How to Unplug When Summer Break Creates Summer Stress

How to Unplug When Summer Break Creates Summer Stress
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 How to Unplug When Summer Break Creates Summer Stress

By Drew Isserlis Kramer 

As the days grow longer and the temperatures rise, the anticipation of summer conjures visions of lazy beach days and carefree day drinking. That is until you remember that you now have children. If your children are old enough to pack up and send away to sleepaway camp, congratulations, your summer vibes are your own again.

For parents of younger children, the regular juggle of work and family life becomes even more untenable in the season of less school and more pressure to make magical warm-weather memories. If you dread the additional mental load of reapplying sunscreen and vacuuming sand from your messy mom car, fear not. With some planning, the Summer season can still give you the respite you crave from real life. 

Psst…check out Nurturing the Nanny-Parent Relationship

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Fill Your Childcare Gap

In generations past, families lived in multigenerational homes, offering many competent hands to care for little ones in every season. In America today, young families do not live within the same support network, requiring parents to seek outside support from daycare centers, private nannies and schools to fill the gap of adult supervision. 


When schools and daycare centers change their hours for summer, parents must look to other places for support. There are full-time nannies, of course, but If a full-time private nanny is not the right fit for your family, consider a part-time summer nanny or babysitter to ensure that you are able to both work and fill your own cup in the summer months. College students returning home for the season can become an excellent source of temporary childcare to ensure your work life and mental health remain a priority. Look to families with older children who might not need their own private nanny when their children are away at camp. Those families might jump at the chance to have you take their unused summer hours if the nanny is open to a share.

Create a Co-Parenting Community

If your budget does not allow for paid childcare, look to your community for support. Are there friends that would take your children for a few hours on a Tuesday if you take theirs for a few hours on Thursday? Co-parenting with another family can ensure that you have child-free hours to sit with a beach read. Bring your families together to share carpooling and cooking responsibilities so you don’t spend your entire summer in the car and kitchen. Seek friends with older children who can help entertain your younger children so that you can have an adult conversation. Develop supportive relationships with local families to help each other get through the day and create a tighter sense of community in your neighborhood.


Give the Gift of Camp

Finding extra hands in the home is important, but do not underestimate the value of camp for your children and yourself. Camp gives children the space to create new relationships outside of the school setting and nurture interests that aren’t emphasized in more academic settings. Even if you can only afford to do a few days or one week, find subject-specific camps that will advance your child’s interest in current passion points. Today, children can spend one-week exploring robotics and then the next exploring improv. Use the summer as an opportunity to expand interests and relationships with like-minded children.  

If camp isn’t in your budget, many public school districts offer summer programming at a far lower price point. Many camps also offer scholarships for families that are not able to cover the cost of summer experiences.  Seek programming from organizations like The Boys and Girls Club programs, which offer affordable summer experiences for children in need of care and stimulation when school is not in session. 

Create Magic from Lower Expectations 

When social media makes you worry that you’re the only family not off on a summer holiday, turn off your phone. Stop fixating on creating Instagram-worthy summer magic for your children. Remember that the magical quality of Summer comes from the freedom to be unscheduled. Magic comes from running through sprinklers with neighborhood children. Magic comes from unplanned trips to get ice cream. Magic comes from letting your child play in the sand uninterrupted while you do nothing but read that book. Don’t plan. Let kids get bored. They will create their own games. Order pizza. Grill hot dogs. Forget the laundry. Do the dishes tomorrow. Create a slower pace for yourself that allows you to have time to just be. Enjoy the messy, unstructured season of summer because that is where the real magic lives.