How to Be A Great Mom {This Summer}

It’s the last day of school for my kiddos.

About this time every year, I look longingly at pending summer and I am giddy.

I can’t wait to unplug the alarm clocks and sleep-in, eat powdered sugar donuts from the bag, live in our swimsuits, let my kids sleep in the fort made from bedsheets and make 27 varieties of popsicles.

Once those things are checked off our list, it’s generally Summer: Day 2.

Before the end of July, I can’t get my kids out of bed, they won’t stay out of the pantry, they are chaffed from all the swimsuit-wearing, my “good sheets” are filthy and the floors are sticky from all the sugary frozen ice and I’m on a countdown for school to start.

Don’t get me wrong, I love love love summer with my kids. We create memories that last forever and want it to be summer all year long (at least that first week), but I learned a long time ago, that reality is well, reality. And there can be too much of a good thing.

I know I’m a great mom and I don’t need a summer to tell me that. But I want to live this summer without regrets and I plan to do so by following these simple thoughts:

  1. Say yes as often as possible Yes, you can paint your toenails everyday a different color. Please do it here _____because it’s easier to clean up. Yes, you can hook up the hose the trampoline and create your own water park while tossing grapes in your mouth. Yes, you can have ice cream for lunch.
  2. Refuse to over-schedule– but get into a routine that works for your family. The beauty of summer as a child is the freedom to be carefree with days to do whatever. But at the same time, at our house we need a routine of good choices. For example, our default is the public swimming pool, library and $1 movie days or a crafty project. On a week we do nothing, we might do all 3 or none of these, but they are options when we start picking on each other. I like to give my kids time to do nothing!
  3. Be impulsive and creative-some of the best memories are from our spontaneity. I’m not so good at this (insert Type A), but if I listen to my kids, their impulsive ideas are often good ones, even when it means there’s a mess. Messy moments are often the best.
  4. Don’t be a tour guide– Kids don’t have to constantly entertained. We usually install a reading hour every day during the summer and last year for every hour they read, they earned screen time. It’s not timed or forced, but we stock up on really great summer reads to help make this happen. It’s during these down, unplanned times that kids have the freedom to be creative and entertain themselves.
  5. Monitor screen time– in our technology-filled world, this is absolutely necessary. We are pretty strict about it during the school year, but more lax in the summer. But the last thing I want them doing is filling their hours in front of a screen, so I will be conscious of how much my kids are idle. I also won’t be tweeting or Facebooking much and blogging less. My screen time needs to be limited too.
  6. Summer bucket list– Summer flies by and the time needs to be intentional. I like for my kids to pick one thing they really want to do-sometimes it’s berry picking or making homemade ice cream. My 5 year old really *wants* to break her arm, so she can get a cast. We’re going to try and skip that one. Choose one thing each and count is successful if you get it accomplished!
  7. Set aside time for yourself– I work from home and while I plan to cut back this summer (closing Mercy Shop for June and July and not taking on new writing projects), there are still things I need to do for Mercy House and words I want to write so I stay sane. I try to work an hour or two before my kids wake up and I usually have a babysitter one day a week. This summer, I’m paying my oldest to help me. She’s Red Cross certified and we’re both excited about it. I also arranged with my hubby to have one night a week out of the house to get work done.

I think just being present is the greatest gift we can give our children. There’s a lot of opportunities for this during the summer and I plan to take advantage.

Y’all remind me of that when I chafed, m’kay?


  1. 1

    alison says

    An idea for your little girl who wants to wear a cast, get an ace bandage that is used for wrapping ankles etc and wrap up her arm like a cast and if you have a sling she can use that as well. I often did this when little.

  2. 2


    First week of freshman football my son called me and told me the coach said he needed to get his arm looked at as it might be broke. Took him to the doctor where he got a clean bill of health. For the next two days I had him doing laundry, riding his bike to run errands, all whlle he complained about his arm hurting. I told him to suck it up since it was broken.

    At least until the doctor called back after those two days and let me know they missed the break on the x-ray. Could we bring him in immediately for a cast?!? I felt like the mom of the year!

    I like the say yes as often as possible. In summer I encourage the kids to have a lot of sleepovers. Spending the summer with friends having bonfires and staying up to all hours of the morning is always a great memory builder.

  3. 3


    I really enjoyed this post, especially your humor in the beginning after you listed all the things you’d do this summer before day #2. Saying “yes” is always a challenge for me, whether to my husband or my tiny girly, but I am going to do my best today, even if I only remember today to do just that. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. 4

    Sheila says

    Thanks for this post – I try not to be the “no” mom but its definitely hard. I would feel better about all of the above if I didn’t have to get my butt out of bed to work all day! Still looking forward to a fun summer for my kids!

  5. 5

    Jendeis says

    I liked this post. Even though my little one will still be in daycare during the summer, it’s helpful to have ideas for the weekends and even the long evenings. A great reminder to reduce all of our screen time (Guilty!).

    Another suggestion for your youngest who would like a cast. One of my cherished memories from summer camp was making plaster masks of our faces, or for something less taxing, you could do papier mache with old newspaper and a balloon (you use the balloon as a mold for the newspaper, when it dries, pop the balloon and you’ve got yourself a papier mache balloon!).

  6. 6


    Amen! I have my kids do “school” for about one hour each weekday morning. It gives them ideas for the rest of the day. The past two weeks we’ve studied the solar system and my little boys have had a great time painting their planets! I love the planned surprises too! Tomorrow I’m taking them to the bouncy place and then to the movies (during naptime for the youngest-oh well).

  7. 7

    Amy P. says

    LOVE this post. I have 3 teenagers and a kindergartner – summer needs to be intentional and spontaneous in our world. We make a summer bucket list every year and it’s fun to see the big boys get excited for the little one to check things off and vice versa..

  8. 8

    AmberK says

    Kristen, I seriously LOL’d at this post! That last sentence did me in 😉 I love your humor, sister! ha ha ha

    I’m with you…trying to be a fun momma in the summer and trying NOT to lose my sanity in the process…you remember I have three boys, right? Three. :) It’s F.U.N. at our house! LOL

    *We’ve started going to our local library once a week…I have to tell you, seeing my six year old’s face when he got his very own library card this week was … PRICELESS. He was ecstatic! And it’s good fun! I’m rambling…hushing up now. :)

    Happy Summer!

  9. 9


    Love it! Great tips to print out and keep in the daily journal, stuck on the mirror or taped to the back of the bedroom door.

    I think this could be re-titled…

    “How to be a Great Mom {THIS LIFE!}”

    As a step-mom to 2 boys who we wish we could see every single day…
    You quickly realize that there are only 52 weeks in the year.

    52 weekends.
    26 in mom’s home, 26 in dad’s home…
    That is so short.

    I’m learning from my husband that unless there’s an absolute reason to say no, say yes.
    And, that’s not just was it relates to the boys.
    It’s about saying yes to life.

    Because, ultimately, we all get 24 hours.
    And, only the Lord knows how many weeks and years.

    Who can we say YES to, today?

    All the best,

  10. 10


    Hello! I am a first time reader–I found you on Pinterest when researching some great travel tips with kids since I am posting about our upcoming Disney trip on my new blog, Meaningful Nest. I have to say that your blog and the info I have seen so far are fabulous! I love your theme and what your posts are about. I have become a new follower. :) I will certainly give credit and site your blog for any ideas I use on my post! Thank you so much for offering such great ideas!

  11. 11


    I think you have the right attitude and I can tell it comes from a few summers of experience. I used to want to do EVERYTHING in the summer, and it’s too much for them and for me. I’m tackling our summer the same way as you. We have a list of places we’d really like to go (national monuments, hiking, etc.) and have a planned reading time daily. Other than that, we’re swimming, playing with friends, or doing nothing on purpose. That’s how you really make memories, those spontaneous 4-hour Lego sessions between brother and sisters. That’s what I remember most about growing up with my sisters, was just playing in the basement.

  12. 12


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