How to Maintain Your Zen During Summer Chaos

School's out for summer (hopefully you sang that)! Okay, maybe not quite yet, but soon. The kids are home. What do we do now?! When I had a more traditional nine to five job, the summer schedule was pretty much the same as the rest of the year, just with extra childcare. Now that I work from home and have a less traditional schedule, it calls for a little more creativity. We have things planned. This summer will end with a road trip to drop the oldest “kiddo” at the University of Nebraska. Before then, we will take our traditional summer road trip, and the youngest two will do a couple weeks of camp. There will also be swimming lessons, continued tutoring, family in town, but to fill the gaps, it's "Camp Mom."

I always find myself both dreading and excited for summer break. Since my kids are older, they are fairly independent, so I'm able to take them to the park without hovering and enjoy sitting on the beach without worrying about how much sand they are eating. The dread comes from knowing I have to plan activities, and revise our usual schedule for the short amount of time everyone is home for the summer, all while balancing my work schedule and making sure I am able to get everything done and fulfill my commitments. The excitement comes from knowing I get to plan activities and we get to have a more flexible schedule for the summer. I decided I needed to make a plan to keep us on track and trick the kids into thinking having a schedule is a fun summer activity! 

Here's what I came up with:

Make a summer "bucket list." I have been adding things to a list in my phone whenever I hear/read about something that sounds like it would be fun for the summer. (Thanks to Queen of the Land of Twigs and Berries for this brilliant idea!) I'm going to have the kids each pick a couple things they want to do and we'll create a list we can check off over the summer.

Responsibility charts. The kids all have jobs they do around the house during the school year, but during the summer, when they are home more, we add to them.

Daily schedules. Each night, before bed, we're going to sit down and plan out the next day. My youngest is currently working on elapsed time and paying attention to the clock, so this exercise will also help him master that skill. All of the kids like to know what "the plan" is, so this way they can help map out the day, know what's coming up and be ready for it. These daily schedules will also include time for keeping their little brains sharp. Sorry kids, no slacking during the summer!

Plan out the week with my husband. To lessen the crazy during the week, I plan to keep my husband in the loop and ask for help when I need it. I'm really bad at this and trying to be better. I already know there are several days when two or more of us need to be in multiple places at the same time, and that is going to require coordination!

All of these ideas can be adapted for younger kids as well. Kids crave structure from a young age and like to participate in the planning process. Find what works for your family and keep it as simple or as structured as you like.

I really do love the summer and the extra time I get to spend with my kiddos. They are all growing up so fast, so I very much want to cherish this time and cram as much fun into the summer as possible. Just want to make sure I don't lose my mind while doing it!


Powering Down: The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep

Is your child getting enough sleep?  We are phasing out of the days where kids run around all day and play outside until the street lights come on.  In today’s world, a lot of kids are entertaining themselves in a new way and it may be affecting their sleep.  About 75% of elementary and middle school children have access to some type of electronic device in their bedroom.  The extra stimulation, light and sound can make it harder for children to relax and get enough sleep.

The solution?

Try to limit screen time at night and at least 1 hour before bedtime.  Instead, try unplugged activities like reading, games, exercise or quiet time.  Keep in mind, adults should lead by example in this department and use the time as quality time with family.

Lack of sleep can lead to decreased concentration in school, a weakened immune system, increased risk for obesity and moodiness.  Kids ages 5 to 12 should be getting at least 10 to 11 hours of sleep.  So, let’s power down at night so we can power up in the morning for a successful day!

Kids Say the Darnedest Things!

As a nanny for the past 8 years there are so many reasons I love my job. Being able to play a
role in so many different children's development and foster their growing can be incredibly
rewarding. I’ve always been so grateful to have my nanny kids in my life because no matter
what is happening at home, no matter how serious life gets these kids always...and I mean
ALWAYS find a way to cheer me up (and they don’t even know they are doing it!).
I recently decided to ask a few of my fellow nanny friends to participate in a series of questions
to see how their kiddos would respond and it absolutely gave me a good laugh and I hope it does for you too.

(G-Girl B-Boy- -Number is their age)
Question #1- Why do you like being a kid?

B4: “I get to do fun things”
G7: “I don’t like being a kid because I have to listen to mommy
and daddy. I want to be a grown up so I can tell my mommy and daddy
what to do and make my own decisions”
B3: “I am just 3; I am a boy not 16!”
G7: “That I don’t have to do a lot of homework”

Question #2- One word to describe you would be _________

G7: “Fashionable”
B4: “Strong”
B3: “ **Insert kids name here** “
B9: “Awesome”

Questions #3- If you could be an animal which one would you be and why?

G7: “Unicorn because they are magical like me”
B4: “A rat so I could go flat and go under doors”
G7: “A dolphin. They swim all day”
G3: “A doggie”

Question #4- What do you like to do for fun?

G2: “Park!”
B4: “Play with Mommy”
G6: “I like to do my makeup”
B4.5: “Going on the swings at school”

Quesion #5- What's the nicest thing you’ve done for someone?

B4: “Eating someone's food for them when they don’t want it all”

G7: “Gave up my best friend for someone”
B4: “Smile and wave and say hi to everyone”
B3: “It’s not nice to scream and shout and you have to get out of
the bath if you do”

Question #6- What do you think you’ll be doing in 10 years?

G2: “I’m gonna give shots”
G7: “Walking down the red carpet”
B4: “Be a daddy and a jungle explorer”
B9: “College”

Question #7- What do you think makes a person good looking?

G7: “Having Abs and being kind”
B4: “Their boobies”
G7: “Their smile”
B9, G6, B4.5: "Having good hair”

Questions #8- What's the grossest thing you can think of?

G4, G2, G7, B9, B3.5: “Poop”
G7, B4.5, G7, G6: “Boogers”
B9: “Grandmas Feet”
B4: “Kissing someone on the mouth”

I wish I could sit around and ask different kiddos these questions all day. Their responses are
Plus… are they wrong?! ;D

Author: Kathryn Eastin