I’m bored. I’m hungry. What are we doing today?
I hate hearing those word, typing those words, and subjecting you to them. Wholehearted apology to you and to myself. And now that we are friends again, let me share what’s working for me over here for an 11-, 10-, and 5-year-old and me, a pregnant mama. Disclaimer: It’s not rainbows and butterflies in the magic land of brotherly love and kindness 24/7, but these hacks have already dramatically improved our summer experience. Well, these hacks and maybe the fact that my kids are falling into line faster these days since they’ve already encountered the wrath of a pregnancy hormone rages…whatevs. I’m thinking these are golden tips for our family. They might be of help to you or not, but with a week or two into summer, most mamas are ready for help. Before you try to make these your own, remember that God made you mama of your kids because you know them best. Use some, tweak others, or totally disregard and create your own summer for the angels that have been entrusted to you. For me, in this season of life, I have 3 mantras and 3 tactical strategies I have been employing that are totally rocking my world. I pray they can help you in some way find an intentional, peaceful, and fun summer with your family.
~~~MY THREE GO-TO MANTRAS FOR SUMMER 2019~~~
I found that when I started saying these three mantras consistently enough, they soon stopped approaching me with those exasperating comments above, at least waaaaaaaaaaaaay less frequently.
#1 “WE OVER ME”
We are a family. We all have different needs, schedules, interests, and wants for our summer days, but our kids sometimes think they are still the center of the universe. So, when a kid feels put out that someone or something else is coming before them at the exact moment they want to go to the pool, go outside, invite a friend over, etc. I just remind them, “WE OVER ME.” At first, I had to elaborate more. “We over me. We function as a family. There are a lot of needs that have to be taken care of today, like … (insert anything you want to. Heck, if it means you need to take a break and have coffee on the back porch alone for 20 minutes, that is a very serious need to the functioning of the family if that means your sanity. Most of the time, however, you and I know it’s going to be something that honors a priority you have, another kid’s schedule, or something that has to be done in order to stay afloat as a household—i.e. wash underwear) … Then repeat “we over me.” Before you know it, “we over me” is all you need to have them end the discussion or whining.
#2 “IT’S NOT MY JOB TO ENTERTAIN YOU.”
I’m starting to sound like a disengaged, deadbeat mom. . . and I might be, but that’s relative to what you have conjured up in your head as what a great parent is. I promise this one might actually serve your kids well (but, let’s be honest—what works for my kids, might not work for yours. And this might send your kids into a deeper fit. Again, I’m thinking that with 2-3 weeks into summer, and you’ve made it this far into the post, you are dying for any advice you can get that you may be able to use, am I right?) Ok, great. Back to business. So I really, really wanted to print some of the cool things I found on Pinterest for summer fun, but I’ve tried that before, and it just doesn’t work for my kids. And honestly, I dropped the ball. I just ran out of umf, motivation, time, and desire. Depleted. I made a morning routine chart (that’s below if you stick with me) and then, I stopped being creative (slipped into focusing on renovating a house before baby comes) and just supplemented with my beautifully sweet mantras. And do you know what happened? They started coming up with their own go-to activities when I said this to them. It was glorious!! There is a saying that I think makes this so powerfully successful, “They will support that which they help create.” My list was never going to work because it didn’t come from their own place of inspiration/suggestion. God gave me strong-willed kids (out of the blue…can you believe that?!?—their parents are so easy going and take suggestions well) …. So, the mantra “It’s not my job to entertain you” got interpreted in the best ways possible: I’m not going to be your dog and pony show right now, nor will I give you any suggestions on what will meet your needs right now, and if you want to be entertained right now, it’s all on you to create your happiness. How stinking empowering is that for them? They have been creating their own happiness! Your kids may need and thrive on a list. Go for it, mama. Pinterest awaits!
#3 “TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT”
Ok, this one is if you have more than one kid and a fight breaks out. The quarreling parties come forth, going back and forth about he did this, yeah but then she did that. Yeah because he did this. Back and forth. Back and forth. I’m done. Not even entertaining the mess. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” I’m not even looking for the fairness or who started it. Both parties are in “time out,” sent to room, have something taken away, or whatever. It stops them from coming at me after awhile, and they realize they are both going to get punished so there is no pointing in trying to win the argument. Not hearing it. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” This past year, my brilliant husband came up with a saying for our stubborn fighters, “How you respond is important.” I just repackaged it for the summer to “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Bam. That’s some good looking co-parenting for ya. Maybe this is a no brainer for you, but I know I’ve spent too many years trying to play Judge Judy to no great end and certainly not to her pay scale.
~~~THREE TACTICAL STRATEGIES~~~
#1 I HAVE A STRONG MORING ROUTINE
I’m not going to spend a ton of time explaining details of this routine because I want to devote an entire blog or vlog to the power of framing your day—the intentionality of starting and ending your day for maximum impact and productivity. I have combined ideas from my favorite entrepreneurs, Christian authors, and motivational speakers to create a journal sequence and morning routine—I pray, plan, prep, do a load of laundry, and workout all before 8:30 on most days, unless baby bump needs to sleep in a bit. It’s a protected time space that I have given myself. My kids know that unless they are puking, bleeding profusely or dying, I’m unavailable to them until I’m finished with my morning routine. My day flows SO MUCH BETTER when I’m off to a great start physically, mentally, and spiritually. And I have planned the day for kids and priorities so that I can be proactive rather than reactive, present rather than distracted. This ties to the next two strategies.
#2 UPFRONT TIME BOUNDARIES
Since I map out my day in the morning, I can, for the most part, predict my day and navigate around fun for the kids. I totally love being home with my kids and spending quality time with them, but that means protecting boundaries for my needs and what my priorities are as well. If I can be upfront with time frames, they know when I’m unavailable and what kinds of activities to do to keep themselves entertained for that amount of time. I might say, “Mommy has her own responsibilities until noon, then we can go outside and play or go swimming.” When they know what to expect, they aren’t anxiously waiting for entertainment. They find things themselves until we are ready for fun together because they know what I’m going to say if they come back to me during the time boundary. “WE OVER ME.” Depending on what I need to accomplish, there is some flexibility here. I might have to pause to make lunch or engage with them for a few minutes before starting back on my things. But having those boundaries and mantras in place help protect the time.
#3 TEACHING HEALTHY HABITS TO MY KIDS
Ahhhh, this one has been so fun to see unfold, even in the short two weeks being home. Based on what I’ve learned about morning routines for myself, I helped create one for my kids (the 10 and 11 year olds) that includes prayer journaling, chores, and hygiene (hello, it’s summer, but we still need deodorant and toothpaste). The 5 year old does a little bit of “monkey see, monkey do” and doesn’t even care that he doesn’t get money for his “chores.” He just likes being a part of the family routine. I have a time frame it has to be completed by so that they wake up and get their day started. They start off mentally, physically, and spiritually ready to go! I swear the prayer journaling alone has made a difference in their demeanor to start the day. And bonus for me for this routine time: they know they can’t move on to fun until it’s done. This takes up some time and gives me that boundary of time I need to get things done, too! It totally helps to acknowledge your kids’ unique biorhythms, too. My son wakes up pretty close to my early rise time, while my daughter sleeps until 9:30 or 10. It’s ok by me. I’m not a total dictator.
Their chores, when completed properly, also earns them money and privileges. This is a little motivation, too, of course. We get to talk about good money habits, saving, and making choices. They are already thinking about things they want to work for and the future because we have a money matching system in place for the savings they accumulate each year. We are a Dave Ramsey household and believe it’s never to early to talk about the principles of give, save, spend! If you haven’t checked out Dave Ramsey and you feel like your family could use an infusion of healthy money habits, he has great courses and books for everyone, including Financial Peace Jr kit.
And the last healthy habit is learning about food! I love talking about nutrition with my kids because I want them to have a healthy relationship and a great understanding of it (something I’ve struggled with for years trying to figure out). From a kid perspective, they intuitively know to eat when hungry and to feel full, but on their own, they have no idea how to feel full for a long period of time. They just eat the quick, easy, and “crack response” carb from the pantry. I was getting so frustrated with the frequent grabbing for fast burning, non-sustaining snacks and lot’s of “I’m still hungry” or “I’m hungry again,” especially when we would just get into the pool or get in the car to go somewhere. So, I started teaching them of better combinations of foods and to eat before, especially before we start a long activity. The book that taught me these concepts and changed the way I think about food is Body Love by Kelly LeVeque. I have been able to water down the concepts and teach them to my kid. In a nutshell, the “Fab 4” eating method means you try to find a good protein, good fat, healthy carb, and fiber to incorporate with every meal and snack so that you can stabilize your blood sugar (in turn affecting hunger responses) for a longer period of time. This has opened the door to their curiosity of which foods have what effect on their bodies and has shown them how to make better choices so that we can swim for 2 hours without having to pause for tummy grumbles. I highly recommend this book for mamas. The trickle down effect of what it will give your family is priceless.
SUMMER SANITY AND INTENTION
I’m not sure if these strategies sounds overwhelming or not to you because I don’t know how you’re summer is going, but really, these are these are things we were going to be doing anyways, now it just flows with less resistance and fighting. With a little bit of intention and consistency, these mantras and strategies have created automatic habits, which I hope will carry over to the school year and be their default throughout life. And the culture of our family is so much more enjoyable. … of course, this all started with my short term goal to keep my vocal cords in tact so that I didn’t sound like a roaring Shrek every day. Regardless of your motivation for something to help your summer, I hope you picked up a tip or two that will help you develop a great summer for you that you don’t feel like you’re swimming upstream against. Pick your own intentional strategy that you can sneak in to help foster what you want as part of your core values for your family. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 . . . What legacy can you start building now? It’s a privilege to have kids and a huge responsibility, but it can be so fun and rewarding, with all the mistakes and meltdowns, too.
And, mama, I just want to wish you a happy summer and tell you that you are doing way better than you give yourself credit. Stop being so hard on yourself. Have a meltdown if you need to. Reward yourself with a margarita or mimosa to relax. Have one for me until I can join you with one next summer (post baby) and enjoy those little angels you created. You’ll be sending them off as adults before you know it. Soak it all in.
When all else fails, remember,
“You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow they’ll be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift. Breathe and notice. Smell and touch them. Study their faces. Pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today. It will be over before you know it.” Author Unknown