Summer Plans

Summer used to be synonymous with time-off and relaxation. But times have changed and many parents now feel a sense of dread and overwhelm around the unstructured time that comes during the summer—especially after spending over a year at home. Today, we are talking about finding balance this summer. 

Summertime. It used to be synonymous with relaxation and time off, but the past generation has seen a shift. There are many parents who dread summer because it feels like a lot of open unstructured time. That can feel scary, especially after spending over a year, mostly at home. So you may be overwhelmed thinking ahead to summer, to the abundance of options for camps, vacations, the desire to want to do all the things, and the fear of being home with bored kids, then you're not alone.

Summertime, which often means more unstructured time. Kids are out of school. Schedules are changing. There can be an abundance of options, many of which are very expensive. So we're going to talk about that today. We're going to talk about setting yourself up for success this summer finding balance, and maybe even a little peace and harmony along the way. But before we get into that, I want to tell you a little bit about the special offer that I'm running on. Simple Families Foundations. If you're not familiar with foundations, it's my Ato Z approach to simplifying the family. We start off in the home, simplifying the stuff, the wardrobes, both yours and the kids, the toys, the kitchen, we simplify meal times to help set up more structure to make mealtimes happier for the whole family. Then we move into simplifying parenting. So how do you parent with less fear, less brush, less distraction and less refereeing.

This program is completely self-paced. So you can focus on the things that you want to focus on on the timeline that works for you for the first week of may starting May 1st Simple Families Foundations will be 40% off. That brings the price to $147. And there's an option to split that into two payments. If that works better for you, not only will it be 40% off, but also get some special bonus offers, including a tour of our new speller house for people who have been curious about downsizing and what that looks like, you'll be able to see a tour of our previous larger house and how we've made the shift into a space. That's about 30% of the size. In addition to the discounted price and the new home tour. There are other bonuses that you'll get. If you buy during this special offer, you're going to get a live coaching session to welcome you and help you get started.

You'll get the independent play tool kit, which will definitely come in handy this summer and you'll get the positive parenting audio mini course. And again, that runs for the whole first week of may. So if you're looking for a mother's day gift for yourself, this might be the one go to That's Now let's talk about summer. I got a message from Jacqueline this week, and here's what she wrote. She said, I'm a stay at home. Mom of two little boys, ages five and two. I've been struggling a lot lately with feeling left out of summer plans for my kids. We aren't really doing much at all. My five-year-old will have a weekend sports camp and that's it. I know many parents who are setting their kids up for camps and swim lessons and taking big vacations, etc.

I just can't help, but feel like I'm not doing enough for my children. Any advice would be helpful thanks. Jacqueline you aren't alone in this I know that many parents fear summertime, because it means so much unstructured time with their kids. Now, if you have two parents who work full time, getting full-time childcare in the summer or full-time summer camp is a necessity, but for those of us with flexible schedules or those of us who stay at home planning for summer can feel complicated and we can end up feeling like Jacqueline feeling like we're not doing enough. If we don't keep our kids busy, 100% of the time. I think that these fears around summer and the dread of what are we going to do with our kids this summer is directly related to the pressure that we put on ourselves to be our kids entertainers all the time.

We feel like good parents keep their kids busy, good parents entertain their kids all the time. Good parents provide activities for their kids. The truth is doing all of these things can be incredibly exhausting, incredibly expensive, and can actually take away some opportunities from our kids. The research shows us that the abundance of structured activities for our kids actually takes away opportunities for them to build executive functioning skills. And when I say executive functioning skills, I mean the ability to plan out and coordinate their day to coordinate their time and schedule. In many ways, we as adults act as main managers for our children, especially in the early years as they're growing and as the brain managers, we're doing a lot of that heavy lift in the executive functioning work for them in many ways, acting as our kids' brain managers and time managers in the early years it's necessary.

But it's something that we should work to slowly fade off of when we keep our kids on a constant rigid schedule, where they go from one place to the next, every minute of the day is accounted for. We're not here giving them a lot of opportunity to learn how to plan out and use that time for themselves. So we need to give them the opportunity [inaudible] to practice these much needed skills around how to use your time at a manage your time out of plan out your day out to face downtime, without fear, but I've also seen the way that technology has taken some of those responsibilities off of our kids as well. I recently got two iPod shuffles, brand new from our local buy, sell trade, free group, whatever it was. So I got two free brand new iPod shuffles, and they're old, but they were new in the package.

And I thought these might be great for my kids to listen to music and podcasts without a screen. So I set them up and started playing around with them, myself. And I immediately thought to myself, well, how are they going to know what they're listening to? And how are they going to know how to find the song that they want to listen to? I found myself kind of with the screenless iPod shuffle, because I had to think harder when I used it. And then I reflected back to when I had a disc disc man, is that what it's called? You know, where you, the CD player, the portable CD player that you carried around, or maybe even a portable tape player that you carried around and you only had what, maybe 12 to 15 songs available to you at any given time. I used to love to burn CDs and make my own playlist for songs, especially when I was, as a teenager, I had my favorite burnt CDs, and I knew what number my favorite songs were.

So I wanted to listen to like Ace Of Base the sign I needed to go to song number four, if I wanted to listen to Destiny's Child, I would go to song number eight. And if I didn't remember the number I would just flip through and listen to the beginning of each to find the one I was looking for, I didn't have a screen to manage my music. So I had to rely on my brain to organize it for me, screens, make it really easy to not have to use, use our brains quite as much the same goes for screen time. In my time childhood, there was actually a lot of executive functioning that went into planning screen time. I had to remember what days the shows I wanted to watch Ron, I had to remember and plan for the time I had to watch the clock.

And if I didn't, if I missed my favorite show, then I experienced the natural consequences of missing my favorite show. I did not blame my mom. I had to share the screen with my siblings, which meant we had to problem solve and use conflict management skills to figure out who was gonna watch. What, when technology has definitely led our kids to rely more on immediate gratification and has taken away some of those simple opportunities to plan and to coordinate and to schedule. So be thinking about that as you're going into summertime and facing unstructured time with your kids, there is benefit to unstructured time and giving kids an opportunity to plan out the way that they spend their own time, not just with screens and with music, but with everything as they grow, those are skills that they need. And if we do all the planning and the coordinating for them, they don't get the opportunity to do that for themselves.

So how can we use some of this unstructured open time in the summers to give our kids practice and managing boredom, managing downtime, scheduling things that they enjoy negotiating with siblings. It may seem like unstructured time is empty, open time, where your kid isn't really benefiting, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Not only does unstructured time give opportunities for executive functioning skills to build, but it also gives opportunities for creativity, opportunity for relaxation and opportunity for movement. When kids are just running around in the backyard or running around on a playground, they're moving their bodies in new and different ways that help their brains to grow and develop. So when it comes to scheduling out your summer, don't let fear drive your choices. Don't be afraid that keeping your kids home without a lot of scheduled activities is a bad thing for your kids, because there is a lot of potential for your kids to still learn and grow at home.

If you're feeling a lot of summer dread or the sound of having your kids home for a summer is overwhelming to you, especially if you've been home for over a year. Now, try to do some reflecting. Sometimes we can feel really overwhelmed by parenting because we're putting so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect at it and to do all the things. And the result is we can get burnout. So are you feeling burnout as a parent because of the pressure that you've put on yourself to get it all right, all the time, we're going to take a 62nd word from today's sponsor. And when I come back, I'm going to give you some tangible ideas on how to have a little bit of a slower summer. That is more than enough for your kids. The sponsor for today is Pandora. With mother's day upon us. You may be looking for gifts for the special women in your life. Pandora has gifts for every mother. My mother would tell you that her favorite gift from her children was when we came together and collaborated and bought her a Pandora charm bracelet that represented each of her children and her grandchildren. It's a gift that we've been able to add onto, and that she has grown to love more with time. Let your mom know that you'll always be by her side with a message of love that she can wear every day.

Thank the mom in your life for always being there with a sparkling gift from Pandora jewelry, go to to start shopping or find a store near you. That's You can shop online or in a store near you. Okay? Let's talk more practically about planning a slower simpler summer. This is going to look entirely different for every family, depending on your needs, your work schedules, your budget. So you have to find the balance that fits you, not what fits your neighbors or your kid's best friend. Don't get caught up in the comparison game. Our family is doing a mix this summer. My schedule is flexible, but I do still have a lot of work that I need to get done. And in order to really get anything done, I do need to get my kids out of the house.

So my kids are going to do a couple of weeks of summer camp and I'll plan my schedule accordingly so that I can plan the bulk of it during the time that they're going to be doing those weeks of summer camp. But we'll also have a handful of weeks where we have nothing planned, which I admit does feel kind of scary, but I know that it's good for all of us. The first thing that you need to do when you're planning a simpler summer is to set a budget. Because even if you're not doing summer camps, if you're not doing expensive activities, there's still a cost. You're probably going to be buying more food, probably going to be going to get ice cream a little more often. So setting a budget for both entertainment and just general activities can help to guide your planning. How much money do you have to spend on this summer?

That number is going to have a big impact on the way that you spend your time. And that's okay. I have found as I've started talking more openly about that, the fact that we are on a budget, the more open that my friends are, and also talking about that with me. So I feel less alone. I feel completely comfortable, declining an invitation to an activity or an event if it's not in the budget, if it's too expensive. And I'll say that, sorry, that's not in our budget this month, but it sounds like a lot of fun. It can feel taboo to admit that. But like I said, once you start saying that to your friends, they're going to feel more comfortable saying it to you. And then you might find you all have less guilt around the fact that you don't have an endless supply of cash to do all the things that you dream of with your kids.

And that's okay. And as we talked about earlier in this episode, that might actually even be good for your kids. So number one, set a budget, number two, embrace boredom. And the fact that it is enough for you to be home without a plan, it's scary, but there are learning opportunities within it. I find that when I'm home without a plan, we really benefit from starting off the days with movement. If we get out and move our bodies in the morning, go for a walk, go for a bike ride, go for a little hike, whatever it is, moving our bodies in the morning helps to balance us out for the rest of the day. When we start our days with screen time, usually it doesn't end well, speaking of screen time, schedule it into your days. If you're going to start your days with some movement, maybe you move in the mornings, you have lunch and then screen time comes after lunch.

So your kids know when to expect it every day. You don't have to deal with them begging for it every day. Even if you are not scheduling out and pre-planning your entire week, you can still outline it and put some ideas on paper. I love to sketch out the whole week. Some of you have seen me do this on Instagram before, but I use what I call the family bullet journal, which is each day, I'll draw little pictures to show my kids the things that we're going to be doing. Whether it's a little picture of a tree to signify a hike, a person swimming. If we're going to go to the pool, whatever it is so they can visualize and see what's to come. And also they can draw an add in little things as they get older. If you go to, all one word, you can print out the one that I use those days and weeks where you don't have a firm schedule, it's even more important to make sure that movement is a big part of the way you're spending your time.

If you are someone that likes to have a little more structure and organization, and you have a lot of weeks off, you might pick to theme your weeks. Maybe one week you have a biking week. One week you have a hiking week. One week you have a swimming week. And on the biking week, you plan out a couple of mornings where you pick a new destination. Maybe you've been packed the bikes up in the car and try out new areas. Then in the afternoons, you print out some free printable coloring pages of kids on bikes. And then maybe you watch a movie about biking, check out some YouTube videos on the tour, de France, take your kids outside and get a closer look at their bikes, have them turn the pedals and then watch the gears. Watch how all the pieces come together and work.

Pull the brake mechanism and point to where the brakes pinch the tires to stop the tire. To look at that. You've got some movement, you've got some science, some art, some history, some geography, all surrounding movement. Again, it's not going to keep your kids busy every minute of the day, but it might help you to have some ideas of different things that you can do with them. Now, if you are going to do a few weeks or maybe a lot of weeks of summer camp, something that I've done in the past is schedule my kids alternating weeks of summer camp. Maybe my daughter goes one week and then my son goes another week. That way they have a little break from each other. I have a little one-on-one time with them. And I find that I actually am more productive at home if I just have one kid at home.

So don't feel like you have to send all your kids all to camp all at the same time, the same number of weeks. You can definitely mix it up. If that works for you could be a good way to save money, to get some one on one time with your kids and to give your kids a break. If you feel like they need a break from each other after a while, another freeway to give your kids a little break from each other, if you do think they need some space is to arrange for traits. I have a friend who has kids similar ages to mine, so I can send my oldest to play with her oldest and I'll take her youngest to play with my youngest. That way neither of us are taking on extra kids and our kids get a novel play date for the day.

And lastly, I want to encourage you to ask for help from your community. In generations, past kids would just go and spend the summer hanging out with the grandparents during the day while the parents worked or of the aunts and uncles, or with cousins. Many of us don't live near our extended families now. So that makes this hard. But if you do have extended family or close friends within your community that enjoy spending time with your kids, don't be afraid to ask them for help. I know that a lot of us feel a lot of pressure to socialize our kids, which usually we associate that with giving them peer aged social interactions. So we may think that sending them to their grandparents house during the day in the summer, isn't enough because they don't have other kids to play with, but that's not true. There are a lot of benefits in spending time with other adults.

So if that's an option for you, if you have extended family members or people within your community, other adults that enjoy spending time with your kids, that is a great resource, use them. They may enjoy spending time with your kids as much as your kids enjoy spending time with them. So don't underestimate that. So if you're feeling like your summer plans are not enough rest easy, there are so many different options of things to do and things not to do. Your kids are going to be okay, plan a few fun things and embrace the downtime. The variety is important. I hope you've enjoyed this episode. I hope it's been helpful. And you'll think critically about planning your summer and inviting in a little bit more space, a little bit more downtime. If you can, if you want to take advantage of the special offer and Simple Families Foundations that'll be running for the first week of may go to If you've enjoyed this episode and you want to share it with friends, take a picture of yourself, listening to it and post it up to your Instagram stories and make sure you tag me that way I can reshare it to thanks for tuning in and have a good one.

Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.