There are many things I love about being a WAHM (that's work at home mom, for those in the know). There is almost never a traffic jam in my commute (unless I have to go anywhere near the bathroom - one is just NOT enough for 4 people)! Every day is casual Friday, and yes casual means pyjamas and/or a bathrobe. Plus I can multi-task with the best of them, getting in a load of laundry, a quick workout and catch up on my latest Netflix addiction all on my lunch break! All of those perks start to lose their shine once summer rolls around, though.
Summer and the break from school is the bane of every WAHM's existence. Kids and their boundless energy, the million requests, and the "I'm bored" whines are amplified a MILLION times when we're facing down a deadline or - heaven forbid - on a call with a client. It's not an undertaking for the faint of heart. Now in my third summer of working from home full time, I feel like I've learned a few tricks for surviving the summer with my sanity and my deadlines in check.
We have our routine down pat. And by routine, I mean the kids tearing the house apart while I type furiously away at my keyboard, sporting fancy noise-cancelling headphones. I kid, I kid. The noise cancelling headphones are but a wish that will never be fulfilled. As much as routine is the backbone of making it through summer break, they do get stale, and without injecting a little spontaneity into the mix, things would get old quickly! So what's a WAHM to do?
These are my tips for finding moments of impromptu fun amidst the chaos.
1. Burn their energy first thing. The typical routine in our house is for us to have breakfast, and then the kids get a bit of TV time before we start our day. This allows me a quick check in with work to make sure no fires have happened overnight or in the wee hours of the morning that need tending to right away. At least once a week though, I try to shake things up with an early morning play session. This usually happens when the stars align and I'm up early and the kids sleep in. I get my check-in done before they wake up. Then we have breakfast together and go for a bike ride or spend an hour in the park before heading back home. I find on days that we do this, they'll play happily together for longer without interrupting my work or breaking out in fights. Win-Win.
2. Pack your lunch. Everyone's gotta eat right? But who said it had to be at the table? Even moving things out to a picnic blanket in the back yard or stopping by the park (can you tell we spend a lot of time at parks?) brings a breath of fresh air to a stale routine. If the weather is less than co-operative, challenging your kids to build a fort while you make lunch can be just as fun.
3. Change things up. Often the whines of boredom come when they feel like they've exhausted all of the fun at home, so I try and keep things fresh. We only keep some of our books, games, and toys in the play area, and I stash a bunch away in storage. When I feel them get to the edge of their entertainment limit, TA-DA! Here's a fun "new" thing you haven't played with in a while. Enjoy! I also hit up the dollar store for new and inexpensive activity books, paints, Play-Doh and other fun things that help to keep the boredom at bay.
4. Plan ahead. I know it seems less than impulsive if you plan your spontaneity ahead of time, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I love surprising my kids, so I try twice a month or so to work ahead so that I have an extra "unplanned" day free. We'll spend an entire day at Science World, or the beach, or the mall (hello mom of 2 girls!) and the fact that we get this surprise uninterrupted time together makes for a very fun time.
Working from home, especially in the summer, is no easy feat. But the flexibility and the extra time with my kids (and my Netflix) make it totally worth the effort!
If you're a mom who suffers from unrelenting stomach problems, I feel your pain (literally!) I’ve spent countless hours making lists of pharmacies, and locating public bathrooms on maps within walking distance of the various attractions for family events. Not your typical vacation planning list, but one that was vital for me to make it through a family trip. In situations when you're traveling or having fun with your family, spontaneity goes right out the window. Needless to say, my stomach problems had affected my entire family.
One day, I decided I had enough when my daughter asked me to join in a family outing and I just couldn’t. My pain was preventing me from taking part. When my little girl looked at me and said “it's ok mommy, one day you’ll be able to play with me,” my heart broke and I decided that there must be more I could do. I committed myself to finding out how to get back onto the playground — I was ready to target the pain and its cause.
I was sent a study that surveyed Canadians who experienced stomach pain just like I do. That's when I realized this is a thing! I'm not the only one dealing with stress and anxiety because of my chronic stomach pain. It was eye-opening and gave me hope knowing I was far from alone in dealing with this.
Here are some more of the study's findings that may help you feel the same:
It was comforting to know that many of the home remedies I had tried, such as modifying my diet, had also been used by others with ongoing stomach pain. While I wasn’t exactly sure which foods triggered my bouts of pain, I had some ideas, and felt part of a community as I continued my research. In the study, participants said that consuming various foods may be tough on their tummies on a regular basis, especially when it was spicy and fried foods, gluten, dairy products, and even carbonated and alcoholic beverages. Modifying my diet did help occasionally, but not consistently, and I would still get attacks of pain and cramps for no reason I could put my finger on.
How this may help you: Experiment. Cut out certain foods to see if that helps. If the cause of your discomfort is food related, this will help identify the trigger.
Of all the Canadians surveyed, 31 per cent choose an antacid (like Tums), 28 per cent choose heat (showers, baths, heating pad), 26 per cent choose home remedies (like tea), and 25 per cent choose a pain killer (like Tylenol). 14 per cent do nothing to feel better and six per cent can’t find a treatment for their cramps. (This was once me, but not anymore!) Meditation is something worth trying as well.
I also learned that while 74 per cent experience stomach cramping and associated pain, they are self-treating with products that do not target the cramping muscles that may be causing the pain.
Interestingly, the study also found that many Canadians are using products not designed to help them feel better by targeting the specific cramping muscles.
How this may help you: Again, experiment. Consult your doctor and try using some of the methods listed above. Personally, I took a wide variety of medications, antacids, and even pain killers with little relief. I did find that long baths in Epsom salts helped.
Still, if modifying my diet only helped occasionally and not being able to be in an Epsom salt bath 24/7, I needed to find something I could trust to relieve my pain on a regular basis. If you’re in the same position I was, you may find relief after using Buscopan. This is a treatment that relaxes those tight, cramping muscles in the stomach, intestines and bowels. It helps relieve abdominal cramps and the associated pain and gets you back where you should be — playing with your kids. It’s available behind the counter without a prescription, so chat with your doctor or pharmacist.
How this may help you: Buscopan specifically targets stomach pain, so it's not like taking a general pain reliever for joint pain or a headache and hoping it will work for your stomach pain. If you experience stomach cramps, this may be the remedy you've been searching for.
This is the time of year families pack up and go camping, or take a trip together to experience other places and cultures. These are the days when we all want to enjoy the longer hours of sunlight and mild evenings playing with the kids until the sun goes down. Dig a little deeper. You’re not alone. Yes, it sucks, but there are things that can help get you out the door and enjoying family time again!
The final school bell has rung for kids across Canada, and parents everywhere are making their summer plans. Vacations, summer camps, road trips and lazy days at the beach might all make the cut, but is school on the list?
My daughter has just finished grade two in a French Immersion school and I'm torn about what part - if any - education will play in our summer plans beyond switching our Netflix programming to French (did you know that was an option?). On one hand, there is a lot of language lost over 10 weeks, and she is not at the top of her class to begin with. On the other hand, 10 months of dictées and reading every night has taken it's toll and she is SO READY for a break. I don't want to kill her love of learning, so what's a parent do?
I started off by considering my options. There are a wide variety of educational programs you can explore for your child throughout the summer. Many school boards across Canada offer a summer school program at the Elementary level concentrating on Mathematics, Language Arts and STEM subjects, both in English and French. While some have already closed registration, you can still join many in the first few weeks of July. All the details are available on your local school board's website.
If the public school system isn't the way you want to go, there are many private centres across Canada such as Oxford Learning, Kumon and Sylvan Learning that have tutor styled programs that you can enroll your child in. Typically they focus on a single subject although hours and pricing options vary considerably by centre. A quick Google search will reveal the options closest to you if this is something you want to consider.
Home learning is what I've done in years past, although my daughter is quickly approaching a skill level in her conversational French that I won't be able to keep up with for very much longer (how sad is that?). She loves workbooks, so we have a start of summer tradition where we hit up the local book store (or Costco has a great selection as well), and she gets to pick a few workbooks and a few reading books for us to use over the summer. She does 30-60 minutes in the morning while I get a bit of work done myself and then we're off to play the day away. That combined with some great educational apps and French Netflix has been our summer style. It may change as she grows and her interests evolve, but for now it has suited us well.
What is your summer style? Is school truly out for the summer in your house? While many believe that summer is the time to give your kids a complete break, other kids need some educational component in their summer activities. Luckily, there are options for both.