Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

The life of a mother

From messy to together, the life of a mother has it all!

I’ve been a mom for nearly 12 years now. I’ve certainly learned about the life of a mother by living it. Motherhood is filled with so many bittersweet moments, contradictions, challenges and love. And that’s what this is all about.

Sometimes and other times in the life of a mother

Sometimes I wash, dry, fold and put away laundry all in the same day.
Other times, the laundry stays in the dryer for three days before I get it out to fold.

Sometimes I prepare homemade, balanced meals to feed my family.
Other times, I order pizza or go through a fast food drive-thru.

Sometimes I have an abundance of patience for my children.
Other times, I hide in the bathroom with the door locked to regain my composure.

Sometimes I plan fun activities for our family to do.
Other times, we sit on the couch and watch YouTube videos.

Sometimes I empty the dishwasher while the dishes are still hot.
Other times, I plan lunch around disposable dishes so I don’t have to empty the dishwasher.

Sometimes I’m perfectly content as I do the same tasks over and over and over again.
Other times, I long for something different in my daily routines.

Sometimes I plan our meals for the entire week.
Other times, I have no idea what we’ll have for dinner until a half hour before dinnertime.

Sometimes I take my kids to the park or splash pad.
Other times, I struggle to be motivated to turn on the sprinkler in the backyard.

Sometimes I have my kids’ drawers organized with only clothes that fit.
Other times, we sort through stacks of too-small clothes in their drawers to find the ones that work.

Sometimes I think I’m the only one who sees a house full of chores to do.
Other times, I notice the chores my family does and appreciate them.

Sometimes I question whether I can ever be a good enough mama.
Other times, I feel like I’m rocking my motherhood journey.

Sometimes I worry I discipline too much.
Other times, I worry I don’t discipline enough.

All the time in the life of a mother

But then, there are the constants in the life of a mother.

All the time, I love my children more than the air I breathe.

All the time, I want the best for my children.

All the time, I need Jesus to give me strength.

All the time, I try my hardest, even when it may not look like it.

All the time, I want to be better and do better.

All the time, I want to be patient.

All the time, I want my children to know they are loved.

All the time, I think first of my family before myself.

All the time, I thank God for the blessing of my husband and children.

And never ever do I regret becoming a mama.

So many things at so many times

The days may be long and the years be short, but I am thankful for the mundane and hard. I’m thankful for the stressful and overwhelming. I’m thankful for the joy, the love and the sweet moments.

I cannot imagine a different life now that I have this one.

The life of a mother is so many things at so many times. I pray that I somehow enjoy the ride and have enough energy left to get through each moment and recognize it for its preciousness.

20 Lessons from having a second baby

What I learned in the year after having a second baby

I originally wrote this in January of 2014 when my son turned 1 and my daughter was 4. The year after having a second baby was a difficult for me with lots of challenges, but having my son was the best. And it’s hard for me to believe those some little ones are now 8 and 11!

My baby boy turns 1 today. Cliche as it may be, I must say that time really does fly. I mean, I feel like I seriously just found out I was pregnant. And now here we are celebrating one year. It’s been quite a year. Along the way, as always, I’ve been learning and learning. I’ve learnt about being a mom to two. I know moms with more than two children, and I commend them. But, here’s what I’ve learned this past year as a mom to two.

1. Being a mom of two is both harder and easier than I thought it would be.  

I remember when my daughter was born. The shift and adjustment to being a mom was so incredibly challenging and earth-shattering in some ways. I was as ready to be a mom as I could be. I was excited to be a mom, but actually being a mom and being responsible for this tiny, oh-so-needy person was certainly life-altering.  

However, I didn’t have to go through that when I had my son. I was already in mom mode. So, that was easier. The harder part I’m not sure was completely unexpected because I knew I’d have more work as a mom. The hardest part to me at the moment is how different my children are and how much my son is already challenging me.

2. Sometimes even I don’t put on makeup.  

I’m a makeup girl. I’m a do-my-hair girl. I have the whole shebang down to a less than 10-minute process to put on my makeup and style my hair. But, especially in the early days when my son wasn’t sleeping, even I went sans makeup. I seldom left the house. I didn’t put on makeup for a while.  

This was true for most jewelry as well. I’ve had my ears pierced since I was 18 months old. I got my second hole pierced when I was 14. For the first time ever, I had trouble with my earring holes starting to grow back over and had to work through that. Good grief!

3. It is OK for my daughter to be entertained by Disney Junior sometimes.  

In the early days, I’m not sure I could have survived without it some days. There were times I got two hours of sleep at night in the recliner before my daughter was up for her day. I let her watch an extra show (or sometimes two or three!) just so I could actually get a bit of sleep while the baby was sleeping.

4. My support team is invaluable.  

Having a second baby has made me appreciate my parents and in-laws even more. I’ve asked them for advice. I’ve accepted and asked for their help. My mother-in-law has cleaned my bathroom. My mom has done my laundry. They’ve both made us food. Granted, some of their help had to come after my surgery, but so many other times throughout this year (and always!), my parents and in-laws were there to encourage us, help us and babysit for us. It really does take a village and I’m so blessed by my village.

5. The biggest challenge to my marriage has been having kids.  

My husband and I have been together for almost 20 years. We were high school sweethearts whose relationship started with long conversations on the phone. We’ve been married for 14 years. Becoming parents has challenged us personally and relationally as well. For the first time we have to make more of an effort and be more intentional about finding time to really connect and listen to one another. We’ve had to rework our ways to communicate because we often get interrupted by little people who need things. Adding a second child added to these challenges.

6. My husband really is a good man.  

I’ve said this numerous times, but over and over I fall in love with him and appreciate him more and more. He’s settled into being a dad so very well. He’s great at it. My husband is quick to jump in and do things with the kids. He works hard to support us financially. The guy tries hard to make my life easier and do things to help me. He takes out the trash without complaining. He does gross things that I appreciate him doing (like cleaning ridiculous amounts of my hair out of the drain and dealing with plumbing issues) and can’t imagine having to deal with. Most importantly, he loves God, he loves me and he loves our babies.

7. My heart is big enough to love both of my children so completely and fully.  

Sometimes I am sure my heart will burst into a million pieces. Seeing my children interact with and love on one another and/or my husband makes it expand even more. Even just watching my son learning how to play with our dog makes me tear up sometimes. It’s almost ridiculous, but I make no apologies.

8. Time goes even faster when you’re busy with two children.  

My daughter being 4 seems like an impossibility. While her first year went by fast, my son’s has somehow gone even faster. Life is busier this time around and it just flies by. I try hard to suck it all in and appreciate all the good moments when they happen.

9. I can take both children places on my own.  

In this truth, I also have way more physical strength than I ever knew I had. We have a lot of stuff that goes with us and there’s a baby to carry and sometimes a preschooler to hang onto. Even though I’m now outnumbered in taking them places on my own, I can do it without too much trouble.

10. My children are very different and that’s OK.  

My son has had different challenges from my daughter. She struggled with eating as a newborn, but slept like a champ. He ate just fine, but felt sleep (especially at night) was optional. I figured some things would be the same for them like having the baby sleep in his Pack-and-Play bassinet in our room for the first three months or so just like his sister did. Instead, I spent three months sleeping with him on the couch so he could be propped up on his Boppy.

I hoped he would be as easy to discipline as my daughter. She is like me. Even as a baby we could just tell her no in a stern voice and she’d stop what she was doing. We do the same with my son and he looks at us, smiles then continues right on having a pool party in the dog’s water bowl. They are different. As we get to know each of them better we can better help them learn how to navigate life and learn right from wrong.

11. It’s OK to do things differently for my kids.

In my head, I want always, always, always to be fair. I want things to be the same for both children, but that’s just not reality. We had professional newborn photos taken of my son and didn’t of my daughter. I almost felt bad about it, but then I realized with just one baby I was able to do my own photo shoots easier. With two, that was more of a challenge. I don’t love him any more or her any less. It just worked that way.  

She didn’t have pizza until after she was 1. He had some a couple of weeks before his first birthday. She has had a bedtime of 8 p.m. since she was about 9 months old. He still goes to bed at 9 p.m., because it’s easier for them to be on different bedtimes and gives us a chance to have some time with just him.

12. I have to cut myself some slack.  

I need to continually remind myself of this lesson. I am still learning daily to give myself a break and remind myself that I really am doing the best I can. Being a mom to two is hard work. It’s busy work. It’s so very much. I can’t do it all. I just can’t. There will always be something left undone. I just have to make sure that the important things are done. The other stuff will fall into place.

13. My lap is big enough for two children.  

Even now that they’re both bigger, there’s still room for both of them in my lap at one time. It makes my heart happy.

14. I am a better mom to my son because of my daughter.  

I used to tease my parents that they learned the hard lessons with my older brother. He loved to push the limits as much as he could. They learned from their parenting of him, I think. However, it’s 100 percent true and it’s not a bad thing. I remember even just figuring out the best way to bathe a baby and feeling, quite frankly, a bit intimidated by it when my daughter was a baby.  

With my son, I was an old pro. I had no qualms. I am better at this mom thing because I’ve had more practice. Also, I have more perspective. I knew the newborn days really wouldn’t last forever. I knew that it would eventually get a bit easier and more fun.  

Right now as I’m struggling with a baby boy who is getting into everything, I’m reminding myself that he won’t be this way forever and will eventually learn what no means (and that my husband and I are going to need a lot of patience to get through our battles of will with this child!).

15. Having a second baby is good. Being a mom of two is very good.  

I can’t imagine life without my two children. They are so much a part of me and my life and who I am right now. They consume me. Sometimes that’s incredibly overwhelming and exhausting. Sometimes I’m just plain worn out and drained from having two little people who need so much so often.

But, it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s good! I would never be happy without them in my life now that I have them. They are perfect, frustrating, loving, demanding and hilarious all at once. My children make me laugh, they make me cry, they make me frustrated and they make me love. They keep me from getting too self-involved. Right now there’s not a huge amount of time for Stacey, but there will be again one day. And I’m sure I’ll somehow miss these days when I’m so consumed with being mom.

16. Sometimes the squeakiest wheel really does get the grease.  

Before my son was born, I read advice from other parents of two. Some parents said if you have to pick between meeting the needs of a baby and an older child, go with the older child first because he/she will remember this moment. I have done that sometimes, but other times I haven’t. It’s not always feasible. Sometimes I work like the ER at the hospital and prioritize who needs the most help first. And every so often it’s the kid who is squeaky the loudest.

17. I can survive sick children.  

Before having my son, my daughter was hardly ever sick. She’s been a healthy kid. After he was born, he had a few issues here and there. Some were accidents, like when he was a newborn and raked a fingernail down his eyeball on a Friday evening.  

But, many things started popping up when my daughter started preschool last fall. Like all parents of school-aged kids can tell you, there are so many germs that go around with school. For three months one or both of my children was sick. My husband and I were sick. And, since part of that time included my surgery recovery and our parents were here helping, our parents were sick. It was tough. It stunk. But we all survived. And I know now how to help a baby through a cold more than I did before because I hadn’t dealt with all that much.

18. I have to learn to let go of my to-do list sometimes.  

Yes, I need to get things done around the house. Yes, I need to do some work. However, I’m learning that with two children who are unpredictable in their needs and require me to be flexible, sometimes I just need to let go of my to-do list and do what I see needs done at the moment. I need to not chastise myself. When I get too focused on my to-do list, I just get irritated that I can’t get it done and turn into Grumpy Mom. Nobody likes Grumpy Mom, not even Grumpy mom herself.

19. I can breastfeed.  

I debated as to whether this was a lesson I learned by having a second baby and decided it most definitely is. The first time around, I had unexpected trouble with breastfeeding (thanks to my kiddo’s issues). I didn’t know how hard it would be. I learned that. And I learned what it meant to exclusively pump breastmilk for a year.  

When I had my son, I learned that some babies are just better at nursing and he was one of them. I still daily think about missing that relationship that had to end a couple of months early thanks to health complications on my behalf, but I know I can do it. I did it for nine months. And it worked even while managing a preschooler at the same time.

20. My absolute biggest lesson is I can do it.  

I have learned this year that I can be a mom to two children and manage just fine.  Of course there are bumps along the way.  Of course nothing is perfect.  Of course I make mistakes, but I’m doing it. I’m living this life.  My children are surviving having me as their mother and they’re both pretty happy kids.  I really can do it!

You are not forgotten

Encouragement for anyone who ever feels overlooked

I wrote these words on a Sunday afternoon almost six years ago. When I read this again recently, I had to share it again.

Today (Sunday) had a rocky start, but it ended up transforming my worldview just when I needed it most. God likes to do that. And He doesn’t disappoint.

I felt like I wrangled greased pigs to get us out the door and to church mostly on time. I do not like to be late, but we almost were. My husband was at home sick. My son was going back to the nursery for the first time in months. And this was the first time I was taking both kids to church on my own.

Finding God through chaos

As I drove, I explained to my daughter we were later than usual and she needed to cooperate and not dilly dally on the way in. She understood. Then I asked her if she would pray with me that her brother would not cry in the nursery. I drove and prayed out loud. She added her own prayer. We whizzed into the parking lot and were off.

As a complete answer to prayer, my son didn’t even whimper when I handed him over to the nursery worker. He just watched me go and was completely fine. I slid into a back pew feeling a bit shell-shocked. How had that just happened? I remembered our prayer from 10 minutes earlier and realized that God had answered my prayer.

Today was one of those days when my mama heart was just fragile and achy for a wide array of reasons. I couldn’t exactly put a finger on what was off and making me sad, but something was. I slowly began to revel in the fact that God had heard me and answered my prayer as we began singing worship songs. And almost as surely as if He’d been sitting in the pew beside me, God spoke to me.

“You have not been forgotten.”


“You have not been forgotten.”

The forgotten mama

My heart was filled. Tears sprung to my eyes. Forgotten. I had a name for what I’d been feeling the last couple of weeks. Forgotten. I am in a season where my life revolves around other people pretty much all of the time. 

While eating my breakfast, I thought about how 90% of the time, I was fine that life wasn’t about me. But 10% of the time, it stung. I didn’t quite know how to best manage that. Sometimes I wanted to do something for me. I wanted it to be about me sometimes. And sometimes I wanted to feel seen for who I was and heard for what was in my heart.

When we become moms, we disappear a bit. I’ve written about this many times. We disappear as our lives become so consumed with this small person (or people) who needs us. Heck, even just interacting with other people showcases that fact.  

Have you walked into a room with a baby in your arms and had someone stop and sincerely ask you how you’re doing? Neither have I. The baby gets the attention. And that’s OK.

But, over time, we mamas really can feel a bit forgotten, whether we recognize it or not. Add in that we forget about ourselves (when was the last time I got my hair cut or decided what I wanted to eat simply because it sounded good to ME?), and we are left a bit adrift.

Never forgotten

However, I have good news. I have good news that just arrived as a fresh balm to my aching heart this morning: You are not forgotten, mama. I am not forgotten. No matter how little the rest of the world sees of us, no matter how little we see of ourselves, God sees us. He sees us. HE sees US! We have not been forgotten.

And that includes prayers we’ve been praying for years and waiting for answers to. That includes the desires of our hearts that sometimes seem so far from obtainable we cry in despair. It also includes the pieces of ourselves we chip away in order to take care of our families. And it includes all the sacrifices we make. It also includes the hurts He continues to let us endure to remind us how much we need Him.  

We’re not flailing around down here without Someone noticing. He notices. He hasn’t forgotten us. He loves us. He sees us. He doesn’t overlook us. We are the desire of God’s heart even more than our children are the desire of our hearts. He has not forgotten you, mama. He loves you.

Dwell on that today. Remember that today as you tend to everyone else except yourself. Remember that today when you feel like no one is listening to your heart, even if that’s only because you’re too tired to express your heart to someone who cares. Remember that today when you start to feel like nothing more than a cook, maid and bottom-wiper. Remember that God sees you. God loves you. God encourages you. And He has not forgotten you. He wants to meet you where you are.

You are not forgotten!

Moms on a Mission: Mari Hernandez-Tuten

Profiles of moms making a difference

Connecting with other Christian moms blesses and encourages me. I love the Moms on a Mission series in part for this reason! We are all doing different things but with the similar goal of honoring God.

Mari Hernandez-Tuten is one such mom. She’s a fellow faith blogger over at Inspired by Family and has a similar mission to Families with Grace.

I’ve recently gotten to know Mari better in working with her and some other faith bloggers to put together a virtual, DIY Summer Camp at Home about character for kids. The camp includes seven days worth of great (free!) resources to teach kids how to be kind, obedient, honest, content, respectful, faithful and generous.

(I’ve got a list of fun ways to teach your kids about obedience going live on June 12. Don’t miss it!)

Mari’s passion leaps off the screen. She’s the mom of three boys and wife of her first boyfriend who spent nearly a decade on the mission field in South America. Mari ministers through her writing, speaking, counseling and more. Her testimony will inspire you to continue on in your own God-given passion!

Families with Grace: What is your God-given mission or passion?

Mari Hernandez-Tuten: I’m one of those eclectic people who feels passionate about many things. I truly enjoy serving others, hospitality, friendships, family, art and community. 

I love encouraging women to find hope and truth in their motherhood through God’s word. And that’s how I ended up writing a blog about family, faith and fun because I couldn’t imagine only writing about fun activities, but I also wanted to share my faith and encourage mothers on this journey of parenting. 

FWG: How do you work to live out that mission right now?

MHT: My background is in counseling and family life coaching. So I have the joy of speaking and teaching workshops to encourage parents and women. 

I’m also currently working with a publisher on a Bible study for women on Proverbs 31. 

These things I just mentioned are great opportunities, but I get to do what I am most passionate about here in my home and community. I feel it’s important to not just be an encouraging online presence but to do life side-by-side with others in my home and in my community.

FWG: What are some of your biggest challenges in living out your mission?

MHT: One of my challenges in living out my mission would be what I just shared above–I am passionate about a lot of things. I’m a visionary and leader so I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and finding ways to make it happen, which can be overwhelming. Another one would be fear. I use to be fearless, but the older I get the more I let fear keep me from doing things for God.

FWG: What have been some of your biggest blessings in living out your mission?

MHT: My biggest blessing from living out my mission is that my children get to witness God working through me and in me as countless women from all walks of life and ages share their lives, laughter and tears with me over a cup of tea at my dinner table. 

FWG: How do you balance motherhood responsibilities with your work/mission?

Early on in motherhood, I had a monumental moment that changed the course of my life. I talk about it here. It was a time when God opened my eyes and heart to see “God’s glory discovers us where we are.” In the menial tasks, in the everyday moments of life, He can use us. Throughout scripture you see Him come face-to-face with women in the midst of the everyday tasks of life. 

FWG: What’s the best advice you have for other moms who are following their passions?

MHT: I love how God meets us where we are—while changing diapers, in the carpool line, on the way to work, while playing old maid for the 100th time with your preschooler…

One of the many divine encounters that have profoundly impacted me from the Bible was that of Jacob. God met Jacob on the road in the middle of nowhere and changed His name and gave him purpose. God meets Hagar in the desert and calls her by name. God met Moses in the field while he was shepherding his flock. God met the woman at the well in the middle of the day,  while she was out getting water, and changed the course of her life. 

Ask God to help you see the menial tasks of your ordinary life through His perspective and be willing to offer it up to Him. It really isn’t about what you do or don’t have to offer but what God does with it. 

Allow Him to take your meager offering and multiply it for His glory however He sees fit. Finally, I leave you with this–You can’t give to others what you don’t have. Make time to connect with God for yourself, not for your ministry, your Bible study or your Sunday School lesson, but because you long to be in His presence.

Read more from the series

Moms on a Mission: Dr. Karen Dowling

Moms on a Mission: Erin Mayes

Moms on a Mission: Kathleen Brooker

Moms on a Mission: Sarah R. Moore

Moms on a Mission: Stacey Pardoe

Moms on a Mission: Kristin Billerbeck

Moms on a Mission: Crystal (aka InnieMom)

Moms on a Mission: Pastor Stefanie Hendrickson

Moms on a Mission: Amy Cutler

How to make summer plans for your family during a pandemic

6 Ways to make summer plans during a global pandemic

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Last year, I shared 10 ways to make your summer break easier. And while I stand behind those ideas, some of them aren’t so feasible this year. Summer planning right now is a bit different.

Unlike with the 10 ways I shared last year, this year’s modified summer plan I’m sharing hasn’t been tried and proven by years of summer life. However, my husband and I have been intentional about what we want summer break to look like and how to make it best for our family.

So, I’m sharing what our plans are for this summer. They may change and shift as the summer goes on. I won’t pretend I know exactly how things will play out this summer, but I will share updates if we make a major change!

1. Come up with a schedule that works for your family.

Each year I see summer schedules floating around on social media with lists of chores and things kids must do to earn screen time and such. Have at it if that’s your thing! But, it’s not my family’s thing.

I’m a very scheduled person. We love routines at my house. In fact, I have posted how routines make my family happier. However, I am also big on being simple. I’ve found that simple routines and plans are easiest to maintain.

So my husband and I talked about what we most want to prioritize for our kids this summer. We want them to play with each other, do something physical, play with the puppy and read. Those are quite literally our highest priorities for everyday life this summer.

We are leaving it up to our kids a bit. We’ve asked them to spend 30 minutes playing together each day. We sat down as a family and made a list of activities they like to do together. (I’m big on lists!) The list includes things like Barbies, Legos, coloring, doing crafts and using their science kit.

We’ve also asked them to be active for at least 20 minutes each day and to incorporate the puppy into that activity if at all possible.

That’s it for daily requirements. They do have to ask permission for being on screens, so they don’t have free reign over television and tablets. They do have chores to do on a regular basis and chores that come up as we live life, but we really do our best to keep it simple.

2. Create your own reading program.

Since they were tiny, my kids have participated in the library’s summer reading program. That’s not an option this summer, but we didn’t want to let reading slide. My oldest is an avid reader and reads a lot no matter what. My youngest, though, is not so confident in his reading skills. He is a good reader, but he doesn’t think so.

So, we designed and personalized a reading program for our family that is so far been very well received. The kids have 11-1/2 weeks of summer break. We decided to go with an 8-week schedule. My daughter needs to read four chapters a week (she definitely reads more, so we may change that). My son needs to read two books.

Each week has a reward they get for completing the week’s reading assignment. Again, we worked with the kids to come up with ideas of what they actually would like to earn. For example, my son wants a day that he can play a video game without having to ask for permission. My daughter wants a day to style me and do my makeup. Other rewards include an ice-cream treat, getting to pick what we’re having for dinner and getting to pick what we do for family play time.

The program ends with the kids being allowed to pick up one toy for $15 or less as the final reward.

Figuring out reading material can be a bit tricky if you can’t get to a library, but we have utilized our Kindle Unlimited subscription and ordered a few new books, too. (If you’re looking for book ideas, check out this list of more than 100 children’s books worth reading for toddlers to tweens!)

I made a log sheet where they can mark off their reading each week by inserting a table into a Word document. I used a separate table in a Word document to input their weekly rewards.

3. Make a list of fun things you want to do as a family.

This is a list we make each summer. I learned pretty quickly that summers go by way too fast and we can get through the summer without having done even half of what we wanted to. So, we started making a list as a family at the beginning of each summer break of things we wanted to do and people we wanted to visit.

This year, we still made the list, but it looks different. Going places and visiting with friends have changed. We are continuing to be very cautious, so some activities aren’t possible.

Our list this year includes a few things that say “if possible,” such as going to visit relatives who live out of town or going swimming at a public pool. It includes other things that we haven’t had on the list before like some science experiments we want to do at home, taking the puppy to the park and river, going fishing and playing school.

I print the list and post it on the fridge. The summer activity list serves a few purposes. First, when my kids are bored, I can refer them to the list for activities they can do on their own. Second, when we get to the end of summer and someone invariably says we didn’t get to do fun things, I can point them to the things marked off the list. Third, it lets my husband and me know what activities are most important to our kids for the summer so we can prioritize those.

4. Make a list of summer goals.

This is again a list we make every summer, but this year it changed up a bit. We asked the kids to get more specific with their goals. For example, my daughter always wants to learn to cook more. So this year we changed that into a goal of her cooking dinner one night every other week. We also enrolled her in an online cooking class (see more about that in number 5).

We included a few goals we have for around the house as well like installing a ceiling fan in our loft and organizing the garage.

This list goes on the bottom of the activity list and is on the fridge. It’s a great list to refer bored kids to as well and help them stay on track with their personal goals. The older my kids get, the better they get at being able to identify, articulate and achieve goals. My 10-year-old is much more into this right now than my 7-year-old.

5. Find some online activities in place of summer camps.

(Note: I do not endorse any of the sites linked in this section or have any affiliation with them other than I have my children enrolled in courses through these sites.)

I’ve not sent my kiddos away to overnight summer camps ever, but we would do day camps or fun classes in the summer like swimming or acting. I love that online options are available in things that interest them.

My daughter wanted to find a fiction writing class, because she is very much into writing right now. She started writing a book at the beginning of quarantine and wants to finish it by the end of summer. She’s also interested in cooking (as mentioned above).

I found an online writing class for her through ActivityHero.com that I paid to enroll her in. Hopefully, it will be productive for her and she’ll enjoy it while also honing her writing skills.

I was pleased to find a free online cooking class for her through VarsityTutors.com. So we’re going to give that a try.

My son wanted to do something with art. I found an online dinosaur art program for him online through OutSchool.com. He did a one-time superhero karate class that was free on OutSchool and enjoyed it. He also did a one-time handwriting improvement class last week that I paid $10 for. It wasn’t good at all. In fact, we left the class early. The dinosaur art class looks right up his alley, though.

6. Leave free time.

My husband and I are careful to guard our family’s activities to keep us from being too busy. In a summer that we travel is limited and not as much is planned outside of our home, we are still being careful of not over-scheduling.

The best thing about summer break as a kid is having free time. My daughter spent one morning last week reading the whole morning. (She’s so my kid!) My son spent an afternoon last week playing a video game with his dad. One evening last week, we all went out on the porch to watch a downpour and do a bit of running through the rain.

Our best memories over any summer — this weird phase included — are made in the small moments when we are just having fun together. I want us to have time for games, movies, reading together and cooking together. We can’t do that if every moment is scheduled and rigid. This summer, even more than any other, we will go with the flow!

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