Just yesterday I talked to a girlfriend and fellow Mom who confessed, “I yelled at my kids today. I am exhausted and burned out. I just don’t know how we are going to get through the rest of the summer!” I commiserate because I have been there; and, it IS hard. However, with the right tools, support and effort, any parent can make the summer unforgettable (in a good way!). After all, you want to make the days count, not count them down.
Tips for Camp Mommy:
- Routine: Create a daily routine for your family. Events need not occur at the same time; but, rather in the same order. Children thrive on routine and predictability to their days. Here is a typical day for our family:
- Watch one show (my son’s choice)
- Free play
- Out of the house (library, park, field trips, and yes, grocery store, post office – any errands count, too!)
- Watch one show (my daughter’s choice)
- Read/Puzzles/Fine motor (4 year old)
- Read/LEGOS/School computer program (7 year old)
- Outside play or pool
If there will be any deviation from the routine I give the kids ample warning. I use a visual daily calendar from Etsy that shows the order of events for my 4 year old son.
- Establish rules: You and your kids should do this together. Ask them what rules everyone should follow so we can all have fun and be safe this summer. Collaboratively, come up with a list and display it prominently in your home. It’s ok if you did not make rules at the beginning of the summer; it is never too late! After coming up with your rules, decide on consequences as well. Let the children give input here, too. Stay consistent with the rules and consequences and ask that any other caregivers maintain them as well.
- Set reasonable goals: Sometimes we set our expectations so high that disappointment is almost inevitable. A few summers ago I wanted to work out daily, teach my daughter addition and subtraction and potty train my son. Not saying this is out of reach for everyone, but this was not a feasible summer goal for us that year. So, based on your family, the time you have, and how much effort everyone is willing to put in, create meaningful goals. Here are some goals we have had and some we are working on or need to:
Preschool goals: writing name, using scissors, sharing, potty. Elementary goals: reading comprehension, handwriting improvement, math skills. Mom goals: Reading, date nights with spouse, exercising 3 times a week.
- Mom support: Of course you love your kids! But, you are human and you will need breaks in order to avoid being irritable and exhausted. To be the best mom possible, gather your support. That can be local grandparents who can give you sporadic afternoons off, girlfriends who will meet you last minute at the park so you can talk to other grownups while the kids play, and anyone in your village you can count on to listen to you, love on your kids and recognize when you might need a bit of respite.
- Resources: Although there is a sense of pride in creation, sometimes it is nice to leave it to someone else and save yourself the time. For activities at home, I love ideas from busytoddler and allieofnoflashcards. For local, in-person activities, where you can show up and someone else is in charge, Little Sunshine Kindermusik has play-dates (register online in advance), Magnolia Grange has craft days, Pocahontas Park offers a slew of programs, as do Happy Palette, Art Factory and the local libraries.
Kids are only little once (cliche, I know), so plan ahead following these tips to make it a fantastic summer for all of you!
Richmond on the Cheap editor Lindsay Garrison is a Richmond, Virginia based mom to two young children. A graduate from Chesterfield Schools and Randolph-Macon College, Lindsay is proud to call Richmond home. In the years prior to planning activities and outings with her own children, she was a French teacher. During her tenure she earned accolades for her creative teaching style and ability to connect with her students. Lindsay now applies the skills she learned when she was planning student trips to France, to her own family adventures. She can’t wait to take her own children to France one day! Follow the Garrison’s family adventures on Instagram: @thegarrisonsrva
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