Confession: There is somthing about summer that stirs up my mom guilt. It’s not that I don’t love more time with my kids. I do. But it’s the way things can spiral so quickly when I don’t have a plan and end up so far from the summer fantasies I have.
You see, all year long I think about summer vacation. You too?
Less driving and fewer schedules to follow.
I fantasize about lazy days in the sun without the pressures of the school year.
But unfortunately, when holidays start, the first few weeks can be a bit bumpy while we all try to find our balance. I can easily wind up feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, wondering how I will get through the 8 weeks that loom ahead of me.
Perhaps for you it plays out in your life like this…
6am: Kid: Mom….can I have Fortnite?
Mom (still sleeping): No, not this morning.
7am: Mom… can I have Fortnite?
Mom: No, not this morning. Let’s do something else…
7:30am: Mom… can I have Fortnite? We aren’t doing anything yet.
Mom: No, not this morning. I’d really like to do something with you….
7:45am: Mom….can I have Fortnite?
Mom: Where is the number for the guy that created this video game so I can call him and give him a piece of my mind… Now, what on earth can we do to have fun together…
Or maybe this just happens at my house……
But in all seriousness, this month in my practice, I have been strategizing with so many moms about how to keep living in line with their values (usually things like, patience, kindness, fun and love) while their munchkins are home with them this summer.
If you are anything like the moms I work with, long summer days with kids at home and a routine is way less structured than during the school year can be a recipe for mom guilt.
You know that nasty feeling that is so easy to get caught up in after becoming cranky with your kids or realizing they have played way to many hours of video games this week (because planning can be a lot of work).
2 Truths to Hold on to
1) Your kids need you to be “good enough”, not perfect. In fact, way back in 1953, Donald Winicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst observed thousands of babies and their mothers. He came to realize that babies and children actually benefit when their mothers fail them in manageable ways. (like spending a beautiful summer day inside folding laundry and cleaning bathrooms). So next time your kids complain that they are bored and there is nothing to do, you can remind yourself you’re benefiting them by failing them in a small way *wink*
2) Sometimes it just takes a little spark of creativity to help us reconnect with our values. A little inspiration to stir us and help use reconnect with the kind of mom we want to be. Stephanie (my awsome assistant) and I complied this list and offer it to you as a way to jumpstart your summer.
Here are our TOP 15 IDEAS AND TIPS
Preschool and Younger
1. Pack the buckets, sand toys, towels, drinks and snacks and head to a nearby beach – preferably one that has a gradual slope to the water… Sometimes it seems like nothing can make your young ones happier than splashing in water and digging in the sand. No need to spend energy inventing fun once at the beach!
2. Invest in a bike trailer (Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace are great places to pick up one affordably) and explore the nearby trails. Head to the Salt Marsh or the BLT Trails to enjoy the fresh air and the scenery. This is a great way to get exercise while making your children feel like royalty in their chariot. Plan for frequent stop requests as an animal or rock catches their eye.
3. On rainy days, you can have great fun with your little ones by building indoor forts using pillows, blankets, tables or anything the kids want to include. Extend the fun by having snacks and reading books in the fort. Often, once the fort has been built, you can get your own work done while the kids imaginations continue to create their own fun in and around the fort.
4. Visit a new playground at least once a week. It is amazing how excited this age group can get when you tell them the outing today is going to a new playground. Suddenly, you’re the best Mom. Use this list from FamilyFunCanada to make finding the next new playground easier.
5. Is there just too much work to be done some days for you to leave the house? Don’t worry. Just get out some buckets, bins or whatever containers you have and fill them with water. If you have a sprinkler – that would be great too. Supply your kids with funnels, measuring cups, rags and maybe some floating toys and they will be squealing with laughter – especially if you let them get you wet near the beginning of their play.
Elementary School Aged Kids
6. Check out the Public Library. You might be familiar with their summer reading program, but did you know they have a ton of great programs (like mini-chefs cooking, Bright Labs STEM classes, SuperNova Science) ALL FOR FREE! My kiddo did a 2 hour!! button (think 90s style badge) making class last week. She loved it! Grab a coffee and a book (or your fav podcast) and chill at the library while your kids learn some cool things.
7. Check out the beaches at local lakes and oceanfront. Pack a picnic and some shovels and sunscreen and chill out at one of the more than 19 supervised beach locations throughout Halifax.
8. Take your exercise outside WITH you kids. It can be so hard for me to carve out kid free time to exercise in the summer months. You too? It occurred to me the other day as one of my kiddos scootered after me on my run that I should drop the struggle and include them in my exercise time more over the summer. That way we can all come back sweaty and ready for a run through the sprinkler.
9. Have you ever been to Long Lake Provincial Park? This is a new favourite of ours! With bike/walking trails, swimming and kid friendly kayak and paddle board rentals, it is so fun!
10. Try a new recipe. My kiddos love cooking but I am not a huge fan of clean up. Making banana ice cream (seriously. It is delicious) in our food processor is a win-win.
11. Movie Nights….well, ok these can be done any time of the year, but last week we realized how long it had been since all 5 of us watched a movie at home together. The school year usually has at least one of our crew off running in a different direction. I bet this happens in your house too. Everyone from my terrific teen to down to the super seven year old loved being together watching and snacking.
12. Spend some time at the Halifax Emera Oval. With free gear rentals, they have you and your kiddos covered.
13. Have you been to the new Discovery Centre? Wednesday nights are free! What better place to go in rainy or crazy hot weather, so your kids aren’t cooped up in the house. You can all learn something new.
14. Bet you didn’t consider an outing to Pier 21 and the Seaport Farmers Market as a great rainy day combo? Spend the morning exploring the exhibits in the museum and then head next door to the Farmers Market to browse and find some lunch. There are always delicious eats to be had and you can pick up some yummies for supper too!
15. Explore the Bedford Waterfront and let your kids play at the recently rebuilt DeWolf Park. This is our favourite spot on hot, muggy days as the breeze from the basin is amazing. On your way home pop by Chicken Little (behind the Chicken Burger) for an ice cream cone. They usually have dairy free soft serve too for anyone who is allergic or is avoiding dairy. Yum!
Bonus: Podcasts for kids. We just discovered this one on a long drive, but it would be equally good for a day that you want to curl up on the couch.
Yes, its true you may feel like summer requires more effort and planning and your kids may still ask endlessly for Fortnite…. but, my guess is you’ll feel like you’ve been more like the kind of mom you want to be, and made memories that will last you all for a long time to come.
If you feel like you need some more help managing your emotions and schedule this summer, so you can be the kind of mom you want to be, let’s connect. You can book a free 15 minute consultation online or call Stephanie at (902) 702-7722 to schedule an appointment.
All my best,