5 Ways to Give Your Kids a “Magical” Summer as a Working Mom

5 Ways to Give Your Kids a "Magical" Summer as a Working Mom | Houston Moms Blog

Summer is one of the hardest seasons for a working mom. There’s the childcare issue: we have to scramble to figure out what to do with these kids for three months while we go to work as usual, and once we get it covered, it’s often a huge increase in expenses. That’s stressful, but the guilt can be worse.

During this season we have to fight hard against comparison because it seems like all the other families are having “magical summers.” There is just no way we are going to be able to fulfill the summer bucket list {even though we think all the ideas are awesome}. We may not be able to afford a vacation, let alone get the time off work. 

Remember that summer is a break from school that is an important part of childhood, but part of that is having plenty of time for unstructured play and imagination. Take the stress off of yourself: you don’t need to make sure they are scheduled with playdates and camps and activities each day. And if they spend most of their days in childcare, that’s okay too! Most likely they will have a blast.

At the same time, family adventures and experiences are a good thing, and summer is usually more flexible. But for a working mom, it’s harder to make happen. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and here are my best tips for having a fulfilling summer with young kids at home.

Identify Your Priorities

First of all, make sure you check with your kids to see what is most important for them. You may have a bunch of ideas of what sounds fun to you, but what if your kid’s not interested? I suggest coming up with a realistic list of things to do that include tried and true stuff your family loves, and maybe some new adventures.

Once you have your list, identify the things that are highest priorities. The things that you would be SO disappointed to miss. Then schedule them! If they’re on the calendar/tickets bought/reservations made, you’ll be that much more likely to actually do them. Anything else you get to squeeze in is bonus.

5 Ways to Give Your Kids a "Magical" Summer as a Working Mom | Houston Moms Blog

Be Mindful of Media Use

When it comes down to it, I don’t think it’s the actual activities that you do that will create lasting memories, but the feeling you get from being together as a family. You may still only have limited time with your kids during the summer, but try to be as present as you can during that time. So while it’s probably good to limit your kids’ screen time as well, here I’m talking about YOU. Some ideas:

  • Take social media apps off your phone just for the summer
  • Schedule weekly media-free family time, like game nights or picnics
  • Start a no-phone morning routine to get in the right mindset for when your kids wake up
  • Try an app like Forest that incentivizes you to leave your phone alone (I’m using it right now to write this post!)

Consider a Staycation

If you don’t have the funds, energy, or time to take an extended vacation, a staycation could be the perfect choice for your family. In a town of this size, there are bound to be plenty of places and activities you haven’t explored. Check out this post for some ideas of things to do, or what you and your family might need more is just some lazy days at home. Permission granted!

5 Ways to Give Your Kids a "Magical" Summer as a Working Mom | Houston Moms Blog

Become a Pool Mom

Part of what I remember best about summers growing up is going to the neighborhood pool almost every single day. When we were old enough, we were allowed to go on our own, but even if you have young kids you can make this happen! All it takes is a little prep and a routine, and then you can be ready to go within a few minutes. Here are some things that have helped me:

  • A designated pool bag with extras of everything, stored right by the back door.
  • Pack snacks because something about swimming makes you ravenous. Stock up on portable ones from Costco!
  • Time it right. During the week I like to have a quick early dinner, then take the kids afterward. That way it’s not so hot, they’ve eaten, and the pool closes in an hour, so I don’t have to be the bad guy telling them it’s time to go.
  • Get a good swimsuit for yourself. This is an investment! Choose one that fits, will last, and you’ll feel great in. The best swimsuit I’ve ever had comes from Kortni Jeane.
  • Laundry ASAP. Basically just strip everything off everyone as you walk in the door.

A corollary to this is to invest in some good backyard toys. Then, on those nights when you don’t feel like hitting up the pool, you can just open up the back door and let your kids go.

Choose a Summer Hobby

Lastly, make summer fun for you too – you as a person, not a mom! This could be a perfect time to pick up a new hobby. Teach yourself to grill – it’s not just a man’s job. Tackle a summer reading list. Test and choose a signature drink. Invite people over. Take an online photography course. Plant a small garden. Create a summer memories scrapbook. There are so many options, and most of them don’t require a ton of time or money. Have fun with it!

What would be in your working mom’s summer survival guide?


  1. Thanks for the great tips! We just bought one of those medium sized inflatable pools, floaties, and goggles for our 1 1/2 year old to experience being in a pool for the summer for the first time in his life. I’m looking forward to the experience with him. His expressions are priceless when he’s happy.

  2. Kathleen, this is such a great post – very inspiring! And thank you for the recommendation about Forest! I’m downloading this ASAP so I’ll stop being so distracted while working on grad school homework!


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