If your kid's summer vacation hasn't arrived, it's surely right around the corner. And whether they're going to be taking a break from full-time school or just switching things up at daycare, this time of year tends to throw everyone off their routine. This can be a great, welcome, very fun thing... or it can be a nightmare. Sometimes both, depending on the day! As a mom, I have seven summers under my belt, so I'm here to share my summer survival tips for parents, especially those parents who are dreading the next three months.
I feel qualified to give you these tips because, well, I'm still here! I have survived! That's something, folks! And while I hate a lot of what summer brings (namely temperatures above, like, 72 degrees) I actually have come to embrace the chaos that is handling two children from June to August. It's not always easy, and even under great circumstances it gets a bit exhausting, but it really can be fun. Going in with a positive attitude is a big part of the equation.
Another part of the equation, of course, is realizing that sometimes it's the opposite of fun and that's no fault of yours! It's just the way summer goes. Yeah, sometimes it can be a blast, but sometimes it can suck pretty damn hard. That. Is. OK. You don't have to have three months of non-stop, Instagram-perfect days filled with summer festivities. Some of those days are going to be a wash, and that's just fine.
So, without further ado, here are some summer survival tips, from me to you:
1. Lower Your Expectations
I'm not saying everything is or should go to hell over the summer. I'm just saying that people often get a little too ambitious about everything that is or should happen over the course of three months. I don't blame them! We have a whole lot of messaging about how special and fun this time of year is and, yeah, it can be! But for a lot of us, summer is just like the rest of the year, only hotter and with more pressure that we should be enjoying ourselves. And that additional pressure, in and of itself, can be a source of stress, especially when you feel like you should be creating good times for everyone in your family.
So I'm not saying to ditch the idea of doing anything fun, but maybe don't beat yourself up too much if you don't make your own popsicles every day and go on local outdoor adventures every weekend.
Also, be cool when your usual cleanliness standards go out the window when your kids schedules are such that they're home (and therefore creating chaos in your home) a lot more than they might if they are in school most of the day the other months out of the year.
2. Buy All The Water Toys
This will, of course, depend on where you live (I don't recommend a kiddie pool in an apartment, for example), but whatever water-filled/cool-down toys you can get your hands on is probably a good idea. Water shooters? Check. Super-Soakers? Check. Sprinklers? Check. Kiddie pools if you have the space? Absolutely. I call our 8-foot blow-up pool "the Au Pair." She's fabulous and she traveled all the way from Target to come care for my children this summer.
3. Buy All The Otter Pops
Honestly, I've yet to find a summertime woe that cannot be fixed by throwing an otter pop at it. Those things are the truly a panacea.
"But they're nothing but high fructose corn syrup and food coloring!"
4. Rely On A Few Good Playgrounds
Under typical circumstances, it's essential to have a trusty playground in your back pocket. Not only can you bribe your kids with the promise that you'll go if there if they behave, but even if you have a big back yard you need a dedicated space to be able to take them to burn off some energy.
During the summer, however, you will need to rely on that park more than usual. Sure, the shininess of the place may fade for your children, making it less effective, but that's why you pick a few parks and switch it up if necessary. That way each site stays fresh.
5. Use The Screens
Please just give into the idea that screen time can be really awesome and save your sanity. Find educational shows for them if you have to but, honestly, sometimes it's just too hot to move, let alone "play outside" and all you want to do is slug out in front of Sesame Street.
Roll with it and do not be ashamed. This is about all of you making it to September.
6. Tune Out Body Negativity
Yes, it's everywhere all the time, but, like the sun itself, it really tends to shine brightest in the summer. "Beach body!" "Bikini body!" Blah blah blah blah bullsh*t. Tune it out, put on whatever bathing suit you want, and enjoy the fact that you have the opportunity to go swimming with your kids.
7. Realize No One Cares If You Don't Shave
Not only is shaving on the decline, but most people won't even notice if you have a stray leg hair or two (or, frankly, fuzzy legs).
If you don't mind or even enjoy shaving: vaya con dios, friends. But if it's a pain in your ass (or, in my case, pain on the backs of my ankles) feel free to skip it. You have more important things to worry about, like the fact that you're running low on Otter Pops!
8. Discover Your Child's Current Weakness & Exploit It
What is parenting if not a series of loving threats made over the course of 18 (or more) years?
Learning what your child loves and threatening to take it away is a core parenting technique, and even more so in the summer, when they're off the wall (probably because of all those Otter Pops, to be honest) and constantly hanging about.
Of course, you have to be willing to follow through on your threat. So, if you have no intention of cancelling the family trip to Disney or taking away their beloved teddy bear (my son's teddy bear is so sentimental to him it's always off limits), don't make the threat. But get to know what they're enjoying the most or looking forward to and remind them that it's within your power to take it away.
9. Find A Countdown App
That way you'll always have an end in sight on the days when you need it.
10. Purchase A Good Kaftan
Why aren't we all wearing kaftans all the time? They're comfortable AF, breezy, can be dressed up or down, and do not need to be coordinated with anything unless you choose to bedeck yourself in fabulous jewelry. It's the perfect fashion item. "Draped in a kaftan" is the best way to live life, especially when it's summer and hot.
Get you a kaftan, friend. You deserve it
11. Pick A Signature Drink
It doesn't have to be alcoholic, mind you. I mean, mine is, but that's me, guys. You do you! Iced coffee, fancy fruit infused water, some sort of milkshake in disguise (it starts with a F and rhymes with cappuccino): it's your prerogative! You're going to need fuel to get through the summer.
And since this can actually be a very fun time of year, you should have a delicious beverage to help you celebrate that fact, too.