“I’m so ready for summer!”
“Thank goodness the school year is almost over!”
“Bring on summer break!”
These are things I never understood when I was a working mom. Life never really changed for us during the summer, except for figuring out summer camp schedules and finding a backup sitter when daycare was closed for a week. I still went to work, and the kids still went somewhere. “School” never really stopped for us. I set an alarm every day, packed lunches, got everyone dressed, fed and out the door, went to work, and then made my rounds for pick up at the end of the day to get everyone home, fed, bathed and in bed.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Now that I’ve had a few summers as a stay-at-home mom, I totally get it. I appreciate the break from setting the alarm, packing lunches, and juggling homework, sports and activities. During the summer we’ve got discretionary bedtimes, movie nights, sleepovers during the week, and there’s no homework (except for those darn summer packets!). And while I still have to feed my children, I don’t have to actually “pack” lunches.
Summer gives me a chance to catch my breath, reset and soak up some quality time with my kids. We all relish the slower pace of life and I absolutely love it. That is, until early August when I begin to crave the routine of the school year again…
Yes, the kids are officially on my (and each other’s) last nerve, and we all need a break from each other. But the beginning of the school year also represents a fresh start for me.
It’s a clean slate, a “do-over” and another opportunity for me to continue perfecting this SAHM gig. You see, in my professional life one of the things I did was manage projects – big, complex projects. And I was good at it. However, if I apply that “project management” model to my current job as a SAHM, I’m not really setting myself up for success.
I honestly believed that staying home would mean the house would always be clean, the laundry done, and our meals would be planned and prepared with minimal effort.
Check. Check. Check. (I know you’re laughing…I am too…)
I thought if I was home, life would run much more smoothly. Instead I am a perpetual work in progress.
New (School) Year’s Resolutions
My “New Year’s resolutions” start on the first day of school. Summer has me feeling recharged and ready to embrace the routine of the school year. I’ve even switched to an academic year planner.
I love this Simplified Planner by Emily Ley for several reasons, but perhaps my favorite feature is the planning section right at the beginning where there is a dedicated space for me to identify the areas that worked for our family last year, and those that didn’t. Instead of listing a bunch of lofty goals that I’ll likely never accomplish, I have been able to focus on improving the areas that create the most stress for our family.
Guess what didn’t work? Staying up late, hitting the “snooze button,” failing to meal plan, and spending every waking moment (and every last dollar) at the grocery store. What worked? Going to bed early, getting up an hour before the kids, packing lunches the night before, utilizing the grocery pick-up service, and cutting out time consuming sports and activities.
See a pattern? So, here’s where I’m focusing this year:
Early to Bed. Early to Rise: No screen time after 9:30pm. Lights out at 10:30pm, so that I am ready to go when that alarm sounds at 5:30 (no snooze button!) the next morning.
Meal Planning: Developing a go-to list of 20 meals, planning for the week ahead and shopping ONCE.
Laundry: Doing one load per day. It goes in when I wake at 5:30 a.m., and I switch it over when I get back from dropping the kids at school. Then my 10-year-old brings it up from the basement when he gets home from school, and I fold it after the kids are in bed.
Engaging the Kids in Lunch and Activity Prep: My kids are 10 and eight. They are perfectly capable of making their own lunches and getting their gear together for their football/basketball/baseball/soccer practice. Not only does this give them some responsibility, it frees me up from doing two of my least favorite chores!
Summer Isn’t Really a “Break”
Please don’t think I have it all figured out (I don’t!). I constantly struggle with the balancing act of motherhood while still trying to maintain a sliver of my own identity. However, I’ve realized that whether I’m working full-time or staying home, a routine allows things to run more smoothly in our home and it gives our entire family the opportunity to enjoy what matters most – our precious time together.
When you think about it, summer isn’t really a “break,” but rather a change in routine. Either way, it gives me time to reset and tackle this project called “Motherhood” with everything I’ve got.