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Erin Stewart: Making the most of summer

Published: Monday, June 30 2014 9:40 a.m. MDT

Erin Stewart shares her summer rules.

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We are finally, thankfully, in our first few days of summer on the East Coast. Thanks to a bunch of snow days, the school year extended almost to July and we are just now beginning to enjoy lazy summer days.

I was more than ready for summer to start. I’ll be honest, I was pretty much limping toward the finish line at the end of school. My daughter was late every day for the last week. I forgot to pack lunches. And I haven’t signed a homework form since May.

But now summer is here, and the start of the next school year seems forever away. Summer is an amazing time with my kids, but it can also be a little daunting to fill all those days. So here are some summer rules we stick by in our house to keep the days full and everyone smiling until September.

  1. Keep a quasi-schedule — The best part about summer is not having a set schedule, but open-ended days with nothing on the calendar can be a mother’s worst nightmare. I try to have regular, set dates for things like weekly library visits, swim outings and outdoor hikes/adventures.
  1. Summer bucket list — We always start the summer with our bucket list, which is quite literally a bunch of ideas of fun things to do written on strips of paper and put into a bucket. When boredom hits, we pull out a strip and have to do whatever is on the paper — no matter what.
  1. Brain work — Yes, I am that mother who makes her kids do schoolwork during the summer. My mother did it to me and her mother did it to her. In fact, I have memories of working on my handwriting while on a beach vacation. The nice thing is, my kids are still young enough that workbooks are exciting for them. We only do about 20 minutes a day, but it’s enough to keep their brains from turning to mush.
  1. Set goals — Summer is long enough that your kids can be working toward a long-term goal or several short-term goals. We always try to set an academic goal such as learning to write the alphabet or keeping a summer journal every day. We also set fun goals like learning to swim or riding a two-wheeler.
  1. Make time for Mom — I often get sucked into major mommy guilt if my kids are not doing some insanely fun summer activity at any moment between July and September. So I remind myself that it's OK to take time for me, whether that is putting the kids in the gym day care while I work out or just letting them play alone together while I take a breather. No mommy is meant to entertain for two straight months, and honestly, some of the best summertime memories are ones made when mom isn’t watching.
  1. Relax — Perhaps the best part of summer is the ability to de-stress and connect with my kids over fun activities. No homework deadlines. No early morning schedules. Take time to chase lightning bugs, go on long walks and spend way too long at the pool. September will be here before we know it.

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for the Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her 7-year-old and 3-year-old daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her.

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