards can keep summer days from feeling too aimless.
- Keep a stash of goodies on hand - toys, books, games, novelty items, crafts - that you found at the dollar store or discount aisle. Every so often during the summer, surprise your kids with something new to them. It doesn't have to cost much, and kids are typically entertained most by the unexpected.
And the number one piece of advice for keeping your sanity during the summer? Make and keep a schedule! Nearly every mom I heard from said that staying on a schedule, even over the summer, helps their family to avoid lazy, drawn-out days, boredom, and restlessness.
What about you? What's your "Mom Advice" for staying on an even keel while the kids are home for summer?