Image of boy in towel and goggles at pool for summer survival

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At this time of year, there are a lot of “essentials for summer survival” and “summer hacks and tips” checklists floating around the internet. Most of them seem to be related to nutrition and appearance (summer body, beach-ready, etc.).

Well, that particular ship sailed for me when my middle son literally tore through my abs. Then, his younger siblings turned the aftermath into a hot air balloon.

Appearances aside, there’s also no shortage of websites out there offering unsolicited and unhelpful parenting advice.

They’ll tell you what sunscreen to put on your child, or conversely, what hazardous poison-death-creams not to put on your child.

They’ll tell you what popsicles are “safe” and what popsicles are frozen toxic wastelands that will wreck your child’s health forever.

Sadly, none of those summer survival tips (and I use the word “tips” quite loosely) are going to help you run your household insane asylum through the summer. If you’re at all like me, a completely different checklist will much better suit your summer survival needs.

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So I present:

5 Summer Survival Tips You Can Actually Use!

Tip#1: Earplugs.

The clear wax kind.

I love my children and I (generally) want to hear what they have to say. At ages nine, six, four, and one, I just want to hear it a little more softly than they are capable of delivering at this point in time.

(Seriously, no one warned me that parenthood would be so LOUD!)

These earplugs are my jam because you can break off just a small piece and the kids can’t even see them (so you won’t hurt their feelings and 10-20 years from now, they won’t be telling their therapists about how Mommy literally blocked them out).

They’re also awesome because they’re safe (because really, what good is a summer survival tip if someone literally does not survive?).

They don’t cut out all the sound, just the amount of sound that makes you want to rip your ears from your head and feed them to your garbage disposal. Success!

Tip #2: Caffeine.

I don’t care what the health nuts have to say about this.

There is no supplement (aside from speed, and I don’t think that’s wise) that can account for the fact that my youngest has only slept through the night three times in the past year. If I’m going to keep getting up every 2-3 hours (or 20-30 minutes) until the end of time, I need caffeine or someone is going to get hurt.

(Want a good laugh? Check out these hilarious and true sleep deprivation stories from fellow parents)

I choose to get this caffeine from a variety of sources, but McDonald’s Diet Coke is still my favorite.

Last summer, the drive-thru lady knew my minivan on sight and, when I arrived at the ordering speaker, I was told, “Diet Coke, extra ice, right?” I am choosing to see this as awesome, time-saving helpfulness on her part rather than judgment with a dash of shame.

Tip #3: Booze.

As I’ve discussed before, parenthood is basically a fraternity party, but be careful with this one, because nothing is worse than being hungover and spending your day with children.

I occasionally forget this, but am heartily reminded whenever I have one too many.

I think one glass of wine/beer is perfect. It’s not enough to get you drunk (well, I am a bit of a lightweight these days), but it is enough to slightly dull the sensory nerves that feel as though they’ve literally gone raw from over-stimulation all day long.

Tip #4: 95,000 snacks.

Your kids will snack all day long.

Who cares if they only have one snack and one lunch at school? At home during the summer, your house basically becomes a Chinese buffet: something for everyone, at all times.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 2.5 seconds after breakfast, can’t you see they’re starving?!?!

You can try feeding them something healthy (my kids will eat something I call a “snack” that they’d never touch if I dared call it a meal), or you can give up entirely and feed them whatever they can get for themselves.

Then there’s always a third option, which is to spill a snack onto the floor and let them eat it from there. As I accidentally discovered, this is, apparently, a very enjoyable way for kids to snack on foods for which they’ve previously declared their hatred.

The baby stole a box of Raisin Bran and sprinkled it everywhere.  The boys then raced and fought one another (and the dog) to eat it all off the carpet.  These same boys will sob if I put Raisin Bran in their actual cereal bowls.

Still, the children’s snacks only account for about 85,000 of these. The other 10K? That’s all you.

I don’t know if it’s stress or what, but you will eat and eat and eat some more. This is unfortunate because you will be going to the pool with your kids and wearing a bathing suit, but… tell that to my bag of Oreos.

Tip #5: Low standards.

This is an everyday thing around here, but the need is felt more acutely during the summer. Perhaps it would be more accurate to list this as “Even lower standards.”

Pajamas all day? You’re being environmentally conscious.

Extra screen time? Magic School Bus is “educational.”

Mess everywhere? Well, I have no clever excuse, but we’ve certainly got that in spades.

And there you have it!

These five things should successfully allow you to keep your children alive until late August or early September, when school mercifully starts up again.

There’s even a remote chance that you might be able to greet your spouse like a semi-sane person when he gets home from work. (But honestly? I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one…)

Of course if worse comes to worst, you can always exercise emergency Option 6: Babysitters!

What are your best summer survival tips? Leave them in the comments.

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  1. This is hilariously true! I have 3 girls but the dynamics are the same.
    Survival mode…all summer long!
    My Summer Survival Strategy #7 suggestion:
    Watercolors! Yup, $1 at the Dollar tree. Bored? paint! “Here, have a piece of computer paper, coloring book, construction paper. Yea, sure, paint your sister, the bath tub, IDC! I’ll wash it off later!”

    1. Hi Trema,

      That is so true! I remember loving those as a kid, but I kind of forgot about them until someone gave them to my son as a gift. Those things can occupy kids for hours! Love the “whatever, I’ll wash it off later” attitude. I find that I’m letting kids make (and leave) messes I’d never be able to tolerate during the school year just for the sake of everyone not bothering me for two whole seconds 🙂


  2. As always, your self deprecating child-rearing humor is simultaneously entertaining, reassuring, and savvy! By far my favorite “reading material” (bc let’s be honest, moms don’t have time to read anything but the field trip permission form that’s due yesterday, the check engine notice and the occasionally blog available via cellphone while the kids have too much screen time as well). Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Aww, Cassie, you are so sweet! I SO know what you mean about the time for reading (or anything!). Every time a person tells me about a book they’ve read (or that I should read), I get this blank stare and my mind basically struggles and says “Does.Not.Compute.” Thank you!

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