Want to ENJOY summer vacation with more peace, joy, and intention? Follow these strategies to survive (and thrive!) during your kids’ summer break.
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I’m going to say something that might make me a bit of a mommy anomaly: I genuinely LOVE summer vacation with my kids. The extra time with them… the slightly-more-flexible schedules… the summer fun we have together… I love it all!
Related Post: 50 Backyard Activities For Family Fun All Summer Long
I realize, however, that many moms struggle with summer break, and if that’s you, I get it! I know the challenges that come during those months of being together all day, every day. All that togetherness doesn’t come without some extra challenges.
And our summers are certainly not all rainbows and unicorns. (Well, except that with Annabel, unicorns are always a constant presence in our lives!) We have our fair share of whining, fighting, and overstimulation. I’m quite familiar with the end of my rope, as I’ve reached it more than a few times over the years.
But I also know what a special, valuable time summer breaks are. And I determined years ago that I wasn’t going to wish them away. In fact, I wanted to do more than survive them – I wanted to ENJOY them! Not in that stress-inducing “You only have 18 summers, so make the most of them” kind of way, but in a purposeful “I made great use of our time” kind of way.
Related Post: It’s OK to Have Ordinary Summers
If that sounds like something you want from YOUR summer, check out the 10 strategies that are helping me survive and thrive during summer vacation.
How to Survive (& Thrive!) During Summer Break
Want to enjoy summer vacation with more peace, joy, and intention? Follow these 10 strategies to survive (and thrive!) during your kids’ summer breaks.
1. Choose your Mindset
The very first strategy for surviving and thriving during summer break is to intentionally choose how you think about it. Our thoughts largely determine our feelings and attitudes, so consciously choosing a positive mindset is KEY.
Decide beforehand what you want from your summer. Do you want it to be productive? Restful? Playful? Peaceful? All of the above? Keep that vision in front of you, determine what you need to do to fulfill it, and regularly course-correct by asking, “Am I being the mom I need to be to have the summer I want to have?”
2. Create a summer routine
Summer routines are great for both parents and kids. They give structure to the day, provide predictability and stability, and prevent everything from descending into chaos. I have a blog post on how to develop a summer routine for kids that you can check out if you want some helpful tips.
However, while routines are great, resist the urge to schedule every minute of your kids’ day. Contrary to popular belief, boredom is not something to eliminate from your kids’ lives – it’s actually good for them to get bored! Boredom is the soil in which creativity grows.
When you hear the dreaded groans of ennui, direct them to this list of 50 things to do when they’re bored and tell them, “I can’t wait to see what you end up doing!”
3. Have a plan
I don’t know about you, but I am always more purposeful and peaceful when I have a plan. And the beginning of summer break is the perfect time to make one.
Here are some areas to cover in your plan:
- Activities you want to do (as well as when you might do them)
- Life skills or character training you want to work on
- Preparation for sibling squabbles and meltdowns – How will you respond, and in what intentional ways will you address them?
- Strategies for refueling yourself so you don’t get burned out
- A routine that allows you to get things done while still enjoying your kids’ summer break with them
4. Create a family activities calendar
Summer always goes by SO fast. Before we know it, it’s gone, and we haven’t done half the things we intended to do! Anyone with me?? If there are things we want to do as a family, we have to be intentional by actually scheduling our plans. And a family calendar is great for that!
As a family, make a list of things you want to do this summer, from the super important to the “it would be nice if we could.” Then, schedule those activities into a big calendar, starting with the most important things first and filling in the rest. Let everyone contribute, and make sure there’s plenty of downtime and free days, too.
This is actually something we’ve never done before and plan to do this year! I’m excited to see the difference it makes in our summer!
5. Limit screen time
This one is a bit counterintuitive, I know. You might be thinking, “Are you crazy?! Screens were going to be my lifeline!”
But I’m telling you — from research and real-life experience! — that excessive screen time (more than 1 hour a day, according to the experts) actually makes everything worse. It worsens moods, it exacerbates behavior issues, and it shortens kids’ attention spans and ability to focus on other – more productive – activities.
When I suspected it was an issue for us last summer, we did a week-long TV Detox… that I ended up stretching out to several weeks because I loved the effects so much! You can read about our experience – as well as my best tips I learned – in this blog post.
If you’re still skeptical, give it a try! It’ll be hard at first, but trust me — it’ll pay off in the long run.
- Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids – and How to Break the Trance, by Nicholas Kardaras
- Screen Kids: 5 Relational Skills Every Child Needs in a Tech-Driven World, by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane
- Polly and the Screen Time Overload, by Betsy Childs Howard
- Unplugged, by Steve Antony
- Unplugged Ninja, by Mary Nhin
6. Get outside
There is something truly magical about the outdoors. Everyone’s moods improve and energy levels become tolerable again. Make it a goal to get outside for at least a couple of hours a day. (Many child development specialists recommend as much as 4-6 hours!)
Research links outdoor time with improved motor development, lower obesity rates, longer attention spans, less anxiety, and so many other great benefits. Plus (and this might be the biggest benefit for surviving and thriving during summer break) it provides an outlet for all that crazy energy and keeps mommas sane!
Related Post: 50 Backyard Activities For Family Fun All Summer Long
7. Shift your perspective on the hard parts
As I said earlier, no summer vacation is all rainbows and unicorns. There are going to be parts that are hard. Extra sibling squabbles, complaints of boredom, amplified noise and mess levels… the struggle is real for ALL families!
Rather than viewing them as frustrations, annoyances, or affronts to your comfort (and sanity!), however, see them as opportunities!
- Those sibling fights are hard… but they’re also prime opportunities to develop empathy, kindness, and conflict resolution skills.
- The bemoaning of boredom is hard… but it’s also perfect for cultivating creativity.
- The extra noise and messes are hard… but they’re also great opportunities to teach family teamwork and consideration of others.
Changing your perspective isn’t going to magically make any of these things easy. They’re still going to be hard. (Hey, that’s parenting, right?) But they will help you survive and thrive during your kids’ summer break.
8. Know what to release
Let me tell you something important that you probably don’t hear enough: your summer doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s to be full of purpose and fun. Trying to fit ourselves into another family’s mold will quickly turn us into stressed-out, miserable messes. Figuring out what expectations, activities, and “shoulds” you can let go of, then, is key to surviving and thriving during summer break.
What are the non-negotiables for your family? What things are less important, but still nice, if possible? And what things are you doing only because you feel like you should? Those last ones are the things to let go of. Maybe big vacations are not right for your current season. Maybe early bedtimes aren’t worth the fuss. Maybe a clean house isn’t a big deal to you. Or maybe weekly homemade science experiments make you want to run for the hills.
Every family’s list is going to look different – that’s the point. Only you and your family can determine what’s best for you. So, decide what you can release this summer, and let. it. go. It’ll be well-worth being able to survive and thrive during summer break.
9. Relax and have fun!
There’s a lot we want to do and accomplish over the summer… but make sure you leave plenty of space for fun and relaxation! Summer is MADE for things like slower schedules, relaxed responsibilities, extra play, and an abundance of family time. So, try to strike a balance between keeping enough structure to keep your sanity, enough purpose to make it productive, and enough flexibility to embrace what’s great about summer break.
Being intentional about relaxation and play will help you survive and thrive during summer break. Here are some helpful blog posts for creating summer fun:
- 50 Backyard Activities For Family Fun All Summer Long
- 20 Everyday Ways to Play as a Family
- 30+ Fun Finds For Kids Who Love Outdoor Adventure
- 100 Fun Family Activities for Every Season
- Tips & Tools for the Best Family Picnics
10. Keep your kids learning
This one is more about helping your kids thrive during summer break, but what’s good for our kids is good for us as their parents, right? So, my final strategy to survive and thrive during summer break is to keep your kids’ brains engaged and growing.
Did you know that on average, students lose approximately two months of reading skills and up to three months of math skills over the summer? We often refer to this as “summer learning loss” or “summer slide.” While some researchers argue there’s no actual LOSS of skills – those skills just get rusty — the fact remains that it’s a problem.
That’s why I’ve created a resource for parents called the Super Summer Learning Kit, which I’ll be releasing next week! This toolkit is PACKED with tools, strategies, and practical ideas to keep kids learning in a fun and interesting way throughout the summer. And I just know it’s going to be a tremendous help to parents.
SHARE WITH US: What are some of your best tips and tricks that help you survive (and thrive!) during summer break?? Share them in the comments below!
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