How to Survive Summer with a Million Kids
For a lot of you, summer is code for "spend all day at the pool," and you've already filled your woven striped Target bag with sunscreen and French fry money.
But what if your crew is tiny people? What if joining a pool is code for "spend A Million Dollars to keep my kids from drowning"? Because let's be honest. When I start going to the pool on the regular, my kids shouldn't need me to keep them alive. I'm there to watch them jump off the diving board and buy them Red Vines during break. If you've hit Red Vine summer, I applaud you. Your kids are grown people, and your grocery bill is probably huge. Carry on.
But for the rest of us with kids who still can't wipe their butts and go to the pool just to sit under a beach towel (weirdos), we need a different plan to survive I mean enjoy our summer. Because no matter how many kids you have, it feels like a million, and we want them all alive come Labor Day.
We're Lazy Geniuses, so our plans should reflect that. This is not the place for elaborate scavenger hunts and days where everything we do and eat and say starts with the letter T. I'm tired just thinking about that. If you're not, by all means scavenge away. For the rest of us, let's figure this out.
We want to have fun, to be intentional. Sometimes our kids are actually pretty rad, and we want our memories of summer to reflect that.
Here's how. Decide what matters.
Rather than starting with the Pinterest gauntlet of summer activities that require a degree in early childhood education and perhaps some experience herding cattle, let's just start with some simple questions.
- How do want your family to have grown by the end of the summer?
- What are you excited to say no to? To say yes to?
- What memories do you hope for, and which are you trying to force?
- What rhythms would you like your family to embrace?
Once you answer these questions and decide what really matters this summer, you can more easily make your move. Remember that not everything can matter; that's a straight shot to crazy town. So after you have your answers, limit yourself to three things/goals/intentions and make plans from there.
Here's how that looks for my family this summer:
- I want my kids to develop a habit of daily reading.
- I want my kids to help with chores because isn't that 75% of why you have kids at all?
- I want to remember that the mess and stress on my end are worth teaching my kids to cook, i.e. we're going to cook more. Together. Heaven help me.
Even though I have other hopes, these are the keepers. Keep your list simple, limit yourself to no more than three, and you won't have a nervous breakdown.
Notice there's nothing about new adventures or experiences, community, or the outdoors. Some of those things might happen naturally, but those aren't my focus.
So how can I move forward knowing what matters? Now I know what to think about and what to say not to for now. I can look on Pinterest for reading lists or creative ways to track books without getting overwhelmed. I can come up with creative and non-annoying ways to have my kids help around the house without hating me too much. I can know that when it's time for us to make brownies that it will end in Hurricane Cocoa Powder and not freak out.
I'm actually looking forward to pursuing my three intentions; everything else can wait.
Keep your intentions simple, your expectations reasonable, your checklists to a minimum, and your chocolate within easy reach at all times. That's how you survive summer with a million kids.