Hacking Summer as a Parent

It is that time of year again—the time of year when kids start to celebrate the end of the school year and when many parents start to panic. Wondering how to schedule all that free time, juggle work, and still enjoy a bit of time off? Here are a few ways to rethink summer challenges and to ensure family time is fun time not frantic time.

Prepare

Preparation is the mother ship of parenting. If you have ever tried to find a fantastic and reasonably priced summer camp for your kids but not started looking until late April or tried to hire a great summer babysitter in late June, you’ll already know that preparation is something you simply can’t afford to ignore. But maybe you’re thinking, that’s me…I’m that person who waited too long. If you are, don’t panic! You may have to work a bit harder (e.g., if all the best local camps are already full, try calling around—spots become available at the last minute and this may or may not ever be advertised on the camp’s website), but don’t assume you can’t or won’t find a way to build a great summer plan that meets your child’s needs and your own needs. For more on preparation, read these tipson what it is and why it is vital to everything we do.

Plan Your Weekends on Wednesday

Just as it is vital to prepare for summer well ahead (yes, this probably means starting to look at prospective camps in January), it is vital to plan your weekends mid-week rather than on Friday night or Saturday morning. To being, ask yourself: What are you going to do? Where are you going to do it? And, what do will you need (e.g., food, supplies, gifts etc.)? Once you have a plan, start booking ahead and ordering your supplies (e.g., use Amazon Prime and your favorite grocery delivery app to have any essentials delivered to you by Thursday night or Friday morning).

Plan Next Week on Friday 

It’s Friday and your weekend is already planned! You’re doing great, but don’t stop planning now. Your weekend will likely be fully consumed with family activities, so take time out on Friday afternoon to plan ahead for the coming week so you can hit the ground running again on Monday morning.

Plan More Activities than Needed

I am learning that with little kids, more activities can mean more fun. This can be as simple as making cards for upcoming birthdays or as complex as a full blown daylong or overnight outing. I keep a list of people to see, activities we can do tougher, and try to have indoor and outdoor options in case the weather suddenly shifts. I also have a random collection of “stuff” from the dollar store on hand for longer rainy days. And don’t forget, a can of shaving cream can transform a bath from a task into an awesome adventure.

Systems are a Source of Sanity

Having a line of sight on what needs to happen is 90% of the battle, but you also need to communicate this line of sight to everyone else. If you are clear about what needs to happen, but it is in your head, you will forever be responsible and potentially resentful that you are. Writing everything down is a key part of being able to delegate tasks to everyone on your team. Systems can also help you automate simple tasks (e.g., reordering vital items, such as diapers or juice boxes). Finally, by ensuring you’ve put everything into written and added everything essential to your calendar—and shared the right information with all the right people on your work and home teams—you can ensure nothing vital gets dropped…like who is scheduled to pick up the kids at day camp.

Break Assumptions

Most parents I know feel there is a long list of “should dos” when it comes to parenting. It is important to notice these assumptions and then consciously decide whether you want to adopt them for your family. A simple example is family meals. I personally value the importance of a family breakfast more than a family dinner. I feel more in control, it is a happier time of day, and since my children are still preschool age, they simply want and need to eat an earlier dinner than my husband and I do.

Finally, as you carefully consider the assumptions that so often inform our parenting decisions, don’t assume that your fall, winter, and spring routines necessarily need to be carried over to your summer routine. Since workloads lighten in many sectors during the summer months, for many of us, summer offers a bit more breathing room. This makes it a great time to break up regular routines and be just a bit more spontaneous and flexible. When you do this, you’re also demonstrating something important for your kids—the ability to adapt, let go, and relax. As they grow older, knowing how to enjoy life and pursue joy in everything they do will be a lesson they can carry forward into all four seasons.

Source > http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hacking-summer-as-a-parent_us_596e6a08e4b05561da5a5b5a

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