Summer Survival, Part One

summer survival guide

Ahh, summer! The season to savour sand between your toes, slurp ice cream cones and play in the garden… if only I don’t go insane.

Too often my summer days have been spent cleaning up messes and serving as the media police.  As a SAHM I’m always at work, and from July to September this is my busy season. Everyone else (including my teacher husband) is on vacation. I should be too, but that’s near impossible if the rest of the family treats home like an all-inclusive resort. I may wear many hats as a mother, but maid, chef, and entertainment director aren’t on that list!

As mom I wield incredible power. Experience has taught me that trying to make things perfect for my precious darlings is one of the worst things I can do. For all of us. Sacrificing my needs to the point of an emotional meltdown is never a good idea. Makes for a miserable summer too. After all, if mommy’s unhappy, then everyone suffers!

So how do I survive the summer?

Through much trial and error, we have found a way to make the opposite happen. Getting the entire family involved- be it housework or activities- means that fun is had by all. The expectation is everyone  helps out. That way  everyone gets their turn to relax, even me. Instead of planting the kids in front of the tv for endless hours, we get out and have fun. Happy summer memories are made.  By the time school rolls around once more I’m sad, not relieved.

Here’s my secret in making this happen.

baking kids measuring cup

The Sanity Saver

First let me be clear: Mary Poppins I am not. Nor am I supermom. Sometimes I like to pretend  I am, but that generally leads me down a dark and dangerous path ( have I mentioned those emotional meltdowns yet?). Nagging is my usual way to inspire my children. Not terribly effective, but logic has never been my strong point, especially when I’m grumpy from being treated like the hotel staff.

Nope, the credit for this survival plans is all due to my husband, the wonderful Mr. Tilney. He came up with the idea, and after some brainstorming we came up with a solution.

It’s a list. A list of daily tasks/activities the kids needed to complete before they can indulge in any media. Reminders may be needed, but the kids are so used to it now that they usually do it independently. We’re flexible on the order, but that’s about it.  This ensures that the house stays clean, and no one gets to park their butts in front of a screen all summer long.

This is will be our third summer using it. It’s great because it works. Here’s our list. The time requirements are just a minimum. Ifthe kids get absorbed in something we roll with it.

Adjust things to the needs of your own family, then with this list get ready to enjoy your best summer yet!

Our Summer Survival Checklist

1. Get Ready for the Day

That means beds made, pajamas away, and teeth get brushed. It’s summe though, so our deadline is noon.

2. Cleanup Breakfast

Moving your dishes from the table to the counter does not count.

3. Clean Your Room

No one-despite my kids assurances- can really relax in a mess.

4. Extra Chore

You live in this house, you help take care of this house. Simple as that.

5. Piano Time (15 mins)

Vary this with whatever you need. Find any mental gymnastics to keep their craniums in shape over vacation. My kids take piano so that’s what we do.

6. Read (30 mins)

Huzzah reading for powers! Some peace and quiet? Bliss.

7. Play Outside (60 mins)

Summer is fleeting, especially here in Canada. Come November the video games will still be here. The green grass and sunshine won’t.

8. Toy Time (60 mins)

No point having all those toys unless they’re used, right? Let’s enjoy the investment! (Just put everything away when you’re done.)

9. Creative Time (30mins)

Let your kids play with their inner artist.  Kills time and festoons your fridge with artwork!

10. Family Activity

Picnics, a trip to the zoo… this one is anything you want it to be! So long as you’re together and out of the house, it counts.Survival of the Prepared

My favourite part about this plan? The list takes most of the day for my boys to complete. Somedays they don’t even get media time. We seldom get more than half-hearted complaints because they’ve had fun. Best of all, the house isn’t a disaster zone! I’ve had time to do things I love too: be it sewing a cute little cindermouse, writing, or -lemonade in hand- reading a good book.

Photos courtesy of Bumbershoot Photography.

“If ye are prepared ye need not fear.” This extends beyond any zombie apocalypse my friends! Getting through the summer with our sanity intact is not some pleasant fantasy. It’s my reality.

Now that you know how to get through the days, what about the weeks? Some extra planning for those keeps things running smoothly. My weekly schedule for making that great summer happen, plus the ultimate summer reading lists are coming up next, so stay tuned!

Until next time, enjoy the sun and happy reading to you all!


2 thoughts on “Summer Survival, Part One

  1. LOVE your list!! I too survive with a list, but on a daily basis. Sure, the list changes dependant on what’s happening, but by consistency of a daily list, little miss S has a better time doing her list without complaining.

    1. That’s the main reason why we have the list! We write it up, and then the kids go through it themselves. Keeps me from nagging, and thus, more happy and less stressed. Huzzah!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *