Surviving the Summer Outnumbered

Surviving the Summer Outnumbered

As a teacher, I get to spend summer breaks with my kids. I work camp and summer school all of June, and because my kids spend those weeks with their grandparents, during the 4-5 weeks I have off in July/August, I want to spend as much time with them as possible. As much as I love my girls, the two of them together can get really overwhelming. Going into my 3rd summer with two precious, yet very strong-willed, daughters, I’ve learned what is helpful for me to survive the summer being outnumbered:


It’s nearly impossible to function during summer months on the same schedule as the school year, so we don’t try. I do try to keep a sort of schedule in what our daily “events” are: (M)playground, (Tu)visit grandparents, (W)playdate, (Th)special place (zoo / aquarium / museum / etc.), (F)playground. It’s just enough variety to keep them entertained but not bored. This also helps them know what to expect and that we can’t spend every single day at the Children’s Museum (which we totally would do if we could leave there without getting a fancy popsicle every single time).

Screen time

During the school year, we try to limit how much time we spend with tv or tablets, but during the summer, we definitely bend on our screen time goals/rules. The best way to survive being outnumbered is to use screen time to your advantage – we use it to calm down on especially wound up days because an episode of Bluey is sometimes the only thing that can get both of my kids to sit still at the same time. Some days I use screen time as a way to bond with my oldest while her sister is napping. Last summer, she and I took turns picking a movie, and her whole mood would change after a special movie-nap camp-out in my bedroom. Thirty minutes of tv is also a good way to get kids to come inside to cool off and hydrate when they’ve been playing outside for too for surviving summer with more than one child

Special summer snacks

Each weekend of those 4-5 weeks it’s just me and my kids, we go to the store, and they pick out a special summer snack. It’s often a snack we wouldn’t get regularly during the school year. They understand that even if they pick out the snack, Mommy is still in charge of when we have it and how much we can have. One week, they might pick out Spiderman fruit snacks, the next fancy shaped pretzels, and the next special popsicles. Whatever they pick out, they know that these special snacks will be a part of our week-day schedule in some way which helps with a sense of routine, something young kids desperately need, and also adds fun to our days.


As much as my kids love mom time during these weeks, they also miss their friends from school. I try to schedule at least one playdate each week. Sometimes these are playdates with their cousins (family bonding time), sometimes with kids of other mom friends of mine (making new friends), and sometimes we meet up with friends they are used to being with (familiarity). Bringing these playdates into our schedule is always helpful to mix things up a bit and give them some time with people other than just mommy. This also gives them someone to talk to other than me every day, which is crucial for maintaining your sanity.


The biggest thing needed to survive the summer outnumbered is grace. Give your kids grace. They are off their routine. They are probably more tired than usual or more stir crazy from being inside so much (because it’s so freaking hot here). They may miss having their own time away from their sibling or something fun to do to tell us stories about. They need grace because they’re kids, and being good listeners and controlling their emotions is especially difficult during the summer. More importantly, give yourself grace. I am not my best mom-self during the summer. The weather sucks, I’m overstimulated, and I miss adult conversation and quiet lunches with coworkers. I get cranky, tired, impatient, and tend to beat myself up for not giving my kids the memorable summers I see on social media. We need to give ourselves grace, remember that we, just like our kids, are only human, and remember kids can have the best summer just having uninterrupted time with Mom.

Being outnumbered by your kids isn’t easy, and there’s no real equation for making it easy, but it is possible to survive, even 5 long weeks straight of it. These things have helped me, and hopefully, they help make summertime with your kids a bit less stressful so it can be more fun for everyone.

Alison Ruckert
Alison was born and raised in New Orleans. After 7 years in north Louisiana for college and her first years of teaching, she returned home, and now lives in Metairie with her husband, two daughters, and dog. She has spent the past 16 years teaching high school English and Speech. When not at school, she enjoys weekend and summer break days with her family, including her two strong-will, high-spirited daughters who keep life interesting and moving at all times. She cannot survive a day without coffee and will drop everything if you ask her to join you at PJ's or go have chips and salsa. Watching her kids grow up with family and friends close by and in the city she loves so much is the greatest thing she could ask for.


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