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A Mom's Guide to Surviving Summer Vacation

Photo by: iStock



The start of the school year is how many weeks away? Whether you’re trying to keep a single toddler entertained or have your hands full with a bunch of stir-crazy kids, summer tends to be the season when routines fall apart and parenting feels overwhelming. We talked to a few moms about how they survive summers with kids (and without losing their minds).

It Takes a Village
The first rule of parenting in summertime? Don’t do it alone. “My secret is paying for full-time summer care so we have activities planned every day and a regular routine,” says Amanda Ponzar. She sends her youngest to preschool camp in the summer, and leans on the other parents in her circle when she can.

“Many of my friends get annual passes to their area swimming pool and go with other moms/families, or have a regular date with a friend or family member who has a pool,” Amanda says. “I would pull my hair out and go bald if I had to come up with a plan every single day to keep the kids busy and having fun.”

Don’t have an army of besties to share childcare duties with? Look around your own little corner of the world. “One of my favorite strategies for keeping kids occupied during summer is to create a childcare co-op within your neighborhood or circle of local friends,” says Laura Spawn. “Develop a rotating child care schedule among your group, which can be organized by the ages of the children or divided into small groups so that no one adult is overwhelmed.”

You might be responsible for a group of kids a few days a week, but have the other days free to run errands or take some time for yourself. Kids love this schedule too because no two days are the same. “This allows the children to be engaged and stimulated by visiting different homes and experiencing new activities each weekday,” Laura says.

Change Up Your Activities
Summer days are looooong, and reading the same books and playing with the same toys gets tiring. To keep your kids engaged, introduce new activities. Learn to cook something new together (even toddlers can help stir and measure), take off on road trips to neighboring towns or use the time to help your kids learn more about the things they’re into.

“Summer can be a great time to help them explore their own interests,” says Amy Webb. “Past summers my sons have been into bugs, cowboys, dinosaurs, snails, etc. and so we take that interest and run with it. Find a museum that covers that topic or get an ant farm to study ants.”

Tackling cleaning projects is a good use of summer free time, and you can even frame it as a fun activity. “When the kids got bored with playing in their bedroom this summer, we emptied the entire room,” says Jamie Jeffers. “Then we rearranged the furniture and changed some of the decor on the walls. After I gave it a good scrub, we sorted through all the ‘stuff’ we’d brought to the living room and only put the most loved toys back in their room.” Spending one day making a big change can make your child’s bedroom feel like a new, exciting space.

Don’t Overschedule

Remember, summer should be a relaxing time for you too. Allow yourself to kick back with a magazine and an ice cream cone every now and then. “The main thing I have to always remind myself is that I don’t have to be the cruise director of my children’s lives,” Amy says. “It’s okay for them to be bored. They usually figure out something cool to do or dig out some unused toys to play with when they are bored.”



Kathryn Walsh is a freelance writer specializing in parenting and travel topics. Her work has appeared on mom.me, TheBump.com, and USAToday.com.

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