As a teacher, I longed for summer. It was such a wonderful break. Except for one thing... while my schedule was freed up, my husband's schedule was ramping up. While teachers and children are off in the summer, and it is often an ideal time for summer vacations and lots of on the go fun, in our house it's time for gearing up for some difficult, long days. My husband (a golf course superintendent) can't take off for vacations during these months (our family vacations happen in the winter), and often he won't be home for dinner. The weekends are also work days, and there is no break in the schedule (7 days a week) until the weather breaks during the fall season. It's hard on him, and it's also hard on me. I end up kind of solo parenting during these months, and it can get difficult. I know our circumstance is unique, but I also know there are lots of other moms that end up with a similar scenario. Each summer, I try and manage things a little bit better. So, in my effort to tackle these difficult months, and in the hopes that other moms out there might benefit from this as well, I've decided to put together our plan on how to get by!
1. Meal Plan Specifically with Leftovers in Mind
Dinner time is a stressful time for parents with toddlers and babies. While utilizing independent play (as noted in item 6 below) is super helpful, it is just a busy time when trying to get dinner on the table without any help. As a result, my plan is to plan plan plan, and in my plan will be easy meals and leftovers. I am literally going to map out a couple of weeks of dinners at a time (that's the hope), and plan for leftovers as much as I can. Monday-spaghetti and meatballs, Tuesday- leftovers. Wednesday- chicken pea casserole, Thursday- leftovers. You get the idea. Simple meals, and I'm only going to cook every other day if I can help it!
2. Involve Your Children
If there are things to be done, I expect my 2 year old to help. This is what happens year round at our house, but I'm actually going to be asking a bit more from her during the summer. If she is capable of doing something on her own, I'm going to need her to do it. If she is capable of helping Mama with a task around the house, she's going to be asked to do so. We all help each other and the more we can get done together the better. If she's out of the way and playing on her own that's fine, but if she's wanting my attention, it's going to have to be while working along side me. The good thing, is that folding laundry, or cooking dinner can be made into fun activities for our toddlers!
3. Stay Busy and Stay Involved
It's so easy to skip going to the parade or the zoo when you don't have your partner to help you out with the outing. The outings aren't nearly as fun without Daddy, and they are harder on me, but they are fun and it gets us out of the house. Caroline still deserves to get to enjoy these fun summertime activities. We still plan to do all of these fun events even if I have to go solo. One of the best things I've done for myself is to join a Moms Club. I can usually find someone that is interested in going to an event with me, and it gives me some contact with other adults as well!
3. Enroll Your Children in Summer School
We don't live around family and, with my husband working 7 days a week, there is no break for me. No moment to go to an appointment without my daughter, no moment to get things done. There is no one to watch her for me, so I literally have to bring her everywhere with me. There are literally just some things that I can't do with her. I can't go have a meaningful discussion with my doctor if she's with me... it just isn't going to happen easily. So, I enrolled Caroline in summer school. I need to be able to get a few things done here and there. Caroline loves going to school, so I am taking advantage of that this year and sending her to a summer school that is 2 days a week. Each day is 2.5 hrs long. It's not huge, but it's enough time for me to get done what I need to do.
4. Take Breaks
It is important that we take breaks and catch our breath. I can choose to let the cleaning wait, or I can choose to find a moment to read a book, or drink a glass of wine. It is important to not burn out.
5. Stay Positive
It's easy to get stressed. It's easy to get frustrated. My goal this year is to stay positive. It's always my goal, I just have moments of failure! LOL I'm sure I will this year as well, but I always try to get better. It's easy to focus on how the summer affects me, but the reality is that it is much harder on my husband. While I try to support him as much as possible, my frustration with the summer often comes through and I have moments where I take it out on him. In case I slip up or misstep, I made my husband a chart. I want him to have a note from me every day this summer that shows him that I support him 100%, even if I was frustrated the night before. I want him to remember that I truly support his efforts. I also plan to look at these notes as my stay positive reminder. Because the reality, is that I am so proud of my husband, and we really can get through anything.
6. Utilize Independent Play
Independent play is going to help me tremendously. I have never been consistent enough with this. In the summer, I plan on giving Caroline independent play pretty much daily. She's great at it, when I'm consistent with it, and I know we are going to need it this summer. She is always in a much better mood when she gets independent play, and it will allow me to get a few things done around the house, or make dinner!
7. Alter the schedule
To make sure that Daddy gets to see his daughter before bed (most nights), we are planning to push her bedtime out a bit. We didn't do this when she was younger because she couldn't handle the extra wake time. Now that she's older, however, we will be doing this. Not every night, and some nights she may have to go to bed early to make up for the lost time, but for the most part, we are pushing her bedtime out by 20-30 minutes. Those extra minutes will mean valuable time for Daddy and his daughter, and it's well worth it.
8. Go To Him
Whether it's for a quick lunch break, or to ride around in the cart while Daddy is still running around working, we will be there as much as we can. Sometimes we are in the way and he's too busy, so we'll stay home, but if we can tag along, we will! We want to see Daddy as much as we can, so even if he's still working and we just get to be around him, that's more enjoyable than not being there. The staff there knows us well! LOL!
I'd love to hear more about your summer "break" and why it isn't much of a break! What does your husband do? Why are you going solo this summer? Tell me all about it in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest:
Creatively Involving Your Toddler In Household Tasks
Rain Dances (A Look Into a Golf Course Superintendent's Life)
I Fall In Love More With My Husband Every Day
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