My Summer Survival Strategy (with my kids!)
It might seem like a strange thing to need to a summer survival strategy, but if you have kids, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. At the beginning of the summer holidays last year I wrote a post examining why I find the summer so difficult as a parent. I came to the conclusion that it’s not the summer or my kids that are the problem, it’s a combination of having to try and work from home at the same time as having kids hanging about as well as not always carving out some time to be on my own.
Oh and I also mentioned the fact that here in Ireland the summer holidays are sooooo very loooooong. The secondary kids are off for three whole months and the primary schools close for the whole of July and August.
However, last year I had no idea how easy I had it! How could I possibly know what was in store for us in 2020!! At least then there were normal activities, sports events, summer camps and trips away to look forward to. And on top of that they hadn’t all just been at home with us for the past three months due to a pandemic!
I think we all need to pause here for a moment’s silence and acknowledge how hard we have worked as not only ordinary mums, but homeschooling, housecleaning, also-working mums too!
Thankfully, some of the restrictions are easing now in Ireland, we are currently in phase two of our roadmap for the reopening of society so we can get out and travel within our own counties. Next month we will be able to travel all over the country. Some sports are starting up again too with GAA and cricket training commencing this week. However, my art camp that I run from my home can’t proceed and the residential camps the kids were looking forward to have all been cancelled.
The months ahead seem like a blur in my head so I need to develop a plan to help me survive! To keep me sane! And ensure I don’t become a more than normal shouty-mum who yearns to attack the bottle of wine/gin at 11am!
So here is a list of a few things I think will help, in other words,
My Summer Survival Strategy:
1. Assign chores
Our kids have specific chores they each normally do but some days there are extra jobs that I need help with. I have a little white board which I have divided up into columns with each child’s name and I write the additional chores as a reminder on the board, trying to make it fair for each child.
2. Outsource cooking the dinner
I write meal plans on the weekends as I shop on a Monday and so I ask each of my children what they would like to cook for one of the dinners the coming week. As I have four kids (aged 18,15,13 and 11) and my husband likes to barbecue on the weekend it means I have to cook maybe once or twice! I have to help supervise sometimes but overall, the time I spent teaching them has reaped so many dividends in free time for me as dinner prep time is now the hour when I go and take some time for myself if I’m not needed to help.
3. Plan play dates/sleep overs
My girls are very sociable and would probably prefer to live with all of their friends rather than at home. So if I lose count, I end up agreeing to every possible play date and then spend a lot of time playing mum-taxi around the countryside. Then there’s the inevitable fall out of “it’s not fair ‘cos she had more play dates than me!” I plan to start writing these in my diary to keep track of who went where and when. My role is shifting from mother to Chauffeur/Personal Assistant.
BTW Play dates with younger kids work really well if you can arrange them to be reciprocal, perhaps once a week with another mum to allow you some time off. I did this when my kids were toddlers and the freedom felt a little strange to begin with!
4. Plan weekly excursions with the kids
I would like to get out and visit some of our favourite local places that are now open again for business like the Irish National Heritage Park. This park offers a discounted rate for local residents which is a great incentive and it would be wonderful to see more of this at other attractions. This has been a tough time economically for all of us so although we need to support local business, there is a limited amount of spending money left for families too.
There are a host of free places nearby too like the beaches, hills, the new Min Ryan Park so I am planning to pack picnics and get out with the children to somewhere different each week if the weather stays good.
5. Set aside time to exercise
I mentioned above that the time before dinner is a great time for me to workout. I have started back on the 404040 plan* which is specifically tailored for women over the age of forty and I am enjoying the fact that the exercises are flexible in that you make them as challenging as what you are able for.
During the lockdown it was lovely to get out and cycle around our neighbourhood as the roads were quiet but the traffic has increased now so I’m not as comfortable on these narrow lanes. We also got out as a family on walks more but these have become more infrequent lately. I would like to get the kids out to walk the dogs more regularly.
6. Book a local holiday
Last summer we went camping with extended family and friends in England at a fabulous campsite called East Creech Farm in Dorset. However, due to various pitfalls that we accidentally fell into, we decided that we are now officially ex-campers, so we ditched out tent in the autumn and bought a caravan! Now this coming summer we are very excited to be taking our caravan on its inaugural trip to a couple of campsites in Ireland.
Unfortunately we won’t be able to travel further afield to France or Spain so hopefully the weather stays dry here, but at least we won’t complain of the heat!
7. Encourage the kids to take up new projects
Kids nowadays seem to think that watching YouTube or TikTok videos qualifies as a hobby. Embroidery, knitting, and crochet are not common skills anymore, in fact I have tried to teach two of my girls to knit but I failed. Not sure how but suddenly their 8 fingers also turn into thumbs and I can’t bear to watch the carnage.
They enjoy painting and drawing though so I will be encouraging them to be creative this summer. Rebecca and Fia have started redecorating the dolls house interior with paint and wallpaper samples and hope to keep the project going over the next few months.
Here are some art projects you could do with your kids if you are looking for ideas.
Recently, one of the crazy, chaotic but fun projects we embarked on was creating a family band with three of the children playing instruments and four of us singing. It took a lot of arguing and rehearsal to record a 3 minute song but we agreed we would love to do it again, listening to the final result was so exciting!
8. Board games instead of screens, sometimes
Usually by the time the evening comes I am happy to veg out on the couch in front of Netflix so the weekend afternoons are better times for board games. We have been playing loads of new ones this past year which I have been sent to review here on the blog so if you are looking for some ideas, I can recommend some great games in this post 30 brilliant board games for tweens and teens.
Finally I need to acknowledge that I can’t work from home unless I set up uninterrupted time to work. Thankfully my kids are old enough now to take care of themselves for a couple of hours at a time, I just need to let them know the times that I am working and then balance this by making time for them around that.
Last year the summer flew by in a flash and I expect this will too. Do you have any plans for the summer? How do you hope to manage the time at home with your kids?
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