It’s a tough time of year; the kids are super-excited for a break from homework and have fun camps to look forward to every week, and as parents we’re wondering how the hell we will survive without the hot-lunch fallback option for 3 months.
To make matters worse, we have to survive the next 73 days (but whose counting) with the most inconvenient drop off and pick up times conceived breaking up our normal routines, try to remain employed and somehow attempt to enjoy summer in the process. How on God’s green earth do we make all this work?
I scoured my resources and came up with what I believe to be a pretty comprehensive list of survival tips. Please share your thoughts on your plans or what’s worked for you too!
1. Work from home from time-to-time
Set up playdates with your children’s friends when you are working from home, and return the favor to others. When your kids are at home and you have a deadline, set them up with a project and use a timer to bargain for uninterrupted working time. If they give you an hour, you give them 50 water balloons and let them have a free-for-all outside. If they give you two hours, promise to take them to the park to play.
2. Part/time Nanny
Consider hiring a part-time sitter/nanny to give yourself a break. One with a drivers license can be a life-saver if camp gets out at 3pm and work requires you put in a real workday. High school students are generally reasonably priced and have the energy to keep things fun for the kids. Try care.com if you need access to a sitter network; this option also has background and driving checks that can be purchased for additional fees.
3. Pay attention to camp details
You want camp to be fun for your child, and preparation is critical. Make sure your kids know the schedule – who is picking them up and when, where the lunch & snack are located in their backpack, where the bathroom is at camp, etc. Similarly, pay attention to sunscreen. Getting a sunburn on day 1 will make for a painful days 2-5 and start the week off on the wrong foot.
4. Figure out your new commute
For yourself, map out traffic patterns so you are aware of when you need to leave work to pick up the kids on time. Waze is awesome for this, and will send you a reminder 15 minutes before you need to leave to arrive on time based on the day’s traffic patterns.
5. Pick the right outfit
The right clothes can make or break the experience – be certain your child is dressed appropriately for weather and activities. Summer camp often involves water, mud, sand, watermelon and/or pie eating contests and more, hence, expect messiness. One of the best tips for parents is to visit your local second hand store and buy 6 or 8 outfits that are “camp only” clothes. This relieves everyone from worrying about stained-beyond-salvage situations, and no one feels bad about tossing them at the end of summer. Alternatively, you can be lazy like me and utilize our friends at Amazon:
6. Grandparent Camp
If you are lucky enough to have grandparents who are willing and able to spend time with the kiddos, take advantage of it. Kids benefit from multi-generation influence, and you gain back some sanity knowing your kids are in good hands.
7. Juggling Vacations
If you are part of a two parent family, consider taking separate vacations so each parent can cover kiddo duty while off work. You have the opportunity to bond with your kids in a new way, and save $ compared to an expensive camp option.
8. Tap into your community network
Hopefully you’ve scheduled some camps with your children’s friends – if so, take turns with drop off and pick up to allow other working parents to stay late one night while you take another night that same week.
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9. Make lunch in bulk
I often make lunches for 2-3 days in one setting to save time and energy. Some easy, yet palatable and fun ideas:
For the “I only have time to make lunch once” family: 1 week of lunches in 1 hour
For the kid who only eats snacks: Lunches for the snacker
For the “I don’t want my food to touch each other” kiddo*: Mason jar recipes
This lunchbox set is perfect if you want to avoid the glass mason jars:
*Use the same concept to segregate hummus/veggies, nut butter/apples, ranch/carrot sticks, crackers/ meat/cheese slices, etc.
What did I miss that saves your sanity in the summer? Please share your tips!