It’s summertime and like most moms of small children who enjoy the benefits of a preschool or mother’s day out program, this time of year can bring a fair amount of fear and trepidation. As I anticipate having all three of my children home 24/7, the stress level rises exponentially. At least, that’s been the case in the past. This year, however, I’m actually looking forward to the adventure. What changed? I have a strategy! Instead of reacting to summer, this momma is taking a proactive role in braving summer with small children. You can, too.
Here are 6 ways I’m preparing for summer.
1. Have a plan
This may seem obvious but you need a strategy to have a successful summer with small children. Even if it’s only a few days a week at a mother’s day out program, most children enjoy and benefit from the structure and predictability of a school environment. Consider bringing some of that structure into your summer. Take some time to determine what a weekly schedule would look like for your preschool crowd. Keep it simple and try to make the staple items consistent. For example, snack times, lunch and nap/rest time should take place at the same time or as close to it as possible every day.
If your children are older, enlist their help in creating a bucket list for special activities to pick from each week. Add in a few consistent items like a library time or park adventure and you have a plan! It may look a little boring on paper but a schedule will really help make your summer more successful.
2. Have a budget
The amount isn’t as important as being able to count on a set amount of money for that weekly trip to Chick-fil-A or the summer membership to the local pool. Having a summer budget you can resource is very helpful. It may be hard to justify the money but consider your budget during the school year. Do you pay for a mother’s day out program? Do you budget for clubs or sports or lessons during the year? A summer budget is just as significant an investment. You can use the money you’ve set aside to do the activities on your bucket list. Pay for camps. Get a membership for a local children’s museum or a water park. A budget can allow for impromptu treats from the ice cream truck or the local shaved ice pop up. Regardless of the amount, a few dollars tucked away for the incidentals can be very helpful.
3. Resource All the Free Stuff
Just because you have a budget doesn’t mean you have to pay for everything. Libraries have stories times. Churches host free or inexpensive V.B.S. programs. Many businesses and attractions provide free or reduced admission for children. Movie theaters and bowling allies have dollar admissions. Parks and splash pads are in abundance and free. Check out your local mom groups online for details and tips for free experiences. Moms love to share bargains!
4. Set Up Play Dates
Yes, it’s a lot of work to get out the door or open your home to friends but a playdate is truly one of the easiest and cheapest ways to have fun with your kids, catch up with a girlfriend and fill a day with purpose. Consider scheduling a play date 1-2 times per week. Up for a challenge? You can choose a theme for the day. You can center all crafts, snacks, and activities around a specific theme. Be careful though. You may find yourself having entirely too much fun planning!
5. Stock Up on Supplies
You can turn your backyard or kitchen table into a child’s summer time dream come true with the acquisition of a few simple and inexpensive supplies. Stop by the dollar spot at Target or the Dollar Tree to stock up on crayons, coloring books and art supplies. You can fill your backyard with sidewalk chalk, bubbles and hula hoops. Grab a kiddie pool and you’re all set! It doesn’t take much but a few dollars invested can make for a well-prepared summer with kids.
6. Embrace the Lazy and Crazy Days
Don’t forget that summer should be synonymous with slowing down. Sporadically ditch the schedule and declare a “bed head day.” Embrace the jammies and bed head hair. Watch movies all day and munch on cheerios. And when those crazy days come, no matter how prepared you are, or how structured you’ve laid out your day? Grace, Momma. Grace.
Summer with littles doesn’t have to be survival mode. With a little strategy, the right supplies in place, a budget (even a tiny one), and an arsenal of places to go, you can have a fun and memorable summer!
We’d love to hear what you have planned! What would you change or add to the list?
Patty Parker lives in Texas with her husband, Marshall, and three active children ages 2, 4 and 6. She loves dark chocolate, Micron pens, and journals. Patty loves sharing “me too” stories of her adventures in motherhood and works diligently to remove the isolation moms often feel on their parenting journey. She believes moms are stronger together and advocates for a supportive community of mothers. You can read more on her blog: pattyparker.me/blog