Summer is fun, sun, beach trips, hanging poolside with a cold drink and a good book. It’s also not wanting to cook in a hot kitchen or really spend any time at the stove or with the oven on, kids eating endless snacks, complaining about siblings being in their space and breathing their air, fighting over who gets to pick the TV show, etc.
Here are a few quick tips to surviving summer this year.
Let’s start with the hot kitchen:
- Use the grill. I know, this one is obvious, but my suggestion here is to get creative! Example: have you ever grilled pizza? It’s amazing, delicious, and really quite easy! Just make sure the grill has a good layer of oil on it to avoid sticking, and don’t roll the dough too thin or it will be tough to flip. This is the closest you’re going to get to brick oven pizza without being in NYC or (better yet) Italy, so give a try! My favorite is Neapolitan style dough. Cook on one side, then flip, add toppings, close lid, cook for another 4-5 minutes and voila! Pizza on the grill.
- Plan ahead. I’m not talking full on meal plans here, I’m talking about having quick and easy staples on hand and ready to throw together…like hot dogs or hamburger patties, chicken sausages, a big batch of beans that can be added to quesadillas or dips. When cooking dinner, make extra that can be used as cold lunches on the go the next day. If you’re grilling drumsticks for example, double up and eat them at the pool for lunch the next day! (This is something I do OFTEN.)
- Make “dip” style meals. Things like chicken salad, Texas Caviar, Greek chicken “salad”, (basically just cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, chopped up chicken, a little olive oil and Greek seasoning), beans and sausage, etc.
- Use the Instapot!! This thing needs to be your new best friend.
Y’all, motherhood is tough. Summer is tough. But it’s also fun, it’s a chance to reconnect as a family and have memorable moments together. Not every minute is going to be sunshine filled happiness. But I’m determined that each summer will have nuggets of awesomeness and that I will take time to love and cherish these kids of mine. What are your summer plans and how do you make the most of these weeks each year?
Okay, now let’s chat for just a minute about those complaining children. I use 2 systems and I think both have their merits and even changing between the two (or using both simultaneously) can be helpful.
System one: GEMS!! Not the legit, expensive ones, this is what my kids call the pretty, smooth little rocks you can find at the dollar store. Each child has their own small jar, and when they do something good (usually without being told to), they get a gem in their jar! They love it. And I love that this system focuses on the good behaviors. We never, ever take gems away. They are only for rewarding the positive. Once the jar is filled, they get to pick a prize from the prize bag! Things that earn gems include:
- Doing a chore without complaining or having to be reminded to get back to it
- Reading a chapter in a book (or as she has progressed in her abilities or depending on the level of the book, when she finishes a book, she gets 3 or 4 gems…you get the idea)
- Spontaneously doing something nice for another family member, like making her sister’s bed, or folding laundry for mom (this is my personal favorite )
System two: Strikes. This is one we have somewhat recently started, and the basic idea is this: every morning, each child gets 5 strikes (lines on a white board). When they complain or speak disrespectfully to me, they erase a strike. Once the strikes are gone, they lose THE privilege (you know, the thing they look forward to most in the afternoons…video games, tv time, popsicle, it can be big or small, but I suggest having them be part of the decision making process if they’re old enough). This system isn’t meant to focus on the negative, but more to help them realize and recognize when they start to head into the negative talk…generally this system only happens for a couple of weeks and then it kind of falls to the sidelines because the complaining has decreased and it’s just not as necessary anymore.
A FEW IMPORTANT PERSONAL REMINDERS FOR SURVIVING SUMMER…
- We’re not on a schedule (can I get a “Hallelujah” for no more packing lunches?!)
- I still need alone time (daily if possible)
- My kids can be bored and find things to do without my involvement
- In order to manage my anxiety, we need to have “anchor moments” each day. These can be anything from eating dinner as a family, reading time for the kids while I watch Netflix for 30 minutes, nap time, playdate time, etc. These aren’t necessary for everyone, but I’ve noticed they really help me when my anxiety is on the rise. Something I can count on happening every day.