Summer is quickly approaching and there’s still so much to plan. My stepdaughter will be out of school soon and preparing to go off to college. I still can’t believe it and neither can her dad!
I know exactly what my summer will include. Helping my stepdaughter pack the essentials; only those items that can fit in a tiny dorm room. Challenge accepted!
If you have school-age stepchildren, you will have other considerations: What will they do for fun? Will there be any family summer trips? Do you have enough food in the house for almost 3 months of them being home? Do you have a plan to make sure you also get to relax and enjoy the summer season?
Summer breaks can be fun but can be hard if you don’t have a plan to balance your work and family as a stepmom. Here are a few tips so that you can have the amazing summer you and your family deserve!
Plan Ahead As Soon As Possible (Proverbs 21:5)
The importance of planning in advance and the consequences of not planning at all is emphasized in the scripture found at Proverbs 21:5 which urges us,
The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit,
but anyone who is reckless certainly becomes poor.
If there are specific activities you plan on doing or certain places you plan to go, plan ahead. The longer you take to plan, the higher the chance of missing out or paying more money since prices increase during the summer.
For example, the better, cheaper and more fun summer camps and courses fill up quickly. Sit down with your stepchildren now and ask them what they are interested in doing.
Every summer, my oldest nephew looked forward to basketball camp. The best camp got filled very quickly and there were always disappointed parents and children at the beginning of the first session that did not get in.
Maybe your stepchild wants to join a swimming, gymnastics or some type of girl/boy scouts that includes outdoor camping? Or you can discuss going to a camp that will help them with what they want to do as a profession after graduation such as art.
Some parents prefer that their children spend their summer at camps that focus on their brain and not necessarily outdoor activities such as science, or learning a foreign language.
Take advantage of your time now to research their reputation, costs, carpooling with other parents who child is going to the same camp which will save time. If they are going to a camp away from home for a few weeks, start planning what they need to pack.
If you are planning a trip, planning ahead will save you money. It will also save you from the stress of the last minute details of planning tours, booking hotels, renting cars and so on.
I also suggest that if you are a working stepmom, request your time off as soon as possible. I’ve seen situations where there are five people in a department and each one wants time off during the summer around the same time.
Of course, the office manager cannot grant everyone’s request as the department would be completely empty. This usually meant that the person’s closest to her would get their ideal dates off.
The earlier you submit your time off, the better chance you have of getting that time approved.
When you plan ahead for the summer, you can organize as many projects in advance as you could. You may decide to use the summer for home renovations or have a huge deadline at work coming up.
Try to get as many things done as possible to prevent conflicts at home and at work.
Schedule Time for Your Stepkids to Relax (Mark 6:31)
Summertime is the perfect time for your stepchildren to spend as much time outside as possible. However, you still want them to spend some time relaxing and stimulating their minds and not just their bodies.
Even Jesus encouraged his disciples to take time out to relax in the bible book of Mark 6:31,
He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
Your stepchildren can spend some time watching pre-selected, pre-approved movies with popcorn and drinks included. They can be fun movies or educational movies.
This goes for books as well. As the first tip brought out, plan ahead. Schedule a time for the entire family to go to the library together to pick out their favorite books.
Now would also be a good time to select books from your stepkids school summer reading list. The library can also be a great place to become inspired to find craft ideas and other art projects that they can work on at home.
A quick trip to a crafts store after your library visit and you will have everything you need stored and ready to go for when school closes.
Finding a balance between the going outside, away from technology and ensuring that they retain what they learned throughout the school year is important.
When I was younger, my older sister and I would practice our spelling words, timetables and other school lessons. We would make a game out of it and take turns pretending to be the teacher.
I can also remember as a teenager making flashcards throughout the year and spending some time during the summer reviewing those cards. I took every opportunity to do this: doctor and dentist visits, long car rides or when my mom took us places I had no interest in.
Studying may be the last thing on your stepchild’s mind over the summer but you can find creative ways to make learning fun. Rewards also act as a great incentive.
You can offer a special prize when they complete their summer reading book list. Or, if they have a school project to complete, you can offer to take them someplace they want to go or buy them something they want after the project is complete to your satisfaction.
Schedule Fun Activities for Your Stepchildren
I remember reading this excellent tip online that I want to share with you. As parents, it is hard if not impossible to keep children entertained every single day for the entire summer.
Each day brings restlessness and impatience with countless questions from younger children as to when they are leaving for camp, or your family trip or even going to the movies.
Your stepkids will be much more patient if they can see the activities planned over the next few months. This can be an activity you do together: get a cheap poster boards and colorful markers and create your own calendar.
Mark on it and highlight all the day when an activity is scheduled and place it somewhere they can easily look at when they pass by. This gets them excited when they see “trip to the zoo,” “1st day of summer camp,” or “trip to Disney World,” coming up.
As mentioned, each day won’t be filled with grand events and trips. You can spread smaller activities throughout your schedule as well. You can mark on the calendar the days you will carry them to a local park or swimming pool.
You can also use this same calendar to mark their chores on that should be done before you get home from work. This will give them incentive to complete their chore list so that you can treat them with a simple activity.
You will certainly feel less stressed knowing work and play is scheduled and your stepchildren will be patient knowing when they will be entertained.
Consider Letting Your Stepchildren Get Summer Jobs (Proverbs 12:11)
If your stepchildren are anything like my stepdaughter, they want their own money. Some parents give their children an allowance each week.
Growing up, my mother didn’t give us an allowance because as far as she was concerned, my sister’s and I shouldn’t be getting paid to clean the house that we live in and benefit from.
I learned early on as I saw my classmates buy things from their allowance money that if I also wanted to buy things, I needed to make my own money. Some summer jobs I did included working in my grandaunt’s clothing store, selling books, fruits in season and making Popsicles and other snacks that I sold to other children in my neighborhood.
As a stepparent, you may decide to organize projects that need to be done and allow them to earn money doing these. Projects and chores will give them opportunities to earn money and keep them busy.
They can wash the car, make and sell lemonade, plant a garden, organize a garage sale, or even help you with your work if they are old enough. You can have them type documents, photocopy documents or show them how to file your documents.
It is never too early to show your children the value of hard work. As Proverbs 12:11 shows,
The one who works his land will have plenty of food,
but whoever chases fantasies lacks sense.
This lesson will stay with your child as they grow to adulthood and join the workforce. Handwork and creativity are the beginning of your future entrepreneur’s successful business!
Plan Simple Meals and Keep Plenty Food in the House
Meal planning is one of the easiest way to find extra time in the summer. There are so many helpful tips to save money and time feeding your family. especially if your children will be home throughout the day.
You can dust off your slow cooker, put something together before you leave for work and dinner will be ready for the next day. I have a couple articles that you may find beneficial, especially if you are just starting out:
Freezer meals are also popular right now. If your stepchild is older, they can thaw and heat up your prepared freezer meals. This will be one less thing to worry about.
The key to planning meals in advance is to keep things simple. Make salads and sandwiches. Summertime also means pulling out the grill in the backyard so take advantage of that.
Use the leftover meat and veggies to make quick omelettes and sandwiches for the next day. The more time you spend outside cooking and eating, the less cleanup there will be for you.
Another tip when it comes to food is to stock up on food items, especially if your stepchildren will be home all summer. Spend the extra money in one big trip and buy snacks and drinks and you will save money and time later.
Below is a video by Our Tribe of Many that shows how they complete a once-a-month grocery haul. Then they go back to the store halfway through the month to purchase fresh produce, milk, fruits, veggies and eggs.
Even if you do not have as many children, you can apply the same tactics to stock up your pantry, refrigerator and freezer for a few months.
Have Time for Yourself
Planning is important if you want a stress free and fun summer. However, one thing that sometimes goes overlooked is also making sure that YOU have time for yourself.
You need time to recharge for the hectic schedule that back to school brings: school supplies, textbooks, school uniform/clothes and more. How can you gain the time you need to relax?
Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t take on unnecessary tasks. If your stepchildren can handle something, allow them to do it. Trying to balance your normal schedule with full time kids at home is tedious.
If you find you have a lot of free time on your hands, don’t feel pressured to add more activities. Sleep, get a tan, read, meditate, work on your self development this summer or on working on your relationship with your spouse, stepchild and God.
At times, you may want to simply leave the house and go for a drive. Or stop for ice cream. Or wind down in the evenings with your favorite song, a glass of wine and cooking a nice meal that makes you feel relaxed.
Whatever you decide to do this summer, create a plan and stick with it. Plan for fun in the sun, family bonding time and time for yourself. Make this summer a happy one!
What do you and your family have planned this summer? Let me know in the comments below!