This is a Job for Summer Mom
You read that right. Not SuperMom - super mom does the job from September to June. This year, she homeschooled, pivoted, carpooled, cooked dinner, cleaned her kitchen every 5 minutes, and did it all over again. Now, she is vaccinated and ready for re-entry. She’s ready for an ice cold Angry Orchard Rosé, a beach read, and take out. Her side job is empowering the youth of today to be the leaders of tomorrow, and she accomplishes this by doing as little as possible for the children in her care.
Here’s how to be Summer Mom, in 10 easy steps.
1. Paper goods. I cannot emphasize enough how much less time you will spend cleaning up after people if you get them to use paper plates. I believe the environmental impacts are net zero - no washing of dishes saves water. Plus you can empower even very young children to clean up after themselves if you show them how to move a paper plate directly into the trash can. It’s a life lesson and a timesaver all in one.
2. When the kids begin to approach you at the summer BBQ or the pool, remember that Summer Mom is all about empowering youth. The correct response is “Go ask Dad.” If Dad is not available, next response is “You are so smart. I know this is something you can figure out yourself."
3. All foods are for all meals. Munchkins can be breakfast and lunch and a snack. Cereal is great for dinner. Leftover pizza is a good breakfast option - and can be eaten cold, which will prepare them for college. Teaching kids not to waste food is an important job of Summer Mom, as is helping them learn how to prepare it themselves. If they are hungry enough, they will figure it out.
4. A great way to teach Math Skills is with snack bar money. “This is all the money we have for the snack bar. Make it last all day. If you have leftover, you can keep it.”
5. Reading skills can also be reinforced in a simple way: read the recipe on the side of the pancake box, follow the directions, and make it yourself. See #3 above - this is not lazy on your part, this is empowering.
6. Sunscreen. This is one area that Summer Mom takes very seriously. Sunscreen is very important. Here’s how to manage it best: as you arrive at the pool or beach, find the mom that is already sunscreening up a line of children, and then shove your child into that line. Hopefully she is a Summer Mom too, and she will not notice that there is an extra kid in the line.
7. Screen time. We know that too much screen time is not good for kids, so if Summer Mom is catching up on Mare of Easttown during the day, send the kids outside to play. Another good trick is to unplug the xbox and tell them it’s broken and you’re not sure what happened, but you have a call in to the repair person. Then when it rains, plug it back in and tell them you’re glad you took those electrical engineering courses in college. A good reminder to stay in school and pursue a good education.
8. Crafts. This is a tricky one, because without supervision, this can go south very quickly. That’s why I advocate for all crafts to be done outdoors. It encourages outdoor time and also prevents glitter / slime / perler beads / glue from getting on your kitchen table or the carpet in your family room. Even better - wait till the sitter arrives. Sitters are being paid to do the stuff you hate to do.
9. Set a good example. The best way to do this is to read books. While they empty the dishwasher, read a book. They are sorting the laundry, and you are reading a book. They are emptying the cooler, and you are reading a book. This is how to raise readers: be one yourself.
10. Empower your children to keep track of their own belongings - a critical life skill - by not doing it for them. It’s just that simple. "No, honey, I’m not sure where you left your goggles/pool towel/$5 bill. Sorry. Better luck keeping track of your own stuff next time. Oh, your sister took it. Work it out with her."