Parenting Over Summer Break – Rigging the Game

Guess what! Summer break is here! Hooray for sleeping in, running around outside, watching tv all day and playing video games! Isn’t it great to have months with no commitments?

Wait. What? We don’t get to do that? Well what’s in it for the parents, then? Man, parenting over summer break sucks!

It’s summer break here in Fargo and that means the eldest is home. While she may be excited for the warm weather and sleeping in, I’ll admit I’m a little less keen. See, summer break for her and summer break for me are two very different things. As much as I love spending time with her, I’m missing my days with the house to myself. It’s calm, quiet, slow-paced, quiet, mine, and most importantly….quiet.

Yeah, I’m not in love with being asked every two minutes if we can do something “special.” Kiddo, it’s not special if we do it every day! I need help, and I need it now. How on earth can I keep her busy and me sane?

Rigging the Game

I’ve used this phrase a few times before in previous blog posts, but what does it mean exactly? No, I’m not talking about cheating at a board game, although I have a fun story about my then 4-year-old daughter playing Memory (I’ll even set up the board, Moppa!).

I’m talking about “cheating” a little in real life. For the parents who don’t have the spoons (or batteries) to cope with constant kid explosion, being a little sneaky is the only way to get by. What does that look like? It depends on the situation. Cheating could mean having your eldest pack goodie bags for the youngest’s Halloween party. It could mean keeping a few spare microwavable meals in the freezer if you can’t cook. Bonus points if it’s cool kid-friendly meals (ya know…the kind you only give them on “special occasions”).

However you do it, creating those short cuts can mean a lot to our sanity in the short and long run. And when it comes to summer, there’s little that’s more taxing!

Parenting Over Summer Break

6 year old Eileen readingI’ll be honest, I wouldn’t survive if I didn’t seriously prepare for break. Preparing is the best thing you can do for yourself and your sanity. Okay, yeah, maybe summer has already started, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make up a plan now. If you’re the sort that loves schedules, having a daily plan might be enough to keep you stable. if not, having a plan will at least give you something you can fall back on.

Sorry kiddo, it’s reading time. Grab a book and hush.

In our household, my daughter is the one who sets up the plans. She’ll even draw up a giant calendar so she doesn’t forget anything. How does that help me? I get to help by scheduling in downtime just for me. During that time, she has to keep herself distracted and let me be.

A Distracted Plan

Having a tool kit of distractions can be a lifesaver when you’re stuck at home. I know I don’t always have the strength to get out of the house, but then I get stir-crazy children. Preparation is key.

So, as an example, if your kid is a little one, rigging the game might look like:

  • Creating play kits for when they get antsy.
  • Scheduling in TV time for a little peace and quiet.
  • Letting them make a mess for a while (yeah, the stress is worth it and afterward, they can help clean up. Learning a lesson and keeping busy at the same time!).
  • Figuring out their favorite toys and keeping them handy.
  • Let them play with a (locked) computer (the tiny human loves smashing keys even on the lock screen).

If your kid is a bit older, you can include them in the planning process. If you have two kids (one older and one younger) you can draft the older into helping prep for the younger! Keep in mind, though, that you don’t want the eldest doing all of the parenting… that’s not their job. But they can definitely help!

Alarming Help

Over the summer, I also need to plan for my own illnesses. When I’m alone all day and depressed, there’s the real chance that I’ll forget to eat. For me, it’s not great, but for the kids that’s a big no-no.

How do I handle it? I set alarms on my phone to remind me to eat (and feed them)!

It may feel silly to program 10 alarms for the day, but I promise it can be worth it. When it comes to the kids, there’s an alarm to get up,  take meds, have lunch, “quiet time”, wake up time, and an alarm for dinner.  Oh! I also have an alarm for bedtime for me…because that’s a lot and I don’t want to forget!

Alarms definitely save my backside on a regular basis. But ultimately, it’s whatever works for you.


Yup, I said it. Chores are a great way to keep kids busy for a little bit. Admittedly, if your kid is really little, this one won’t help, but if they’re old enough, there’s something to be said for setting a couple daily chores. Not only are you getting help around the house, but you’re teaching the importance of maintaining their stuff.

Now, I’m not saying you should have them clean the whole house every day. This is really only a little buy for time (depending on the kids efficiency and all). They need a life outside of housework, and honestly they shouldn’t have to do all the work any more than you should.

Still, it’s completely fair to teach them how to do their own laundry (Eileen has been doing her own laundry since she was 6). Or, if they’re old enough to responsibly use cleaners, set them to cleaning the bathroom. Even loading and unloading the dishwasher can be great as long as you don’t mind the occasional misplaced dish.

Seriously…I’m still looking for one of my mugs.

We’ll get through this!

Parenting over summer break can be fun, but if can also be exhausting. Still, if we take the time to plan a bit, we can make this summer a little easier for all of us. And frankly, that’s exactly what we need.  Lets rig the game in our favor this summer, and everyone we love with be happier for it (including us, because we need that love too!).



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