Keeping Summer Sanity

Everyone loves summer, but for moms it’s not all about carefree fun.

If you find your sanity hanging by a thread, Nicole Carpenter of shares four ways to keep it together.

I glance at the kitchen and can’t help but see every drawer and every cupboard is open. Christmas ribbon laces in and out of my kitchen chairs. I’m told it’s an obstacle course.

Behind me, slippery sleeping bags rest at the bottom of the staircase as it appears they are not currently needed to transport anyone from the top to the bottom. Science experiments are evaporating in the half bathroom, water fights are sprinkling my family room, and this morning I found a freezer full of random frozen objects.

Motherhood is challenging me this summer break, and I’ve only added one more child back into the home all day. I thought things would be easier without carpool, tumbling, soccer practice and homework.

But every day I hit a wall that slams me right to the floor. Some days it knocks the wind right out and leaves me in tears. Summer break is doing me in. I vaguely remember last summer running a little more smoothly, but that may be due in part to the 2 p.m. nap time half of my children observed. This summer finds us sans naps (and has left me sans sanity).

I think I could handle the messes alone, but they are often accompanied by fighting, tattling, teasing, poking, pushing, whining and crying. I am going crazy here, people. It’s pull-my-hair-out, eyeball-bulging, white-flag-flying crazy.

It’s not like we haven’t had fun this summer. As a family we’ve been to Disneyland, Sea World, Universal Studios, the beach, the splash pad, the reservoir and even a Major League Baseball game.

These kids are having a rockin’ good summer break. But me, not so much. Every time I open my laptop to work I get interrupted. I wake up early to work, and so do they. I try and stay up late to work and they refuse bedtime too. The toilets are dirty, the floor is dirty, and I’m behind on work projects.

Last week in a LinkedIn post, Michael Lazerow, a working father of three, compared the value of our children to a million dollars. Of course I value my children and know they are worth more than a million dollars each, but that doesn’t make the juggle any easier. I have a sign in my kitchen that reads, “Good moms have: sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens and happy kids.”

Happy kids. That’s the key. Even when my kids bicker, they are happy. And then I realize what I should have known a long time ago, this summer break is not about me, it’s about them.

So I’ve decided to change my attitude and change a few things around the house to survive the rest of this summer break (with a smile). Maybe these ideas can help you find some summertime sanity too.

1. Minimize

I’m lowering my expectations. While my standards will remain high, my expectations of what I can really accomplish will adjust.

2. Ask for help

As a mom, I really do have a patience threshold. When I feel my limit nearing, I will ask for help. I will take a break and get a baby sitter. I can reach out to my neighbors and friends — a really good conversation with a dear friend can go a long way.

3. Implement systems

Already I have reinstituted household chores and decided an afternoon pick-up session (sponsored by the children) is necessary.

I’m getting back to the basics I teach other moms and have put together a weekly schedule specific for summer. I’ve organized activities for the kids to do while I work and fun things for us to do as a family.

4. Choose my children

I will count instead of yell and breathe instead of cry. I will remain patient as they clean up their own messes. I will be firm when they want to play with a friend and their room is not clean. I will make them laugh and foster good memories. I will choose to cherish my children.

Summertime sanity is nearly here, I can feel it. Which is a good thing, because with year-round school, we only have nine more days of summer vacation. At least I’ll have a game plan for next time.

Nicole Carpenter is the founder of and creator of Define Your Time eCourse. She is a professional speaker, mentor and writer. She and her husband are raising four children, 8 years and younger, including twin toddlers.

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