3 Simple Tips For Getting Your Summer Parenting Groove Back
Summer is supposed to be fun! And awesome! Except I’m a single mom with four kids juggling a full-time job, and well, FOUR KIDS, so the word fun isn’t exactly what I’d use to describe these hot, school-free months.
It’s not like I let the whole thing go to chance or anything, because I live and die by my schedule. But even with a sitter in the morning, day camp here and there for my son, and a sleep-away camp for my oldest, I found myself scrambling, frustrated by only a few hours of actual uninterrupted work time, then feeling claustrophobic surrounded by any number of bickering kids at one time or another.
Add in the screen-time guilt, the heat, the lack of exercise because no-kid time is strictly reserved for bill-paying and not butt-shrinking work and it has not been pretty.
But when things generally go all perfect storm on me, I find that creating rules and boundaries really help, especially since I need to survive another entire month of summer. Here, 3 simple things I did (and learned) that have changed my summer completely.
1. Budget your time wisely
If you’ve only got a limited amount of time sans kids whether it’s because of camp, a babysitter, or a very smartly planned playdate, my advice is take complete advantage of that time. That means only do the things that you ABSOLUTELY cannot do with your kids around during that time. As much as I’d like to sit and catch up on news, flip through Facebook, or do laundry, I know that I can do all of those things either in the evening after they’re in bed, or with them awake and playing around the house.
So, for those few precious hours, I schedule calls, write blog posts and columns, and run any sort of errand that would be incredibly painful with kids. I’ve learned, for example, that I can check email, even do some social media for my job, with the kids around. This might actually take you a little time to figure out, but once you do, trust me, you’ll find you’re getting way more done, and even better, with your sanity in tact.
2. Plan things for the kids to do. And, you too.
As much as I’d love to leave my kids’ activity level to chance, that’s really not great for my sanity because they just aren’t very good at it. And honestly, when they do, it’s usually something that involves gigantic messes that take way too long to clean up. That means, I’ve prepared for the week with a bunch of fun crafts, cool activities, and playground outings, all of which I’ve put on the calendar so that the kids know what to expect and I do too. This includes playdates. Say “yes” to playdates.
This also means building in time for yourself too, whether it’s getting a sitter in the evening so you can go out for some quiet time, scheduling a girl’s night out, don’t forget about yourself.
3. Make screen-time rules
My kids are constantly asking for screen time, and so I decided that instead of telling them “no” or “later” or arguing with them about it, I would just create specific rules so they would know what to expect (and I would know when I’d get a little bit of quiet time). For me, it works well to let them play first thing in the morning because they wake up so darn early, though they do need to complete their chores, eat breakfast, and get dressed before they do. Then, they’re given another time in the late afternoon while I cook dinner. That’s it. Once I established this as the routine, the nagging completely stopped. Well, mostly anyway.
And hey, it’s important to be able to let certain things go too. For me, I’ve pretty much resigned myself to picking up exercise and fitness in the fall when I’ll have more time. Whatever it is, know that you might need to let a few things slide until you’ve got more time back.