Large Family Tips: How to Have an Awesome Summer
Large Family Tips for an Awesome Summer
It’s official here in the Pacific Northwest, summer break is here and the official beginning of summer is just around the corner. Parenting 14 kids for the last 22 years has taught me plenty about how to have an awesome summer. It has taught me to loosen my plans, give myself grace, be spontaneous, and embrace joy.
So, here are my tips on how to have an awesome summer.
1. Lower Your Standards
Lower your standards. If you have the privilege of staying home with your kids over the summer (like I do) make sure you lower your standards enough that you and your kids can enjoy it. What d\o I mean by this? I don’t mean let them slack in obedience or respect. I do mean if you have to buy cheap popsicles to keep your freezer filled with popsicles, do it. I would love to give my kids fruit-only popsicles and healthy smoothies only, but I can’t afford it right now. Therefore, cheap popsicles (which they love!) it is. This means we have plenty for hot days and plenty to share with friends.
2. Let Them Have Their Friends Over
Chuck and I always wanted to be the cool parents who had the latest video games and best snacks so all the kids wanted to hang out at our house. Then a few things happened. We realized we didn’t want our kids playing the latest video games or eating a lot of junk food. Oh, and with ten or more kids of my own on any given day, I didn’t necessarily want to add more to the mix.
Well, I’ve really been working on this lately. Admittedly, now that my kids are older this is a whole lot easier. If my kids want their friends over, the answer is always yes, unless we have plans that make it impossible. This gives me a chance to get to know their friends, it keeps the kids happy, and can often be a help to other parents.
Oh, and this is when those cheap popsicles come in super handy.
Pro tip: keep a Teen-Only boxed stocked and at the ready. Your kids will love you forever.
3. Be Prepared (So You Can Be Spontaneous)
A few years ago I came up with a brilliant solution (if I do say so myself) to summer water activities. I bought each of my kids a different beach towel at Costco. These towels are the ONLY towels that ever leave the house. Whether we are going to the beach, lake, or pool, they kids each grab their own towel. They are responsible for keeping track of them and hanging them to dry when we come home. If they can’t find their towel or its wet, that is their problem.
This has prevented so much damage to our regular bath towels. I can’t recommend this enough!
4. Check Out Your Local Free Activites
When you have 14 kids you learn to love free. Every community has a variety of free activities. Some activities that we have enjoyed are:
Library reading programs.
Summer Concerts. Our library offers free outdoor concerts on the library lawn once a week.
Get outside. We obviously love the outdoors in our family and we love to walk, hike, bike, and visit local parks.
Swim. We can swim free in the ocean and lakes.
5. Have a Staycation
Host and DIY Summer Family Camp
We did this for three years in a row and it was AMAZING! Get a few friends together, do a little brainstorming, and have the adventure of a lifetime (for your kids, anyway). Here is a post about how we put together our family camps.
Keep Up Your Bedtime Routine!
I know, it is so tempting to let the kids stay up late night after night, but the truth is kids do better with routine and good sleep. There is nothing wrong with letting the kids stay up late once in a while and forsaking routine but try to keep a consistent bedtime and routine most nights.
More awesome summer ideas:
This post talks about how we managed chores and screen time last summer. We will definitely be doing some version of this again.
If you don’t do anything else this summer, promise me you will try this Vanilla Latte Ice Cream recipe!!!
A snarky mom’s guide. Enough said. But for a serious view on the topic check out the post Create Your Own Summer Reading Plan.
Here is how we built a foundation for our Intex pool and a review of the pool itself.
Gleaned from fifteen plus years of camping with our large family!
Thoughts and ideas on dealing with boredom in our kids.
Easy to set up Montessori-based activities you can set up for your preschooler or toddler.
For less than $10 you can set up a sensory play area for your kids!
Be sure and follow my summer fun Pinterest board!
The Penny Hoarder has a list of 100 Free Summer Activities
Do you have any great tips for having an awesome summer? Please share in the comment (feel free to share links as well).