Posts Tagged ‘military family’

5 Tips To Survive Summer With Little Kids

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Blog disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of The Breastfeeding Shop via SoFluential Media. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Guys, summer is here!

You can read that in a super happy, excited voice: Horray! It’s summer! No school! Beach days! Ice cream for dinner!

Or you can read that in a slightly panicked voice: Summer is HERE. You are out of time to find camps or activities and I hope you like making 17 separate meals a day.

I have a million children. Technically, the actual number is four, but let me tell you reality means absolutely nothing when all of them are hungry/bored/tired/mad/have a tiny hangnail/thirsty/fighting at the same time. Four kids at four different ages means four different sets of needs and ability levels and nap (or no nap) schedules. Did I mention I also really hate having to feed everyone all the time? I really hate that part.

After 9 summers as the parent of at least one baby I’ve learned a lot about how to survive – and enjoy – summer, even with a million kids, even when I’m solo-parenting, even when I’m running on empty by lunchtime and still have a long way to go before bed. Here are my top 5 best tips to survive summer with little kids.

  1. Add more children. OK, this seems counterintuitive, but hear me out. Some of our easiest playdates are with my friend Sarah, who also has four children. Her kids + my kids = so many kids there’s always someone to play with or talk to or rope into your particular imaginary world. My babies love having big kids to play with who aren’t the regular big kids they see every day, and then when my big kids see the babies getting attention from other kids they remember that they love their babies too and then everyone just seems more fun.
  2. Find your happy place. Our happy place is The Lake. The Lake is a local beach club we pay a membership for each year. It has lots of big trees for shade, picnic tables, grills, a big grassy field for running around, a beach for digging and swimming, a dock for fishing, swings and a playset for climbing and it’s awesome. The Lake requires some supervision, but not nearly as much as you might think (see tip 3). If you don’t have a lake, think of somewhere your whole family enjoys – somewhere kid-friendly, where you might run into other kids for your’s to play with, where you can SIT DOWN and relax. It might take a few tries, but one you have a happy place it can be your go-to all summer long when you can’t stand to stare at the inside of your house any longer but don’t have the energy to do something new. Go every morning. Go every afternoon. Don’t worry you go to the same place too much, your kids don’t mind.
  3. Floaties. Listen, kids are going to try to drown themselves. It’s just what they do. If you have a tiny baby who can’t walk or crawl yet, your summer will be fine. If you’ve reached the mobile stage, going anywhere near water is beyond stressful. We have the floaty rule: if you are near the water, you wear a floaty. The baby wears one 100% of the time at the lake. The toddler wears one 85% of the time at the lake. The big kids – who are 9 and 7 – had to pass a swim test last year and this year before I let them give up the floaties. If we go to a pool, anyone who can’t touch the bottom wears a floaty. Our friends enforce floaty rules with their kids, my parents enfore floaty rules at their house, it’s just non-negotiable. We have found that the Speedo brand Splash Jammers are ideal – they have shoulder straps as well as arm floats, they’re approved by the Coast Guard as life jackets, and even my 1-year-old can’t get it off on his own. Target sells them. WEAR YOUR FLOATIES.
  4. Lower your standards. For real, set that bar at a level you can achieve by noon every day. Did your children eat something? Does the baby have a clean diaper? Did you remember to eat something too? Is your house clean enough that you could escape in case of a fire? Then you’re fine. Tomorrow you can put away some laundry or do the dishes. Next week you can plan a fun outing to the zoo or the splash pad. But right now, you’re doing fine. It’s fine. You’re a good parent.
  5. Have fun. This tip is sort of like “treasure every moment because you only get 18 summers with your kid before they’re old enough to leave home” but that is bad advice no one needs. The days are long but the years are short is the same thing, but again, the days are SO long it’s not helpful to remind anyone it won’t last forever. But we can try to have fun, even when we have small humans to take care of. Put on a bathing suit and get in the water with them. Have ice cream for lunch or dinner (or lunch and dinner). Roll your windows down in the car. Play music really loud and have a dance party. My kids get such a kick out of me being Fun Mom, they act surprised and delighted every time. It’s like when Fun Dad chases them around pretending to be a dinosaur or Fun Grandma lets them pick out candy at the grocery store. You can be fun too! You’re the boss, even if you bend the rules a little bit for a special treat. It won’t ruin your children forever, I promise.

Military friends! One way to make your life easier when you have a baby is getting a NO COST breast pump from The Breastfeeding Shop. If you have Tricare, all you need is a prescription from your doctor and The Breastfeeding Shop will ship a pump right to your house. If you or someone you know is pregnant or has a new baby, be sure to tell them about this program, because having a pump is a lifesaver when you’re nursing. My baby will be 2 in August and I still need my pump occasionally (yup, still nursing, nope, no plans to stop). Check out The Breastfeeding Shop’s Tricare page for more information.

Military Families: Start Strong, Stay Strong

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Thank you to P&G who sponsored this post and shared their Start Strong, Stay Strong program with me so I could help get the word out to my military family. 

It’s no secret that we just survived our first deployment as a family of 6. Five of us stayed here and lived our regular lives and one of us went out to sea on a submarine for half a year. What you probably don’t know is that even though they completed that deployment successfully, we still don’t get my husband is back for good. He’s not even back for a year, or six months. He was, in fact, home for less than 8 weeks.

start strong stay strong deployment countdown jars

The good news is this isn’t a deployment. It’s just regular routine submarine stuff. The bad news is calling it “regular routine submarine stuff” doesn’t make solo-parenting any easier or make the time go by any faster. The kids are still going to be sad, I’m still going to feel a vague sense of dread the whole time and it’s pretty much guaranteed that SOMETHING major in the house will break. Every. Single. Time. (I’m looking at you, main sewer line!)

start strong stay strong military boots

One of the benefits of having been stationed in the same place for so long is that I’ve built up a support system around me. Sometimes it’s super strong – like when I need to take Caroline to the emergency room at 9 pm and a friend rushes over to sit with the boys so I don’t have to wake them up and bring them along. Sometimes I feel very, very alone – like when the dog was diagnosed with cancer and I was standing in the vet’s office with a toddler on each hip, trying to figure out how to pay for treatment.

 

Many military families don’t stay in one place long enough to become a part of the community. As a kid we moved every 3 years (my dad was in the Coast Guard), so I’m familiar with that life too. It can be hard to connect when you know any roots you plant will just be pulled up again the next time the military needs you somewhere else. Switching schools, finding a new job, even learning which restaurants are the best or which car wash offers a military discount is all emotional labor that can take a toll on us as families supporting our servicemembers.

 

start strong stay strong boy in dress uniform hat

Recently, P&G (the company behind tons of brands you use and trust) launched the Start Strong, Stay Strong program. They are proud to partner with Operation Homefront and are committed to giving military parents all the support they deserve. The Start Strong, Stay Strong site allows you to explore your neighborhood, find or offer services, sell things via the marketplace and unlock deals and savings. I just found a great cashback offer at my commissary on the kinds of staples like Pantene and Tide I love to stock up on there!  

start strong stay strong boy in dress uniform hat

As military families, we all share many of the same frustrations, experiences, and challenges. Our best source of information is each other – who knows what to expect better than someone who has been there once or twice or ten times before? In the Start Strong, Stay Strong community, we can share our stories and celebrate our accomplishments. We’ve been here in Connecticut for more than 10 years now, I can definitely help you find the best restaurant or car wash. Whether you’re just starting out somewhere new or are staying strong to hold your family together despite the distances, you deserve all the support you can get.

The Start Strong, Stay Strong platform is new and growing, and we need your help to make it a success. Sign up, tell your friends to sign up, and join me in building this community from the beginning so we can be strong together. You can sign up here, it’s really easy. Won’t you join me?

start strong stay strong deployment homecoming

 

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