Stress-Free Summer: Three Tips to Help You Keep Your Cool

For some moms, the word summer brings with it a negative tone. Suddenly you have children with no schedule and tons of energy. What do you do to keep them occupied? It’s easier than you think. Here are three tips to help you keep your cool this summer. 

1.  Have a relaxed atmosphere and attitude. 

As a homeschool family, we don’t follow a schedule during the summer but we do try to practice good habits and routines. Structure is important for young children, but having a relaxed schedule allows for more imaginative/creative play. 

Some families choose to continue their school year during the summer months and take shorter breaks throughout the year. However you choose to do it, keep in mind that if your kids are on a break then you should be as well. Relax and enjoy some down time with your kids! 

2.  Fun can be free. 

As a family of five, we’re learning that it can cost quite a bit of money to go to major attractions in our area.  Annual passes save us a lot of money, but we find that it’s the low cost or no cost activities that bring the most fun and family interaction. 

My kids and I sat down today and wrote down our summer bucket list. They gave me suggestions for activities that we could do as a family on the days when the heat is getting to us. Here’s our bucket list: 

You don’t have to have a poster board and dry-erase markers to make your list. A piece of scrap paper and pencil will work just fine! Brainstorm with your kids and get your ideas on paper. Writing things down is a commitment to making them happen!

Visit your local chamber of commerce website or Facebook page to find free activities in your area. Our local library has a wonderful summer story time each week along with a summer reading program with prizes for the kids. Fun can be free if you’re willing to do a little research!

3.  Live your memories, don’t just document them. 

Documenting your children’s summer through photos or videos is important, but should not become your sole focus as a Mom. Yes, you can capture a moment in time that will last forever, but what if you also captured moments by being present and fully engaged with your children?

Instagram is by far my favorite social media outlet. You can scroll for hours through beautiful photos of your friends and the memories they’ve made. Don’t let the only memories you make this summer be made through a camera lens. Put the phone, camera, or video camera down and play with your kids. Take some snapshots along the way for the scrapbook (and make sure you’re in the photos, too) then have some fun. The smiles on their faces will be worth it!  

Have a great summer!!

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Becoming a Hands-Free Mama

Have you ever experienced a moment where you knew change was necessary, dare I even say mandatory, for your life to be lived to the fullest?  That moment was when my children began to follow me with my phone anytime it wasn’t in my hand.  “Here Mama, you forgot your phone” became a constant song in my home.  My precious little ones were telling me something very important – that I valued my phone over anything else, and that it was becoming a permanent attachment. That’s when the lump began to creep up in my throat and I realized that I had to make a major change.

Fast forward one year from that moment (yes, one entire year) and my phone’s presence is still too prominent in my life.  Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, Email, text messages….they all bombard me with their bells and whistles.  They beckon me to pay attention to the tiny computer in my hands rather than the tiny people at my feet.

I purchased the book, Hands Free Mamain June 2015.  It sat on my book shelf, barely opened, until my friend Kelly suggested a book club.  We were asked to commit ourselves to working for one year to become less distracted by the world, and more focused on our families.  We are ending the first month and it has shaken me to the core.

As a stay at home mom, my phone is my lifeline to the outside world.  I search the internet when I am lonely and want to feel connected to someone who might understand how I feel.  I always think it will make me feel better about my own life to take a quick glance (which turns into an hour) at someone else’s life.  I’m quickly learning that I don’t walk away feeling better.  Comparison rears its ugly head and steals my joy.  I’m snippy with my children, I wear my emotions on my sleeve with my husband and friends, I set expectations for myself and others that are unachievable.  My phone, as well my addiction to the perfectionism that the internet portrays, have taken over my every day life.  It’s time for that commitment for drastic change in my life to stick.  I’m breaking up with my phone.

The journey hasn’t been easy so far, but it will be more than worth it.  My family deserves the best Jennifer that I can be…and so do I.