By Courtney Loughney
Last week the panic set in, where did May go? Last summer I totally blew it! I spent the entire summer being super sick in the first trimester of my pregnancy. Now this summer we have an infant. I am going to be the crappiest mom ever, AGAIN!
Even though last year I was dry heaving in the summer heat, I forced myself to take day trips to places like the beach and New York City because I said I would do fun things with my kids all summer long. Turns out I was irritable, snappy with my kids on the beach and had a full blown panic attack inside of the Statue of Liberty. Now when I think about doing fun things with my kids this summer I can see the big kids fighting with one another while I try to nurse a sweaty, sandy baby on the beach. No bueno.
Sure we could lie around in our jammies all day but that’s only fun for two hours before we’re all climbing the walls. We really do better when we have a schedule or routine, but I needed to figure out how to make it flexible. Here’s my summer survival plan:
- Limit Field Trips: We’re only doing local, short activities. This means I’m not taking all my kids to the beach by myself or spending the entire day at the zoo. I am also going to do my best to leave on a good note, even if that means I have to cut my conversation short with a friend.
- Get the kids involved in housework: Spending time in the house can be quite a challenge. There’s laundry to do, dishes to clean and meals to prepare. Get the kids involved! Matching socks, sorting laundry, helping to empty the dishwasher and set the table. My kids really enjoy dusting, especially if I throw them a buck for doing it. If you have an infant, who isn’t into mopping floors, lower your expectations and beg for help.
- Slow Down the Morning: Each week we will decide what days we will stay home in the morning and relax and what days we will get to the gym so I can work out and have some alone time. This way our mornings are predictable for all of us. For Type-A, me, having a plan is easier and more relaxing than not.
- Spend Quality Time Together: Quality time only needs to be 5 minutes per day, FIVE MINUTES PEOPLE! I’m committed to those 5 minutes per kid, per day. I started to create a pile of things we can upcycle for crafts, like paper towel rolls and empty boxes. I will sit and get each child started but I am planning to walk away after 5 minutes to leave them to work independently. Spending quality time with my infant will be more in the moment. Because he is the most demanding, it’s easier to find little moments throughout the day when I can fully engage with him.
- Let go of the Mom Guilt! Every day does not have to be special. It is okay if I let the kids play in their jammies on their own all morning. It’s okay to sit down and take a break. It’s okay for the baby to lie on the playmat on his own for a few minutes. Mother does not equal entertainer. When I’m at my wits end I will call a friend and be honest about it. Chances are they’ve felt the same way and we’ll laugh about how obnoxious a 4 year old can be, especially when the baby is teething.
- Be Forgiving: To myself. It’s not how perfect the craft turned out, or where I spent the day, it’s how I showed up. Forcing myself to do “fun” things will end up with an irritable Mama. Here’s my daily mantra: Show up and try your best, and when you do not, forgive yourself. You, dear friend, are a human.