We are the Exhausted Moms of Summer

A few years ago, my friend had a good laugh when I told her my kids and I had just gotten back from the beach and that I was exhausted.

She was at work all day, so a day at the beach sounded glorious and stress-free to her. It was difficult to get her to understand that no, it wasn’t all (or even a little bit) fun and games.

A day at the beach is a lot of work.

As many moms can empathize, not only was I watching my kids every minute because of the water, I worried about sunburn and that they stayed hydrated.

I schlepped towels, a blanket, sunscreen, hats, a change of clothes, beach toys, drinks, and the many snacks that I ran out the night before to get.

So no, it wasn’t that relaxing for me. Nor did I expect to be, given my kids were still so young. But yes, I would loved to have been on Facebook or reading a book.

Now that my kids are older, I’m exhausted in a different way.

Exhausted moms of summer

There is this pressure to fill their summer breaks with meaningful lessons and enriching and exciting experiences combined with requisite downtime.

How will we find a good balance this summer?

Exhausted moms of summer (Photo credit: Amanda Downing)

Kids’ summer breaks

So many moms experience pressure and anxiety over their kids’ summer breaks.

These are usually moms who love having their kids at home and not in school.

They are thrilled it’s summer and are looking forward to making lots of fun memories with their kids.

Many families make summer bucket lists to be sure they remember to do the fun things they’ve been wanting to do all year.

Yet, as exciting as all of this is, we are the exhausted moms of summer.

I bet if you ask your fellow moms, they would agree.

It’s not so much that we are exhausted in a physically tired way…. it’s more that we are putting so much pressure on ourselves to do more, to teach more, and to experience more, that we are worn out and worn down.

We are super busy during a time that we should be relaxing.

Pressure and anxiety? Why? Because it’s summer!

In my house, we always start the summer strong.

We sign up for the summer reading program at the library. The kids read and log their minutes.

They play outside without prompting.

Instead of playing on the iPad, the new rule is the kids help make their own breakfasts and lunches. Hey, they have all of this extra time, they can sure help.

They willingly agree to do a page a day in their summer slide workbooks. We’ve already signed up for a few camps. They’ve seen a friend or two.

This all happens for maybe the first week, and then it stops.

They are back on electronics too much. (Keep them off electronics with these ideas.)

I’m nagging them but also really enjoying this break to get my own work done or to to just veg out online or with my Netflix shows. It’s summer after all, don’t us moms deserve some R&R too?

Moms know we need to take breaks too. Yet these summers, which should be carefree, come with lots of stress.

Back in the day — the unstructured summer

I know for sure I didn’t grow up this way.

I’m sure my mom, who was awesome, never worried about what we accomplished over the summer. Kids played in the neighborhood and rode bikes all around town.

We played with water balloons and ran through the sprinkler. Remember hopscotch? We played tag, roller skated in the driveway, and played basketball.

I remember using my dad’s old tennis racket and spending hours hitting a tennis ball against my house. My sister and I would make complex obstacle courses with jump ropes, hula hoops, and other objects in our garage. We improvised using buckets and coolers for “cones.”

We made up games and figured out how to entertain ourselves. And we had a blast.

Summers now

Summers now come with so much extra stress. We’re more anxious than ever. Many moms feel this underlying pressure that we’re not doing enough to enrich our kids.

It’s like we’ve been given this glorious gift of practically obligation-free days, and we need to make the most of them.

Are Pinterest and social media to blame?

Here’s why we are exhausted moms

Pressure to teach and for kids to learn

If I can’t get my son to practice in his cursive workbook during the school year, when we are bogged down with school days, sports, clubs, homework and more, it would make sense that we should be able to do this over the summer.

But it’s not happening. I seriously can’t make this happen 5 – 10 minutes a day, even once a week!

We “should” be reading everyday and practicing math facts, even for a few minutes. Even if I set them up online to learn. But this isn’t happening either. And they’ve only done about 8 pages each in their workbooks. Our school awards students for the most minutes spent reading and for online pursuits.

This is additional pressure; we don’t want to be the only family who doesn’t partake in these opportunities.

Then there are the summer camp catalogs to consider. Of course, most families figure this out well before summer break, lest the camps be filled. Summer camps are great and a nice break for kids to get away from siblings and to give the exhausted moms a break.

They are a lifesaver for working families. There are camps for everything… cooking, drama, sports, coding, engineering. At least eight kids from my son’s baseball team enrolled in a baseball camp. I found myself feeling badly that my son would “be behind” because I didn’t sign him up for it.

See friends while we are not bogged down with activities

This is the time to schedule playdates and parties. It’s rare during the school year when our schedule matches a friend’s schedule. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an area where there are kids in the neighborhood to play with.

So there is pressure to schedule meetups with friends.

Visit local attractions before it’s too late

Then there are all the local attractions that your kids will soon be outgrowing. Shouldn’t we be going to the zoo, miniature golfing, and to the lake?

Heck, people come HERE for vacation, and we have all of this in our backyard so to speak. Why aren’t we taking advantage of it? When my kids reach the teen years, they won’t want to go. Or they’ll be busy working, or they’ll have other plans.

And in the case of the children’s museum and similar venues, they’ll be too old! We must go now!

All of those Pinterest ideas

I have been guilty of going on Pinterest to find cool activities and holiday crafts to do with my kids over the summer and not doing any of them. Not one!

Go on a great vacation

Now is the time to go on that family trip. Did you plan anything? Can you get off of work and do you have money to go?

Vacations now are becoming the “what did you get from Santa” questions a la six months ago.

Did you take your kid on a cool enough vacation?

Even more than that, you only have so much money and time. It’s difficult to choose where to go, even if you are able. And of course, you were the one who had to plan it. You can bet you will be the one packing for it and will be the one doing upteen loads of laundry when you return.

Kids need creative playtime

Now is the time for creative play. Oh how I long for the days for my now-tweens to pull out the TinkerToys and Lincoln Logs and whatever else and just build, create, invent… play!

Why is it always me who has to bring them out?

(Have you ever brought out a long-lost toy and just set it on the floor in your living room to see what happens? I did this with all of their Hot Wheels cars and sets one summer. They walked past it and ignored it for three days, so I donated all of it. Then of course, three months later, they wanted to play Hot Wheels!)

I am forever rotating toys in their rooms and bringing out games to play.

Then there are the art projects. Oh how we used to create. My kids loved playing with pipe cleaners, Play-doh, painting, coloring, drawing.

You name it, we had it and they enjoyed it. Now? It’s a forced activity. Even worse, I just don’t have the energy to drag out all of this stuff and nag at my kids to partake in it.

Let’s learn science

I knew I reached a new level of exhaustion when I walked past a shelf of science sets on sale for 50 – 75% off and didn’t buy one of them. I looked at them as more obligation for me.

These kits would be an anchor in my mind, weighing me down with the “we should be doing a science kit instead of watching TV, etc.”

As it is, I have boxes of science and art kits in our closets. For whatever reason, I am unmotivated to pull them out this summer.

Why are we exhausted moms?

Basically, we are exhausted doing all these things yet feeling like we’re not doing enough. Believing we’re not maximizing our time.

The kids are growing up so fast. We need them to learn all of these things, play all of these games, see all these friends, schedule all of these camps, swim, and go to all of these places, because if we don’t do it now, we never will.

We have 10 weeks to do this… it’s all the time in the world and not enough time, all at the same time.

Soon, it will be time for the dreaded back-to-school shopping and getting prepared for school. And then in a flash, it will be the holidays.

In the meantime, there’s shopping, meal planning, cooking, and laundry. There’s always tons to do.

Nothing makes me happier than come Friday, I can look back on our week and feel like I balanced my kids’ energy, creativity, curiosity and our together time with their wishes as well.

We all need lazy days of summer. I just wish I could better balance this in my mind, channel my anxiety, and enjoy whatever it is we are doing.

One thing is for certain, we exhausted moms of summer will keep plugging away.

Empty Nest: How Old Will You Be When You Have One?

empty nest

An older mom friend made an off-handed comment on our kids’ first day back to school. She said how she wasn’t feeling more confident as she got older.

She said this notion of being more confident as we age must have applied to our moms’ generation. They had their children younger.

When my mother was 44 years old, I graduated college.

Yet, when I was 44, my child was a preschooler. If my youngest moves out when she’s 23, I’ll have an empty nest when I’m 63.

Thinking back, I felt much more confident in my teens and twenties, even as a professional growing my career with accomplished peers decades older. Here I am in my late forties, on the brink of my fifties, feeling less confident than ever.

What happened?

Didn’t women grow up learning the older we were, the more confident we would be?

We were supposed to feel more secure in ourselves and care less about what other people thought about us.

Why isn’t that happening?

Enjoying the empty nest when you are a younger mom

This friend reasoned this feeling may not apply to older moms.

It applied to women who had kids while they were in their twenties and younger thirties. They’d have time to experience the empty nest sooner than we would.

Older moms come into motherhood with more experience

Older moms have a lot going for them. Many come into motherhood being more financially stable and in a secure relationship. They may have the luxury to decide if they want to stay home with their children or continue to pursue their careers.

Additionally, older moms may be more confident because they’ve had careers and traveled before having kids.

These moms “made it” on their own. They were self-sufficient alone. They bought their own cars and houses.

Most likely, they had a lot to be proud of before having children.

Older women figured out who they were before having kids. Shouldn’t that propel them into motherhood feeling they could accomplish anything?

One might think so….

Moms decades ago had an empty nest sooner

All of this already having “success on their own” is a huge difference from generations ago, when our mothers raised us. Decades ago, women as a norm had children much younger than we do today.

Many moms had an empty nest while they were in their late 30s and into their 40s. Our empty nest might not start for another 20 years, when we are in our late fifties or early 60s.

Back in the day, many mothers spent the vast majority of their young adult lives raising children.

When their kids left home, these women grew in confidence as they had the opportunity to focus on themselves.

While they may have experienced empty nest syndrome, they had time to pursue hobbies, start new careers, and become more involved in things that were important to them.

These women could come into their own, still being young enough — in their late 30s and into their 40s — to have their health, energy, and youthful appearance.

empty nest

Why older moms feel less confident

Appearance and hormones

There are a lot of internal obstacles women now experience.

We are facing an uphill battle as we attempt to age gracefully in our looks-obsessed culture.

We may find it harder to maintain or to lose extra weight. And geez louise, we have to deal with hormonal changes, including menopause, all while raising children.

(When my child was in second grade, I was already dealing with menopause!)

Internet influences our psyche

Moms today face another challenge: the Internet. Yes, it’s so great in so many ways, but in many ways, it isn’t.

Log onto Pinterest and in seconds you can feel like you aren’t doing enough, aren’t creative enough, or aren’t ambitious enough.

It makes you wonder who is doing all of this? Why am I not doing all of this?

So we start to seek out ideas, we pin things to our board, we make lists of things we want to accomplish.

Yet, we can never do it all, no one can. But it leaves us feeling somehow less than and not accomplished with all of these ideas hanging out there.

Social media 

Another is social media. This is even worse than all of the other Internet offerings.

How can you not help but compare yourself to others online, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat and the others?

Look at all the perfect families! Look at all these people going out and having a great time with each other! Wow, look at those restaurants and vacations so many of your friends are enjoying.

While it’s great, in many ways Facebook is worse for the psyche. When we’re on Facebook, many of us switch gears from having a growth mindset to a proving mindset. We post, trying to create the best image of ourselves and our families.

It’s difficult to not compare and try to keep up with everyone else.

And with these sometimes great, sometimes not-so-great Facebook birthday notifications, several times I’ve been stunned to learn I am 15+ years (!) older than a few fellow moms. I really had no idea.

This one time a casual mom acquaintance (we had kids in the same grade) turned 33; I was 50 at the time!

On some level, I knew I was older. But I never gave it much thought. Seeing her age blasted on Facebook made me much more aware of the age differences between me and most moms. It was — and has been — downright depressing.

Feeling worse after going on Facebook

Social media can make us feel less than very easily.

Even when were are willingly trying not to compare ourselves to others in real life when we see them, there it is smacking us online, often are times when we least expect it or are prepared for it.

Think of the times you go on Facebook.

Sometimes you’re bored, avoiding other tasks, feeling alone.

Depending on what you see when you log on, it could really make you feel worse.

It’s not that we’re trying to compete, we are trying to survive.

We all want to be included and feel like we have friends.

We all want to be proud of our kids and happy in our families our marriages, our homes, our schools, our neighborhoods.

In our parents’ generation, they didn’t know what was going on socially in their community unless they heard about it from someone in person or by phone.

To find out anything, they had to talk to people at school functions, religious events, and people in the neighborhood. We can just click away, day or night.

Older moms have a delayed empty nest

When I grew up, I thought when I got older things would get easier. I wouldn’t care what other people thought.

Yet, here I am, in the throes of raising my kids, interacting with these other moms, trying to figure it out just as my kids are learning to make their own way.

Moms finding their way

So it’s natural if while were in our 30s, 40s and 50s we don’t feel like we have it figured out, not even a little bit.

With so many opportunities to enrich our children, and enrich ourselves, we are exhausted. The Internet is great and makes our lives easier. However, in so many ways, it really plays on our psyches, on our fears, on our sense of who we are and who we want to be.

Couple this with being a fifty-something-year-old with kids in elementary school and middle school, possibly also caring for our own parents. It’s even harder to know who we are in a world of better, faster, more, look at me.

We find ourselves when we have an empty nest

We are grateful for for our lives, we love our children, and we wouldn’t change the timing of anything.

But all of this comes at a price to us and our confidence.

e should be the wise ones, but instead we sometimes feel insecure and that we aren’t doing enough.

But the really good news?

Us older moms have time to figure it out, once we are finally empty nesters.

There’s a study which shows that women who had their last child after 33 years old were twice as likely to live to 95 years old as women who had their last child before 30.

So, once our children leave our house, we will have many more decades to feel more confident and spend less time on social media… at last!

Ways to Get Involved at Your Child’s School and Volunteer

volunteer at your child's school

There are so many reasons to get involved at your child’s school. You will be volunteering your time but you will be the one who will reap the most rewards.

In whatever time constraints you have, chances are, there is something in the school you can help with.

Due to moving, we’ve been in five different elementary schools, in four districts. They were all very different in the kind of help they wanted and needed.

No matter what, you can get involved if you want to. Many times, there are volunteer jobs you can do from home, which helps when you work full time.

Reasons to get involved at your child’s school

Make friends

When our kids are young, it’s a lot easier to make friends with other parents.

As they age out of play dates and life gets busier, it’s more difficult to make friends.

Everyone is over-committed and scheduled. And if you are new to a school, it’s even more of a challenge.

However, when you volunteer at your child’s school, you will tend to see the same people repeatedly. There are certain volunteers who step up, and they tend to do more than one thing.

No matter what your child’s grade, you will get to know parents as you work side-by-side at Jog-a-thons, bake sales, and planning fall festivals.

You know what’s going on

The parents and guardians who volunteer tend to know more about what’s going on at school.

Be a part of something bigger

If you are a stay-at-home parent with little ones, sometimes it’s monotonous.

Sure, it’s great, but at times it’s mundane.

When you volunteer at your child’s school, or anywhere, you are contributing to the greater good. And you get out of your own mind.

You can come back home refreshed and ready to handle your routines.

Get to observe the students

Whether you help in the classroom, shelve books at the library, or help at a school event, you will get to see your child’s classmates and students in other grades.

You will relate better to your child’s stories about these children. And likely, will will start to form some opinions yourself.

Teachers and staff get to know you

Teachers don’t always have time to reach out to you via email, but you may get to hear something nice your son or daughter did, etc., just because you are there.

They are also likely to view you as a proactive, involved parent.

Students get to know you

Not only will the faculty get to know you, but the students will too. You will be charmed by the smiles and hellos you get.

Connect with other parents

Even if you don’t become fast friends, when you volunteer at your child’s school you gain the opportunity to talk to other adults.

Especially for stay-at-home-parents, this can be really satisfying and more real than interacting on Facebook and other social media.

Sure, you won’t love everyone, but you will have the chance to gravitate toward the moms and parents you do like.

Revive your skills and learn new ones

Often, parents leave the workforce after having children.

Volunteering at your child’s school is a great way to get back in a professional capacity, renewing skills, learning new ones, and taking on responsibility.

Make your kids proud

Your children will see how much you care about their school experience, and they will love seeing you.

Set a great example for your kids and let them see you in action. Kids see us at the Parent At Home.

Volunteering at their school is an awesome opportunity to let them see you shine in other ways.

How to help at school

Some teachers want parents in the classroom, even in the older grades. Others may try to accommodate kindergarten parents by letting them help with stations but nothing else.

However, most teachers don’t ask for any help in the classroom.

There are many reasons for this, but one is teachers need to focus on their students, not on the parents.

Whether or not you are actually in your child’s classroom really doesn’t matter. It’s often better not to be so your child has a chance to learn to be without you.

Assist teacher as needed

In these cases, you can offer your help to your child’s teacher by being behind the scenes. You can offer your services to makes copies and/or assist the teacher in any way he or she needs. Maybe you help out on a special activity day or class project.

Room parent

You can always volunteer to be a room parent. In this role, you can help the teacher with specific things he or she needs but likely won’t be interacting with the students.

Oftentimes, the room parent role can be done from home.

If your child’s main teacher doesn’t want any help, which is often the case, there are still ways to help at school. You can reach out to the specials’ teachers.

School librarian

The librarian often will welcome your help shelving books. In one of our schools, this was the only way I helped at school. My kids had a class in the library once a week.

A few times a month, I would sign up to help during my kids’ library times. I would put away dozens of books while being able to observe my child’s library time.

It was surprising to me how many students would come up to me to ask for help finding books. It was great to be able to help the kids and get to know them a little bit.

Perhaps the school librarian will identify some emerging readers you can read to.

Some librarians may ask for your help with the Scholastic Book Fair if the school has one. At the end of the school year, school librarians often inventory the books. These are great ways to help as well.

PE teacher

PE is often an area that parents don’t think about. Sometimes, the PE teacher may welcome help. He or she is usually the person who organizes a school-wide Field Day. Perhaps you can help with that.

Other times, they may be the one to organize the school walk-a-thon or jog-a-thon. Chances are, the PE teacher will need help counting and logging laps.

Like with all teachers, you can always put it out there that you are available, and when something comes up, they may contact you.

Art teacher

If your child is lucky enough to still have art in school, that’s great. It’s a program that often cut. Find out if there is any way the art teacher could use your help. Like with PE and the Librarian, the specials’ teachers typically see every student in the entire school.

The art teacher may welcome you helping in the younger grades, especially if they are working with a new medium or doing a more involved or messy project.

involved at your child's school

Parent Teacher Group

The school’s Parent Teacher Group (PTG) or Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) are parent-supported groups which help in several ways at school. Chances are, your child’s school has one of these volunteer organizations which includes all the parents/guardians and faculty.

The organization is responsible for fundraising; supporting the teachers and faculty; organizing events to create a sense of community; and bridging the gap between school and families.

The school’s PTG or PTO likely can use your help. There are so many volunteer opportunities, from one-time commitments to more frequent jobs.

Volunteering at school from home

There are opportunities to help from home, to send emails, apply for grants, order supplies for events, and more. You can even clip, count, and mail in Box Tops to raise money. Now that they are going digital, you can be the one to help everyone transition.

Helping with school events and fundraisers

If you enjoy events, chances are there is a school-wide social event fundraiser such as a fall festival, spring carnival, father-daughter dance, mother-son event, BINGO night, silent auction, etc.

You can chair or co-chair one of these events; volunteer to bring snacks or whatever they need; help set up or clean up after the event; and/or volunteer at the event itself.

Attend PTG meeting

There are likely to be Parent Teacher Group (PTG), Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent Teacher Student Group (PTSG) meetings.

These are typically monthly but some schools have them every other month or even quarterly. Attending a PTG meeting is a great place to learn more about what is happening at your child’s school.

While it may be intimating to attend a meeting for the first time, everyone will be likely be happy you are there. Even if you just want to observe and can’t commit to helping, you will be welcome.

PTG meetings and PTO meetings are not about cliques or a select group. They are for everyone and anyone who wants to know more about what’s going on at the school.

Some PTG meetings are on weekday evenings and some may be during the morning after drop off or toward the end of a school day. They try to accommodate parents’ busy schedules but realize that everyone is busy.

Know it’s impossible to pick the perfect time that works for everyone. The PTO board members who plan the meetings are working around their busy schedules as well. As volunteers, they are doing their best to get other volunteers involved.

Often the principal and faculty members are there to represent administration and the teachers. You will learn a lot at these meetings.

Whether your school has a PTG, a PTO, PTSG, or a PTA, get involved! In the cases of PTG, PTO, and PTSG, you are automatically members without having to pay any fees or do anything!

Check if your school fundraising PTA charges dues for membership.

And remember, while it seems everyone “has all this time to volunteer,” that isn’t typically the case.

Many of the most involved parents are the ones who work full time and have busy home schedules as well. Working parents and non-working parents are all welcome.

Know that you do not have to attend a PTG or PTO meeting in order to volunteer at your child’s school.

Ways PTG can use your help

Plan events at school:

What does your school’s PTO organize? There might be dances, a fall festival, movie nights, silent auction, Bingo, yearbook signing party, talent show, back to school night, carnival, end of the year celebration, and on and on.

You can help with the planning and/or assist with the event itself. No matter how much time you have, events generally have small jobs and larger tasks. You are sure to find something to help with.

Sometimes these events are for community-building; other times they are aimed at fundraising. Often, they are a combination of the two.

Raise money:

There are Box Tops for Education, gift card programs, Amazon Smile, Coke Rewards, grocery loyalty codes, and more. Perhaps your school partners with area restaurants for them to give your PTG money as a result of sales for an evening. Someone has to organize and promote all of these.

Maybe you came from a school that had a successful fundraiser that you want to be in charge of at your new school.

Do you have experience or interest in writing grants? Do you want to help with the annual school fundraiser looking for outside sponsors or raffle basket and silent auction items?

Really, there are all sorts of ways to help with fundraising. Even if you are not comfortable asking directly for money, goods or services, there are plenty of ways to be involved.

Fill a board position:

The PTG or PTO will need a President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary for sure. There are likely to be other positions as well.

Some people might be intimidated to jump right into one of these roles; however, it’s likely everyone will be glad if you volunteer to do one.

Depending on the board terms, many positions are only for one year. There is turnover every year.

Be a committee chair:

Some schools may include other other positions as board positions. However, more likely is the PTO will have committee chairs.

A committee chairperson will hold a position in which you are in charge of something specific. They all involve different levels of volunteer commitment.

Some examples of one-time events include:

  • Spring carnival, fall festival, bingo night, auction, spaghetti dinner, sock hop, or other event
  • Holiday shop
  • Annual fundraising campaign

Other chair positions can be for ongoing roles, such as:

  • Communications
  • Donations
  • Outside events
  • School events
  • Staff appreciation
  • Yearbook
  • Website management

Being in any of these positions doesn’t mean you have to do all of the responsibilities yourself. Everyone knows moms are busy.

Ultimately, it will be up to you to see everything through to fruition; however, depending on the position, you will likely have other people helping.

Volunteer as needed:

Give your contact info to the person in charge of volunteers. In this way, when there is a need for help, they will can call you. If your schedule permits, you can agree to help. If not, that’s okay too.

Support teachers and staff:

The PTG or PTO may do special meals or snacks for the staff during test days or conferences, or Teacher Appreciation Week.

Bring new ideas:

Do you have an idea? Bring it to someone on the board or talk about it at the next PTG meeting.

One of our schools started with just a few small events and ways to fundraise, and now has blossomed into having many more traditions, thanks to new people who brought new ideas.

Ways to help at school

After school clubs

Maybe you volunteer to help with the school’s student council or other special interest club, like the school newspaper, math club, or yearbook.

No matter what your talents, there is likely a group that would benefit from an adult mentor.

Office help

You can offer your assistance to the hard-working office staff. Maybe you can help sort out old files or make and distribute copies.

Resource teachers

Does your child see special resource teachers for math, speech, help with reading, or for the school’s gifted program? You can reach out to that person to offer your assistance.

Many schools welcome adults to read one-on-one with students or to help with math, especially in the younger grades.

School garden

Start a school beautification program. Take care of the plants. Start a garden.

Volunteer at your child’s school

No matter what your interest, time and talents, chances are there will be something you can do to volunteer in some capacity at your child’s school.

You will meet new people and get to help out in any way that suits your interests. There are many ways to volunteer at school as well as helping out from home.

Your kids will be grown way too soon. Embrace this time in your life and volunteer if you can. You will be helping your school community and feel more a part of it as well.

Hello, my name is Paula, and my kids have been in more schools than I care to admit. I have tons of experience with moving, being new to schools, making new friends, and keeping in touch with friends I no longer get to see regularly. I am excellent at adapting to new situations.

In addition, I was on the PTO and PTG boards at two of my kids’ schools. I’ve made thousands of copies, decorated teacher doors, collected for teacher gifts, baked cookies, sold tickets at school events, made class raffle baskets, and cleaned up after events. 

Also, I’m exceptionally proud of the good people I am raising. Learn more about me and my contributions to socialmum.com. 

Have a Plan for Your Day for Your Spare Time and Moments Alone

make a plan for the day

When you have a plan for your day, you will feel so much better. Even if you don’t exactly follow it, when you have a few unexpected minutes, you will know what to do.

Do you ever find yourself with spare time?

As a mom, you know these moments are rare.

The very occasional times it happens, it’s easy to fritter it away on social media and other pursuits leaving you feeling like you wasted your time.

Planning out your spare moments will enable you to be more productive throughout your day.

According to Parents.com, effective busy moms should schedule time to relax.

Plan for your day

So how do you do it?

You don’t need to be super-organized. It’s not essential to write everything down or schedule your day to the minute or even the hour.

Figure out what time you have

Start by thinking of chunks of time you have, even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes. Some examples might be:

  • Waking up earlier than everyone in your house
  • Waiting in the car pickup line at school
  • After the kids go to bed
  • During nap time

Maybe you find yourself with an extra 20 minutes in the mornings now that your kids are making their own lunches.

Perhaps your husband decides to take your kids to lunch and a movie, and you find yourself home alone for a few hours.

make a plan for the day

Maybe you work on your blog or work from home and your time to work on it is when your kids nap — if you can be so lucky.

What to do with that time?!

So many times, we use and waste our precious time trying to figure out exactly what to do.

Oftentimes, we end up using and wasting all that glorious time just trying to figure out something to do. We might start and stop many different tasks.

We are surprised when that 15-20 minutes or hour or two hours is over. It’s a terrible feeling when we don’t feel like we used that time wisely.

Remember, when you have a plan for your day, you can maximize unexpected spare moments.

Your most productive times

Think about your most productive times.

For many of us, that’s in the morning. Maybe you aren’t an early riser and appreciate any sleep you can manage. So for you, your productive time may be after your kids get on the bus or after you drop them off at school.

For others, it might be after everyone goes to sleep and the house is quiet.

Know your most productive times where you can get work and more difficult tasks done without distractions.

Use your least productive times, like when you are tired, for things like Facebook and other social media.

Chores and responsibilities

When you have a free 10 minutes, it’s really easy to go room to room, trying to figure out something to do.

But often, the kids are playing online, and you’ve already made dinner. What to do?

Have a plan for chores that take just a few minutes, five minutes, or 10 minutes.

Chores are great things to do when your kids are around because you won’t mind if you are interrupted. Really, who wants to clean?

Can you quickly wipe down the floors in your kitchen? Can you throw in a load of laundry? With five minutes, you can wipe down the bathroom, dust, or sort through mail.

Whip out the vacuum when you’ve got a little bit longer.

Paying bills, working from home, etc.

You want to plan for more involved tasks when your kids are occupied or at school. You don’t want to be distracted and take out your frustration on them.

Waiting in the pickup line at school

Some parents pick up their kids from school everyday.

Assuming there are 180 school days, if you wait in the car pick up line for 10 minutes a day, that’s 1,800 minutes.

That’s 30 hours in a school year you will be just sitting there!

What can you do with that time? What’s your plan?

Can this be your Facebook time? Maybe this is a time to read. Can you do bills, make a meal plan, write out a shopping and grocery list? You can even use this time to plan your day and week. According to timemanangementninja.com, 30 minutes of planning saves you exponentially more time.

Perhaps you want to simply close your eyes and center yourself for a few moments.

plan for your day

Planning spare minutes

There are many minutes each week that are like this. They are unaccounted for. While they seem insignificant, over time, they really add up.

Some people have great success planning their day the night before. Others think of generalized things they need to do.

A great system is to have a sheet of paper.

Make separate headings for tasks you can complete in 5 minutes or less, 10 minutes or less, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and one hour.

As you think of things you need to do, log them in one of these sections.

In this way, when you find yourself sitting in front of the computer and have 10 uninterrupted minutes, you will know what you can do and be that much more productive.

Log your to-do’s in one place

Too often, we log our shopping lists, to do’s, and other reminders in notebooks, scrap pieces of paper, our daily calendar, notes on the back of a receipt, in our phones and on the computer.

We have multiple lists in many different places.

It’s human nature to write or type things down when we think of them — so we don’t forget. But it’s important to have some type of system for this.

The best tip is to log your to-do’s and make your lists in one place.

Of course, once you find out the system that works best for you, it might not always be practical. So throughout your day, when you’re on the go, you can type them out in your phone or write them in a small notebook you carry around.

Then later transfer them to a notebook or calendar each evening. No matter what, the goal is to have one master list, in one place.

There’s nothing more stressful than having notebooks, scrap pieces of paper, notes on your phone and on the computer.

It just adds to the chaos and stress and takes away from our productivity.

Productive moms plan for spare moments

Moms have endless tasks. It’s usually very difficult to get ahead with something in our lives.

Usually, we are doing all we can to keep up. In the meantime, we just keep crossing stuff off our to-do lists.

Have a plan for your day or some idea of what you can do when you find yourself with unexpected spare minutes.

You will feel better in control of your time, be more accomplished and productive, feel more rested, and will likely be happier at the end of the week.

Just for Today, I Will Not Nag My Child

stop nagging

All I do is nag my child.  I do not want to be this kind of mom. My time with my child is precious. And it’s limited, especially during the school year when he is gone for hours, then comes home to activities, homework, and sometimes, chores.

My few opportunities to have “quality moments” with my tween are rushed. It starts in the morning when I open his blinds and nudge him awake, sometimes losing patience.

Then, I’m hurrying him to make and/or eat his breakfast. Not 10-15 minutes later, I’m rushing him to get dressed, brush his teeth and fill his water bottle.

I’m likely mad he didn’t start making his lunch the night before.

Tired of being a nag

While I’m not meaning to, I am nagging him about waking up earlier, or I’m stressing out and telling him to make his lunch the night before.

It’s too late for this wisdom — there’s nothing he can do about it now, right in this moment — but I can’t stop myself from saying all of these negative things.

stop nagging

Sometimes I’m rushing him to put everything in his backpack.

I’m want him to remember to include his homework, and possibly his band instrument and PE uniform, and anything else he needs.

Typically, I’m not even giving him time to remember any of these things on his own. My comments are reflexive.

Even as they are coming out of my mouth, I can’t stop myself from saying them.

And these are on days that I drive him to school.

Everything gets even more harried on days he has to be ready 40 minutes earlier to take the bus to school.

And yes, of course he should go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. More on that later when I end my day with more nagging.

Well-meaning parents nag

Parents know this feeling.

We want our kids to be prepared for their school day.

We want them to eat and drink, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, and go to school clean and prepared.

All of this “reminding” is to help them be successful. It’s for them, not us. Still, it’s so negative.

When did this change happen?

When did I stop letting my kid be a kid?

How did it happen that most all of my interactions with my child involve me correcting him, nagging him, or reminding him to do something?

Remember when our kids were babies, toddlers and preschoolers? Even when they were in their early elementary school years, I never nagged and complained at them.

Everything they did deserved praise and encouragement. I was offering positive reinforcement… always.

When and why did I stop?

Being a nag throughout the day

Try as I might not to do it, my nagging continues when I see my child again, after school.

Sometimes I pick up my middle schooler from school and sometimes he takes the bus. Either way, after a few lackluster, dead-end answers to my questions about his day, I start in with the stress.

What homework do you have? What is due tomorrow? Do you have any tests or quizzes to study for? Remember, you have soccer practice at 7pm.

It goes on and on.

Middle school-aged students already have so much going on with their changing bodies and brains.

It’s a challenging time in their lives with new routines and increased responsibilities in school. They are dealing with new social dynamics and social stresses.

Why can’t I be a little bit more lenient and gentle with him now?

Stressed out kids

Kids have so many opportunities today. This brings on several challenges.

It’s our culture and society to be busy and to over-schedule ourselves and our kids.

And it’s not wrong to want to keep kids engaged in activities for exercise and/or learning. Especially in this age of electronics and how online pursuits can get out of control quickly, this is more important that ever.

We know that part of the reason we nag is because there simply isn’t always enough time to do everything we need to do.

But when did we go from thinking everything our child did was wonderful to becoming a nag?

Even when it was really hard, I was positive in front of and to my kids.

Ways to stop nagging

As the years go faster with my kids, I know I need to make a change.

I am going to try to stop lecturing and nagging my kids so much. I need them to start learning to deal with the consequences and take responsibility for their own time and decisions.

Maybe I can start with one or two gentle reminders.

Even better, I am going to sit down with my son and explain how I don’t like how I’m always nagging him.

I will explain how I’m going to let go a bit more.

I’ll let him know I will make mistakes and will probably still nag, often. However, I’ll be working on it.

Letting kids take ownership

In the meantime, I’m going to give him ownership of his situation.

I will talk with him about his chunks of time — before school, after school, and before bed – and what he needs to get done. I’ll ask him what he thinks he needs to get done before offering my opinions.

Realistically, I know I can’t (and won’t) back off completely. But I can lessen the reins.

I’m imagining he will rise to the occasion, at least some of the time.

He will at least start to learn to rely on himself — and not me — to control his time and the outcome… his destiny.

This destiny being that perhaps he is late for school one day. Or maybe his destiny will be that he didn’t finish his homework and has to wake up early the next morning to finish it.

Of course I want to remind him about personal hygiene and getting good grades. I want to make sure he eats healthy foods and gets enough sleep. This is where it gets challenging — because all of these things are really for his own good.

That’s what makes it really difficult to not nag your kids.

Nagging at night

When I cringe the most is when I’m nagging at my son to go to bed. It crushes me when he’s reading a book, and I am getting angry that he’s up late.

Most likely, I’m telling him to brush and floss his teeth without even asking him or checking his toothbrush to see if he already has.

We’ve barely spent any time together all day. And now to end the day and our time together, I’m usually negative. I’m usually tired and stressed out myself.

I don’t want to come off as mean, especially to my son, who I love more than anything.

But I do.

And the irony is I want so much for him to be rested enough to have a good day tomorrow, that I’m being negative with him at that moment.

Ways to not be a nag

So, the goals: Be more patient.

Discuss expectations.

Be there when he falls but help him back up.

(Truly, I can go on and on…. I have lots of work to do in this department!)

Be kinder and gentler.

Take 5 seconds before speaking to really think about what I want to say.

Say more positive reinforcing things.

I can pick my battles, allowing myself only one or two nags per day. (How fun it will be to prioritize my most important nags!)

The great news is I have lots of room for improvement. Just like I want to be kinder to my kids, I will learn to ease up on myself as well. Things usually work out, no matter how much or little I intervene.

Here’s to less nagging!

Have you learned to curb your nagging? Please leave your tips in the Comments.

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