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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Friday, February 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mama Bear Moxie: Don’t sweat the summer planning

By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

Summer is upon us, and it has mamas in a frenzy. Working moms have to make other plans for child care or enroll their kiddos in every-summer-camp-known -to-man to keep them busy. Stay-at-home moms suddenly see the end of the school year looming and think, “What am I going to do with you all summer?” The home-school mamas have the advantage of having been in the kids-at-home-all-day groove. Now have the time to have all day fun with their kiddos and enjoy the nice weather. It is easy to get into the cycle of school schedules, and the vast expanse of day after day of summer can cause some serious panic.

I’ve seen other moms who make a summer checklist. They post a picture of all of their summer goals with their kiddos on social media, which causes both jealousy and realizations that the ideas are pretty darn good. I have yet to make a list, but there are a few things that are just a given in our household: swimming, city water park, camping, BBQs, geocaching, garden weed pulling, going to the movies and usually a visit or two from family who live far away.

It can be easy to over plan. My husband always jokes that summer is booked by about mid-March, and he is partly correct. Some things need planning, requiring time off, money saving or registration. In past summers, I found myself answering the same Phineas and Ferb tag line from my very active younger son, “So, what are we going to do today?” Part of me wants to have a planned activity for everyday, but more of me wants to tell him, “When I was a kid, I remember many long, hot summer days where I was completely bored out of my mind. We’re doing that today.”

For many years, I’ve made multiple rules that have seemed to work out. One summer when the kids were little, and our budget was super tight, we did “mommy camp” with something fun and out of the ordinary once per week. “Mommy camp” consisted of a chocolate fondue day, a toy microscope and bug day, and a cloud gazing day in the middle of the yard. Other years included a “We are only doing one fun thing a week” rule that didn’t really go over as well as I hoped. Extended family was appalled, assuming I meant the other four days would be full of chores, reading and free child labor on the farm. My intent was we would only spend money outside of the house one day a week.

Whatever your plans are, your kids probably will only remember a few things from this summer when they are an adult. Do the best you can do, mess up a few times and don’t stress so much about the perfect summer experience. All too soon the back-to-school sales will be here, so no sweat on this summer stuff.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. www.mamabear Visit her website at

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