What Do I Do With My Kids This Summer? Dealing With Summer OverwhelmJun 30, 2022
Are you a parent that looks forward to summer and your kids being out of school, or does the lack of routine or change in schedule fill you with overwhelm or even dread? In full transparency, I was one of the latter. The end of the school year was always bittersweet. Yes, it was nice to have a break from the early morning routine of getting the kids ready, lunches made, and making it to the bus on time — but there was so much work and coordination that came with the kids being out of school.
As a full-time working Mom, I always stressed about what to do with my kids in the summer. I spent their early years juggling camp, sitter schedules, and play dates. Then in the in-between years - when they were too old for camp but not old enough to work - they either needed rides to meet up with friends or I was constantly monitoring to limit electronics. Looking back, it’s no wonder that I made them get jobs and start working as soon as possible just for my own peace of mind!
At the time, I thought it was just me. I felt so alone, often thinking that I was one of the few moms that didn’t love summer. I didn’t spend much time with other working moms as we were all working or raising kids, and social media didn’t exist yet so it wasn’t as easy to share our experiences. I already felt guilty that I worked, and thought I should be looking forward to summer and spending more time with my kids.
Working and talking to so many more parents now, I find that my experience is not uncommon and summer is overwhelming for many parents. As I’m coaching parents, I find myself wishing that I knew then what I know now.
What I wish I knew then about managing my kid’s summer schedule:
I would start by looking at my thoughts about the kids being off for the summer.
Here is what I used to think:
I don’t know what I’m going to do with the kids.
I don’t know how I’m going to juggle it all.
This is a lot to manage.
I hate not having a routine.
I can’t handle this.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
I now know that those thoughts were keeping me stuck! When you tell yourself “I don’t know” your brain shuts down and stops working. You can’t come up with any solutions because you have already told yourself that you don’t know.
I wrote about the power of "I don't know" in a previous article, as it’s helpful to notice when your kids are saying “I don’t know” and what you can do as a parent to help them get unstuck and come up with ideas.
The same goes for you. Notice when you are saying “I don’t know” in front of anything. When your brain offers you a thought that starts with I don’t know, get in the habit of shutting it down. You do that by asking a question. Our brains will answer any questions that we ask.
Knowing what I know now, I would take that list and turn it into:
What is just one idea of something I can do with the kids?
Can I think of any other ideas?
How can I best juggle schedules this summer?
How can I make it easier to manage?
How could having a different routine be even better?
How can I best handle this?
As I write this, my brain is actually working on starting to come up with answers. This shifts me out of overwhelm, to a place where I feel confident and capable of effectively navigating and managing the change in schedule for the summer.
Why is this important? When you parent from overwhelm, you tend to be more reactive, you’re not as nice or patient, and you’re not present or able to actually enjoy those summer moments with your kids. You can also check out this article for additional tools on managing overwhelm.
So consider going back through that list of questions and working through some of them yourself. See if you can come up with ideas that help you shift out of overwhelm to feeling more capable so you can positively and effectively navigate this summer and be more present to the times that you do have with your kids.
If you find that you’re still stuck, please reach out. Don’t lose another summer to overwhelm. Line up a call to see how coaching can help you quickly work through it and get you unstuck so you can enjoy the summer.
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