Summer Stress of the Overachieving Mom

I sat down today to make my summer list – you know, the master list of all the wonderful memories we’re going to make, places we’re going to visit and activities we are going to do that will undoubtedly make my child love me and crown me Mother of the Year by the end of August.

It’s foolproof! Foolproof, I say!

Well, until I made my critical mistake. I searched on Pinterest for these words: “Summer Activities for Kids.” At first, I was thrilled by the amount of summer fun lists and crafts and recipes and make-your-own everything from soap to slip-and-slides.

But then, reality set in. I can’t do all this. I’ll never be as fun as these moms. Who has time to make a tadpole life-cycle diorama after scooping up the squirmy little guys from the neighborhood creek? I’m a failure.

This summer is doomed. Doomed, I say!

It took a moment to talk myself down. I reminded myself that Pinterest and mommy blogs are full of snapshot moments in time. No one does educational, fulfilling, bonding activities every day. Right?

I also reminded myself that there is a balance – I just need to find it. On the hand, you have the moms with the poster-board size lists of 100 things they are going to accomplish this summer. On the other side, there are the moms who put Dora on loop until September rolls in.

I hope to land somewhere in the middle. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of ideas there are to do during the summer with kids. And it’s easy to get sucked into the trap of spending time shopping for supplies, planning endless activities and then being so exhausted by the time you actually have time to spend with your kids that you give up and declare yourself a failure.

So I’m picking my few favorite items from the infinite summer to-do lists, but I’m also leaving lots of time just to be together. Because the one thing I can count on is that the summer will fly by all too quickly. And when it does, I won’t miss the projects or the crafts or even the vacations. I will miss my daughter.

My favorite memories are the ones that happen spontaneously: flying a kite at dusk on the beach. Catching fireflies in the backyard. Laughing at a chocolate-stained moth asking for “S’more s’mores please.” Those moments don’t come from a summer to-do list or someone else’s blog. They are all mine and they are forever.

I keep coming back to this question: How will I feel when my daughter walks away from me in the fall to start another year of school?

I don’t want to feel we spent a summer posing in picture-perfect Pinterest posts. I don’t want to waste my precious time with my children chasing an elusive idea of the ultimate summer and the perfect mom. Instead, I hope I soak in my children this summer and enjoy the one thing that skitters away as quickly as those first fall leaves: time together.

How do you balance your summer plans? What activities are a must-do for family bonding?summertime




  1. Danny Chipman

    We’ve been looking at homeschooling as a possibility sometime in the next year or two. I figured this summer might be a good time to try it out. Knowing what a huge undertaking it would be to commit to this kind of thing, we’re planning things out well and taking it slow. My daughter and I are both excited about some of the fun crafts and science-related experiments we’ll be (hopefully) doing!

  2. Kay

    I love this post! I think balance is the right idea, and it is different for every mother. I have a summer fun list too. I will be satisfied if I make it half-way thru my list. The whole goal of the list is to bring a simple joy to my home each day in some form. The list is practical and realistic because it is all things I want to do that are within my reach demographically and within my budget economically . There is everything from weeding the garden while the kiddos play in the sprinkler to camping out in the back yard complete with dinner, smores & a trip to the pond to fish (we will also eat breakfast outside in the am when we wake up in our tents) I will be satisfied some days to make pancakes with my children, eat dinner on the patio outside under the lanterns, pick blueberries after lunch or snuggle on the sofa and read a novel with my girls. I believe your summer will be a great success when you do things that stretch you from a normal day. I naturally would be poky until lunch and my kids would not see the sun most days. So by planning activities that get us out of the house, I don’t fall into this natural pitfall, and the result is a fun filled summer with tons of memories, happy children & fresh air!

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