Taking Back Your Time – Moms, Reclaim Your Summer!
Knowing what it is you need to accomplish on a daily, weekly and seasonal basis will make life that much more manageable. Assemble a to-do list for the summer that includes the basics, like cleaning, errands, household projects, school related projects (many teachers assigned summer reading and development activities) and any pre-arranged activities like camp/vacation. Determine what must be done by mom and what can be delegated to others. Isn’t delegation a phenomenal word? This way, mom becomes the Captain of the ship and can direct her deckhands.
Is it fair? Absolutely! In order for fun to be had by everyone, everyone must contribute to eliminating the workload. How can mom drive to the zoo, gather everyone for a hike, or simply splash around with the hose if she’s buried under laundry, mowing, or vacuuming the house? Use the following tips to delegate, barter, cajole, and plan your way to a less stressful summer:
Completing the Chores
Hire Others: Who says outdoor chores have to be completed by you or a family member? Take advantage of enterprising children, a neighbor with a riding mower, or a fantastic lawn service company for outdoor lawn/maintenance. Depending on the size of your yard, lawn care could be a full-time job. If you know of a reliable teenager looking for summer funds – make him/her an offer, but discuss it and put it in writing so you’re both clear about what is expected. The writing won’t be a “contract” per se, as a minor cannot enter into a legally binding contract, but it should help the summer run smoother with some written direction.
Children underfoot all day have a habit of generating more to pick after. Unfortunately, that’s in addition to the regular laundry, household chores, and meals. A housekeeper may be just the ticket for helping you stay on top of the summer interior chaos. Hiring someone to come in once a week to take care of the larger chores, while you take care of the everyday ones, or perhaps a couple of times a week to alleviate the pressure of staying on top of everything could score you some precious your time each week.
Enlist the Aid of the Kids: If hiring help is out of the question, mom of four, Anna M. of Omaha suggests delegating housework to the children, “so more gets done in less time.” Children as young as two years old can help sort the laundry and pick up strewn toys, so get the kids involved. Make it fun by setting a timer, or turning on some music and see how much can get done before the timer goes off, or the music stops. For young ones, pictures of what goes where is an excellent tool to help them learn what goes where and how it should look when completed. Thank goodness for digital cameras and pictures off of the boxes the toys come in.
Corralling the Children
Pawn them Off, er, Trade with Another Family: Swap kids with a mom you trust, with a similar parenting style and children yours get along with. While it might be a tall-order to find a mom who fits this criteria, in the long run it could save you lots of problems and provide both moms with enough free time to get tons accomplished this summer. Arrange to swap kids (each way) once or twice a week and you’ll both have several hours of free time each week. If you do it twice a week, use one day for cleaning/errands and the other to pamper yourself!
Offer to Trade Time: Moms should enlist dads in their plans to get time for themselves. Split the weekend in half with dad. In order to make the most of the weekend, divide it into thirds – one third for family time, one-third for mom and the last third for dad. Friday night is a perfect time for family night – the drive in, DVD’s, lasertron, fishing, etc. Then each parent can stake their claim for either Saturday or Sunday without the children for fun on their own. On their day, split the time between a fun activity and getting household tasks/errands accomplished with the kids.
Put Older Children to Work: Have the older kids help with the younger ones for the summer. While fun is well, fun, children will inevitably suffer from boredom. Make this a less common happenstance by assigning older children the responsibility of keeping younger children occupied for at least part of each day. Want to make it more challenging and get a little more bang for your buck, so to speak? They have to do it outside – if you have a fenced in yard or other secure area, it can’t be using technology – no video games, etc., and should be educational or require physical exertion. If you make this a late morning activity, the older child could also supervise lunch and further help out by putting his/her sibling down for an afternoon nap.
Summer for most children means sleeping in late and staying up late, but Linda S., of Michigan has combated this problem. “I am making the kids get up every work day morning at 9 a.m. They have until 10 a.m. to get dressed and eat breakfast, and starting at 10, they have to do some chores.” This helps reduce her workload, gives them the weekend to sleep late and tires them out so they’re not up too late at night disrupting the part of the household that needs to get up and go to work in the morning.
Maintaining Your Sanity
Be Efficient: With gas prices again on the rise, it just makes sense to make the most of each of your ventures in the family vehicle. This said, take some time to arrange your weekly errands into an order that makes them most efficient. Instead of a daily trek to the supermarket, gas station, drug store, etc., for the summer begin shopping at a location that has all three in close vicinity where you can park and walk, or a “super” store that has them all under one roof, except the gas of course.
Let it Go: This used to be my own personal mantra when I was a new mom. In fact, I think I should use it more often now. All things considered, why not cut yourself a break for the summer and let go of perfection? As busy moms we typically want to stay on top of everything, but the task can be downright draining. Why not make a pact with a few friends to truly enjoy the summer. Make due with “clean enough” instead of “spic and span”, and relax for the rest of the summer.
Quiet Time: While the children may think it’s the thing to be avoided at all costs, quiet time should become an essential part of each day. Moms need a little time each day to recharge their batteries. Delegate this time for nap-time, enforce an hour of quiet reading or quiet play, or let the kids go outside and run off some steam. Mom of four, Tricia B. of Illinois agrees. “I need that hour of peace and quiet where I can sit down and relax too.”
Local Activities: If it gets to be too much, look for local camps, VBS (vacation bible school) programs, or local theatre/dance camps. This will provide children with a creative outlet (away from home) and moms with several hours of quiet to regain calm and complete tasks without an entourage.
Moms, using these tips you really can reclaim your summer. Even if you don’t have much help available, remember to use whatever quiet time you can find, and plan your days for maximum efficiency to produce your most effective summer yet.
Kim Green-Spangler, B.S. Ed and M.S. Eng., is a freelance writer, coach, wife and mother. She specializes in topics pertaining to family life, fitness, parenting, and home-based businesses. Visit her blog Pajamas, Pacis & Projects – OH MY! at www.bthekey.com/blog for more parenting/work from home tips.