As a mom who works full time year-round, it’s easy to treat summer no differently than the rest of the year. However, I love the idea of making summer special, even if our work and daycare schedules remain the same. Here are a few ways we’re embracing the season, without taking off 2 months of work (a girl can dream though, right?).
Relax routines. Full disclosure, I am sharing what is working for me right now, as a full time working mom with just one child so far, an almost 3 year old toddler. I know people can be mighty particular about their routines, so if this doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. With that said, despite being a very type-A, routine-oriented person, during the summer I try to be more flexible and relax our routines a little. Most nights I stick to the same bedtime, but occasionally I’ll let Jona stay up later than usual to enjoy time outside. Or maybe I’ll indulge him in a treat (read: NOT a vegetable or fruit) at the farmer’s market, knowing full well that it will likely spoil his lunch. I don’t throw out the rules and routines ALL summer, but to me summer feels more enjoyable when I allow those little indulgences.
Be a local tourist. Kansas City has so much to offer when it comes to family-friendly activities, and summer is the perfect time to explore. This summer we’ve gone to a Royals game, visited Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, scoped out the Overland Park Farmer’s Market, and played at several parks. We’re also working on a special project, near and dear to my stomach heart, discovering the best ice cream in KC. It’s been a challenging, but delicious, endeavor.
Take advantage of summer events. Summer is prime time for local, family friendly events, many of which are cheap or even free. For example, the Olathe Public Library offers evening story-time in the summer, which I love, because I work during their regular daytime story-time hours. There are also lots of free summer concerts throughout the city, as well as festivals and fairs with food and entertainment. (For more ideas, check out this Kansas City Moms Blog post on summer in KC.)
Create a no pressure summer to-do list. Emphasis on no pressure here. At the beginning of June, I made a list of about 10 fun things I’d like to do this summer. On my list are things like make homemade ice cream, go to garage sales, and visit the farmer’s market. These are fun items that I want to do, not things like “clean the garage” or “organize my living room”. I don’t pressure myself to accomplish every single thing on my list, rather, when I’m thinking about plans for the weekend I’ll look at my list (which I wrote down and flagged in my planner) for inspiration.
Cut yourself some slack on the chore front. Speaking of to-do lists, the one for household tasks is always never-ending. In the summer though, I try not to stress too much about it, and focus more on spending time with my family. I feel like we’re on the go more often in the summer, which often means that housework is neglected for longer than I prefer. So, I take care of things when I can, and not worry about it too much otherwise. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, but I’m trying.
Enjoy the tastes of summer. To me, this means two things: seeking out fresh, healthy produce, but also indulging in summer treats. I think that between these two extremes lies summer’s food sweet spot. I love summer produce, and my family eats more fresh fruits and vegetables in summer than any other time of year. At the same time, we also eat ice cream more frequently this time of year too. It all balances out I think.
Accept your situation. This is a big one for me, and one I sometimes struggle with. My husband is a teacher (although he usually teaches summer school), and I have a lot of friends who teach as well. Sometimes I look at their summer breaks with envy and wish I had the luxury of a summer off work. However, I used to be a teacher and know that a summer break is a meager trade-off for the long hours and take-home work that teachers take on, for not nearly enough pay, the rest of the year. Instead of grumbling about my summer non-break, I focus on making summer feel special in a way that works for my family’s schedule.
How do you make summer special?