Summer is HERE! Can you feel it? 8 days of school left here for our littles and they are all abuzz with excitement. I had the wild realization that I’m a little behind on our summer planning – meaning we’ve planned nothing! Which is okay. We’re pretty low-maintenance staycationers anyway. But peaceful staycationing takes some thought – otherwise the natives get restless and bored and whiny, and us parents get irritable and snappy.
Here are some of our favorite summer hacks – easy, low-cost, and fun!
Our summer staples are watermelon, popsicles, cereal, chips and salsa, corndogs, sparkling water, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, glowsticks, flashlights and batteries, paints and brushes, sunscreen, hair elastics, and goggles. We never not have these in our house. Make your master list, hit the dollar store to shop smart and stock backups, and have fun living simply (i.e. low-stress!) this summer.
If it has more than 5 ingredients, or requires the oven long enough that the house gets hot, we aren’t cooking it. In addition to these fun meal ideas, try easy stuff your people will gobble up like:
Breakfast for dinner
Breakfast shakes (bigger littles can make them themselves)
Cereal in a cup (why this is fun I will never know)
Tapas (put whatever you have on a giant cutting board and let them graze)
Pasta or chicken salad you can make a vat of ahead of time and munch on for a few days
Now that you have your simple meals planned, if you aren’t doing this next step already, start immediately! You can shop from your couch or your desk and for 5 tiny dollars, someone else will roam through the store, bag it all, and deliver it out to your car while you sit in the air conditioning sipping your latte and enjoying a podcast. SPEND THE FIVE DOLLARS and SAVE YOUR SANITY. We save money and waste less too when we shop this way. Bonus – with Kroger Clicklist, if you set your pickup time for the next day, you can go back in and add things you forgot all the way up until midnight.
Save gas, time, and impatient child-accompanied shopping trips by ordering it all online. Yes this requires a 2-day preparation but we can do this, right? I checked yesterday and they will literally even free-ship pool noodles to your front door. (I decided to save the planet a little and just go pick them up locally myself.)
Sonic happy hour slushies
Morning matinee movie (pick up $1 box candy from the grocery)
Build-your-own-fort movie night
Slumber party/sleeping bags in the game room
Open a new chalk/bubbles/game
A different kind of popsicles (it really is that easy)
Take picnic lunch to the park
Pool passes or find a friend you can kid-swap with (PLEASE make sure your children are confident in the water, and/or are wearing the right safety floaties, especially in someone else’s pool.)
Help them earn an “ice cream man” fund! Quarters for easy jobs, a dollar for big ones. Chase the truck down the street, it’s part of the fun!
I saw a cute chart that asked kids a bunch of questions – have you done [all these things] before saying “I’m bored?” Or, have you done [all these things] before turning on screens? We’ll start that idea this summer. Summer is made for outside and friends and sweat and scrapes and being off-schedule and creative ideas!
How far down the street can they ride their bikes, whose house can they go play in, which kids can come inside your house to play, what’s the call signal to come back inside, what’s the rule on checking in, stay out of Mr. So-and-so’s yard, you cannot go swimming without permission or a parent, etc. We review our phone numbers and addresses with them regularly too.
Grab a few neighbors or girlfriends and set up a summer kid-swap! One mom takes the children Tuesday morning, you take Thursday morning, etc. When it’s your turn to host, the kids can play, have a snack, watch a movie, run around outside, whatever, and each mom gets one morning a week OFF. Run errands, take a nap, get some vitamin D, write your book, enjoy 5 minutes’ peace.
Put her on standby so you never ever have to scramble. We’ve carefully curated our list over years of being teachers and knowing awesome kids and their families, but they do these things like “go to college” or “get married” and stuff. So we have to start all over. We always have a couple good little neighborhood girls who are great for quick spells, and 1-2 rock solid older girls who can drive, and who I even trust for late nights or even overnight with the kids if we need. Ask around and get some good referrals. Invite her over for an interview, and then have her wrangle the kids for a couple hours one day while you’re hiding on the other side of the house with an ear to the door. If she passes, put her on your speed dial and DO NOT SHARE HER WITH ANYONE!! Just kidding. (No I’m not.)
Negotiate whatever $$ rate you choose – extra occasional perks for our “regulars” include movie tickets, meals, bonus cash from time to time, skin care and makeup from my business store, fun outings, etc. They will love you as much as they love your children and they will want to sit for you for life!
We get so bombarded with pressure to have the perfect “summer body.” Can we just focus on feeling great about ourselves instead? The last thing any woman has time for is self-doubt. Here are some simple and sweet ways to dial up your confidence and feel amazing about your summer self!
What’s your go-to look? Keep it super simple for summer. Literally the easiest way to transition from season to season is to refresh your lipstick. Swap out the fall/winter shades for some fun pinks or corals. I am here if you need help! Or call your own beauty girl – shop small, support her business, and let her help you look amazing. Find a great hat and/or hair look that makes you feel amazing and that you can throw together in 2 minutes. I live in a cap and a side pony with awesome earrings from April-August.
Find a great CC cream or moisturizer with SPF. And then put it on your face! It does no good if it sits in a drawer. Sunscreen for your body is not always good for your face, and you only get one face, so you may as well invest in it well. If your SPF is more than a year old, toss it and get a new one. It has a true shelf life.
How to have a beach body:
I am hereby giving us all permission to stop obsessing over this. Your body has carried you around since birth, has possibly given birth to a tiny human or two, and somehow still manages to give you life and mobility every day. Give her a break. Find a cute suit that you love and wear it. In front of people. My favorite cheat on this is a super-cute cover up and great sandals. And my hat and side pony and awesome earrings with big sunglasses. I love those couple of easy things that make me feel great no matter what.
My skin gets crazy dry in the summer so I am a masking, moisturizing, good-stuff-using fanatic. Maybe you want to grow your nails out, or get your hair looking healthy, or your skin glowing, or your teeth brighter. This is not vanity… these are little things that help us feel great about ourselves. It takes so little time and just a little attention, so why not go for it? Ask your hairdresser about a good conditioner, or just start drinking more water and moisturizing more, or make yourself a sticker chart for every day you remember to wash your face morning and night. Grownups should get prizes too!
Find a good book you actually WANT to read this summer. Summer is for fun, so find something you like. I love personal development and Jesus books but every once in awhile I just want to read a fun mystery or a classic. Little Women is my favorite book of all time and I’ll pull it out again this summer because I am a grown up and because I can!
Also fun: choose one NEW thing you want to try this summer. Figure out how to do it, take the class, register for the webinar, and just take the leap of faith. Kids get all summer to do whatever the hockey-sticks they want. Why shouldn’t their mamas get to have fun too?
Ask your man out on a great date. YOU plan it! He’ll love the surprise!
I love summer so much because it’s an opportunity to literally lighten up. Ditch what doesn’t serve you anymore, add in some fun and excitement to your home, and enjoy a season where everyone breathes a little easier and plays a little more.
What are your summer hacks? Drop a comment – I love new ideas!
Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have 4 children, LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and brand new baby Elisha.
Join the Heartfully Present Community