Summer Thoughts

Some summer thoughts one hour before school gets out (I've had the three older ones get out of school over the last month, these are the grade schoolers out in an hour and then everyone will be home!)

One down, five to go:
Isaac graduated and it was a long ceremony but a wonderfully beautiful day and he was so happy but it all went too quickly for him I think-he was thinking of all the people he never got to say goodbye to.  I love that he knew so many (most?) of the students in his graduating class. He moved out and came home the next day with just a small car load of belongings which I love.  He told me he must have inherited my throw-it-out gene because he only wants to keep the bare minimum.


It is always been an adjustment for me to do "summer".  Usually I end up lamenting to my mom on the phone about it all and begging for advice about my feelings of being overwhelmed.  I think it's just that hard and fast change, and then we eventually get into the flow. 

The last two summers have been so hard-the stress of managing the irresponsible and extremely late running contractors who had promised to be finished by May but were here till September two summers ago left me exhausted and then Jeff had major work stress last summer and they were both a blur and by the end of last summer I never felt so exhausted in my life, I felt like I was hanging on by a thin thread and that is NO fun most especially in the summer, my favorite time of the year.

This summer will be different-stressors all gone, good plans ahead.  Some years are just like that I guess-those are the hills and valleys of life, those hills sure make you appreciate the valleys.

I have two grade school kids who want to work and earn money and I have a weekly consistent straight-forward job list for them to complete each week with the promise of $10  (I usually don't pay for chores and don't do allowance but I'm trying this for this summer).  I also have a list of extra paying jobs to sign up for-window washing (mine are filthy!), garage clean-out, attic clean-out, etc. -things I haven't been able to get to since Janey has been born.  Some weekly jobs are: beds made, clothes picked up, rooms cleaned, house vacuumed, dog taken care, garage straightened, pots and garden watered-the things I can't keep up with by myself which sometimes make me overwhelmed and therefore crabby or a tad resentful I've handed off.  I'm giving 3 responsibilities to each, all summer long, to make it simple and easy.

They both have asked to do some short fun local camps with friends and I think it will work well this summer-they are excited about that.  Some years were "no way" to any outside commitments, and other years it just works so well to break up the summer with some socializing and planned activities. 

Two oldest traveling/working (Isaac will be in Europe backpacking most of summer and Abbey in August in Ireland) and Matt is working also.

Computer bare minimum if at all, Ipads all gone, TV is off all summer.  It just works so much better around here this way. Something about just shutting down that possibility and clearing out brains.

I am working out at 6:30 a.m. and getting my head/house in order then.

I have a few good books to read thanks to a friend whose mother gives her all her book club books, and they are always exactly my cup of tea.  We'll see if I even get to one, but I want to. 

I promised Andrew a mom trip (he's been waiting for this for years and years) to Chicago for an overnight. We can't wait!

I want to take each kid to breakfast or lunch this summer for one-on-one time.

I want to go to the darn farmer's market a few blocks away that I only hit once or twice in the last couple years!

I want to go "home" for a day and go shopping by myself at the outlets and see my parents and eat with my best friend at Guido's-the best pizza on the planet that I absolutely must have at least once a year (thank God I don't live closer, I'd eat it every night.)

I want to eat lunch with Jeff once every couple weeks by myself. (I am lucky to have an older sibling as a babysitter.)

I am prioritizing cooking  and meal planning all summer, simple and easy but want to try some new things. Since I want to use the computer only when totally necessary I am going to be using my good old-fashioned cookbooks and maybe a few more of those "magaziney-type" seasonal cookbooks to help me along and keep things fun-with the hope of compiling another of our favorites together in a Part Two.

I'm so over Whole30 by the way. I have slowly added things back in but am trying to be very cautious about how much I eat and snacking etc.  I don't want to gain the weight back (it was so good for that, and for "resetting" my system), but I want to eat "easier", if that makes sense.  Like a whole vat of fresh strawberries-a few weeks away from that!

And photos!  I am keeping my camera on the counter and I promised myself I would be better, it only takes a second.



  1. Sounds really really nice. I live in Chicago! Feel free to email for any questions/tips.

  2. I sure love your idea of having the TV off all summer and staying off of the computer. I am way too attached to my phone, having access to the Internet at all times. I'm a SAHM. I have a 9 yr old, 6 year old, and 9month old. Today was the last day of school. And They need my focus and I don't want to miss out. Its SO hard for me. Do you have any advice and tips you can share? I always enjoy your words of wisdom on mothering. If you have time.. My email is lfredlund09@gmail.com. thank you!

    1. Hi Laura! I think having no apps on your phone (I have Pandora, Spotiify and Map My Run only in addition to the stuff that the IPhone comes with and I can't delete) helps and leaving phone plugged in like a "real" phone helps also (except in car.). Sometimes it's about establishing new habits and going cold turkey for awhile-just allowing yourself to check only in morning for texts and emails. Also asking yourself with texting if you would actually call with that message and if not, not important enough. I hope that helps!

  3. Sarah - your summer list sounds wonderful! It has inspired me to make a list like that, too!! The kids are growing up too quickly - I feel like I am missing so much because I am distracted by the TV, computer, phone, etc. I think I may make "limited screen time" a priority this summer!!

  4. I can't believe Isaac is out of college! I started folowing your blog when he was in high school--has it already been 4 or 5 years?
    Sounds like you have summer well planned and I love the no iPads/TV thing. I wish I'd done that with my kids only back then it would have just been no TV.
    You are a great Mom!

  5. Love these ideas! You always motivate me to get back in check with prioritizing, organizing, planning, simplifying & ENJOYING life with my family. Thank you!!! Xo

  6. Sarah...love this post. The thing that stresses me most about summer is chores. I like your idea of getting up early and getting things in order first. I think that will make me a little more sane. Getting my kids to all do chores is my least favorite thing. A few of of them drag their feet, taking all day. I HATE it. However, I do need the help and I think it's important to have them work. I would LOVE a post specifically devoted to how you keep the house clean and how you involve the kids in the summer. I need details, Sarah! Help! I have kids that are similar ages to yours. What about the kids that have full time jobs? What are their responsibilities at home? Are your kids naturally motivated to get up and get their chores done, do they have consequences if they drag their feet? Do they fight you about electronics? I don't allow many games and whatnot...but Netflix has taken over and I need to cut back the TV time for sure. I would love to hear more details about what exactly you expect from the kids and what their chores are. One more area that is difficult for most moms I would imagine...food. I feel like kids are eating ALL DAY LONG. With some kids coming in late, sleeping in, the little kids on another schedule... it seems the kitchen is always open and no one is hungry at meal time. This makes me LESS motivated to cook real meals. How do you run your kitchen in the summer? Ok, I imagine you are in the thick of things right now...but in your "spare time" (ha ha) these are just a few extra blog post ideas. Ha ha

    1. Hi Natalie-I don't know if I have any answers, because I change what I do every summer, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I think you should do whatever is EASIEST for you. I know there are times when I felt so much pressure to have this perfect chore system (thanks Pinterest) and this NEVER worked for me, or we all would be over it in a month, or I'd be constantly mad at the kids. Keep it super simple and easy and straightforward, for me the more complicated the great fail rate. :)
      For older kids-if older kids are working a lot (my two oldest are) I don't "require" anything-that doesn't mean that I don't ask them to watch the younger ones, or set the table, or put away clothes, that just means they don't have a list. My 17 year old, who isn't getting many hours, has a short list (3 things that change every day) to do, and yes, I have to remind him, and sometimes get really firm (mean?) like "do it now!" and then he will. I haven't done consequences yet. Chores exs: vacuum out my car, water the garden, cut the lawn, etc for him. For the Andrew (12) and Patrick (8) I did the same three every day-besides keeping room picked up, Andrew has to keep the garage straightened (I told him once a week this is fine, but really well) and make sure the dog always has food, water and is in the cage at night.) Patrick has to keep room picked up and vacuum the whole house once a week and water the pots every day or every other day.
      We don't have Netflix (well maybe my two oldest do but not through me). For TV, my younger kids always have to ask me to watch TV first. I say no often, or I'll say 'don't even ask me.' We don't have video games, Gameboys, etc., because I learned the hard way it was a never ending battle that isn't worth the energy.
      Food-oh yes, I remember when my kids were transitioning to teens who didn't have my set schedule etc, it was hard. I eventually just let that go. If I am fixing breakfast for littler ones and you are around, I'll fix it for you. If you wake up late, want to eat lunch at 2, you fix yourself something, (cereal, pb and j) clean up and put dishes in sink. And yes this means that my kitchen is never "closed and clean" all summer long, and no one cleans up like I do, but I just deal with it. Waking up in the morning to a spotless kitchen (heaven) is something that is long gone for me as someone who worked late came in and fixed leftovers, etc past my bedtime. I think summer is survival mode for us moms of lots of kids, and wide age ranges-just do whatever is easiest for you and give yourself time for trial and error to figure it out. I hope this helps!

  7. Love all this! So I would love to know how you handle with your older kids, snapchat, Instagram, musically etc. through out the summer. These stupid apps the kids want are killing me. So far my rule has been when you turn 13 you can have Instagram. Now my to be freshman wants snapchat. Not sure how to monitor how much time they spend on this stuff each day?? Don't want it to swallow up summer.
    Thanks- mom of 5 with 4 girls!!!

    1. Hi Paula-My two oldest (college graduate and college sophomore) have these, and my junior in high school has them on his Ipad that the high school requires (but is not in use during the summer). Honestly, do what is easiest for you and what you think is right-and it sounds like you'd rather not have your to-be freshman on it-so stick to your guns. I remember wobbling about something and talking to a good friend (one of my mother mentors) and she gave me the same advice-it's always better to err on the side of strict and also you just HAVE to be confident in your decision. You are the parent, and boy can the kids wear you down, especially the teens, but just say no and mean it, there is NOTHING worthy on any of that crap and they are for sure major time suckers. Say you'll think about it and maybe consider it later but not now and don't ask me about it again. Have a wonderful summer without that argument and worry-you deserve it for sure, and your kids will be better off for it.

    2. Hey Sarah- I was wondering, along the same lines... do your oldest two also give up tv for the summer? My 19 year old (and 17 year old, too, honestly) is a netflix junkie. Just curious since you have olders too... I know I could never impose that around here, but if you do, I am curious what they do instead? I love the boundaries you set- and wish I had done more so as well. I often caved... ugh!

    3. Hi Kelly! My oldest doesn't watch much/any TV, but my daughter has Netflix on her computer and yes she watches it in her rooms at times (busy with work and friends a lot). I think it's a brain-rotting activity and she knows that, but I think at college-aged and older, they need to come into that themselves? Wish we still had one TV with 3 stations on it like in the olden' days though! :)

  8. Happy Summer! I've had a few back to back stressful summers as well. This one, I'm going to unplug, read books, get out in the sunshine, enjoy my kids, and like you, take them out on a date. I'm so excited for much needed renewal and to reconnect with my life:)

  9. Sarah, I'm a Mom of 5; we homeschool, do lots of sports/dance and also have had great success with no screen time. I am 45 and have always worked out/bought organic only, local meat only but realize that we need to drastically cut back on processed food and even a little sugar (and drink lots of water, fermented/cultured foods and more!). Have you considered juicing? After all these years we are going to get into it on a daily basis and maybe several days for "resetting". Although we are in good shape, we watched "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead", which is basically a fascinating movie about the benefits of juicing. Seems pretty simple. Our children will probably need green juice too..

  10. Happy Summer to the Most Wholesome blog that ever lived!
    that first pic of your family….wow, so pretty.:)

  11. This may help the woman who said her kids drag their feet on chores. We had the same problem. We do allow screen time for one hour in the afternoon. Sometimes an hour and a half. But it's at a set time and I use it as my "break" in the afternoon. Any kids who had their chores done before lunch gets screen time. Any others get extra quiet time in their rooms to read or to finish their chores if needed. Then I try REALLY hard not to nag or remind or be mean about it. If the chores and piano are done on time, they get screen time. If not, they don't. They don't have a lot of chores, so with any effort at all they can be done by noon.

  12. I've been away SO long from reading blogs---but you know you've always been my fave! It was so refreshing to read this post and "hear" your voice again! Happy Summer to you---sounds like you have some great plans! :)

  13. Sarah,
    I always love your book suggestions. Any new recommendations?

  14. Congrats on your oldest graduating. What a milestone! My oldest will be starting her senior year in high school in the fall. We are in the thick of college exploration. Stressful! I am excited for summer too. Your photos are wonderful. Enjoy your summer having them all under one roof! (Well after they are back from Europe that is). :)

  15. Long time reader from chicago. Come stay with us if you come inthe next 20 days. After that baby #3 hits and all bets are off. Not promising that we will be able to show you around with baby just around the corner, but we have a guest room and are near everything.