Summer vacation with the kids feels like a lot this year, for a few reasons. One, I’m now working outside the home, so child care is a concern. Two, my kids have a wide age range, so it’s challenging to meet everyone’s needs. Three, I’m only one little person, with limitations of time, money and energy, but I’m caring for five kids (of seven) as a divorced woman.
Since reading Kendra Adachi’s (affiliate link) The Lazy Genius™ (truly, one of the most life-changing reads of my life), I find the principles popping into my mind regularly, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m so grateful for this framework! It helps me make decisions with more ease. If you haven’t read this book yet, run, don’t walk, and get yourself a copy.
Summer Vacation with Kids (Like a Lazy Genius)
One of the most important L.G. principles is to Name What Matters. Once you know what, you can focus on what’s most important to YOU, in THIS season. Obviously, I want my kids to enjoy rest and recreation during their vacation from school. Summer is for fun! But there are some other things that are important to me, namely:
- Keeping kids from too much screen time
- Preventing the “summer slide” in math
- Teaching my 12 year old some essential life skills
#1: Keeping kids from too much screen time
Screens are ubiquitous, and easy to default to. For me personally, I find that having a good book handy is the best way to keep myself from too much screen time. See: mom’s cell phone addiction.
Hence, a once-weekly visit to the library is on the schedule so I can keep the kids in fresh reading material.
In addition, there are a ton of fun, free classes for kids. We’re signing up (pun intended) for a couple of American Sign Language classes.
I also bought a pass to our community pool. It’s a hefty investment, but it helps eliminate decision fatigue because it’s our go-to all summer long. One of my favorite Lazy Genius principles is “Decide Once”. The pool is a “decide once” activity.
I created a list of jobs the young kids can do for cash.
Instead of them coming to me asking, “Mom, what can I do for $5?“, they are doing chores for .25 and .50 without asking me, then telling me how much I owe them. This is GOLD. Few things exhaust my brain more than answering this question on demand!
Note: for the curious, my kids do chores not tied to payment, simply because they live here. These are extra tasks, and I’m happy to throw quarters in their direction for completion of these.
I allow virtually unlimited screen time when the big girls are babysitting.
Not ideal, but it keeps the two neurodivergent kiddos from fighting and stressing out my Bigs. I say “virtually” because when I leave for work, I leave behind a list of things for the Littles to do. Thankfully, they’re rarely home with big sis sitters for more than 3-4 hours at a time.
I require the kids to do a bit of math every day.
I have tons of workbooks left over from homeschooling, and their teachers also provided some at the end of the school year. Which leads me to:
#2: Preventing the “summer slide” in math
Due to the intense stress I’d been under the last couple of years, and the fact that I was my kids’ homeschool math teacher, they needed a bit of extra help in math when they started public school last fall. (They thrived in other subject areas, thankfully!) All of them ended the school year with A’s and B’s in math, and I don’t want them to backslide.
I signed up the 12 year old for tutoring at Mathnasium (not an affiliate link, but they do have a referral program, so if you decide to sign up, please tell them Carrie Huggins sent you!). She goes three times a week and pretends to hate it. ? Her math skills aren’t bad, but she lacks confidence and tends to choke at test time. I’m hoping this helps her feel stronger when she goes back to school.
#3: Teaching my 12 year old some essential life skills
(A really old picture of the 12 year old. She had the essential life skill of picking flowers, at least!)
I feel into a trap common to moms of many: getting a bit lazy when it comes to teaching the younger ones the stuff you had the energy to teach older ones. At 12, my eldest could cook a meal, but my current 12 year old has a touch of weaponized incompetence. This is entirely my fault, and I’m determined to fix it this summer.
Last week, I showed her step-by-step how to clean the bathroom. Next up, teaching her (and the 10-year-old) how to make a few simple meals.
How do you do summer vacation with kids? Does it feel overwhelming or do you give it a loose structure, Lazy Genius style? I’d love to hear about it in comments.