No-Pressure Summer and Lowered Expectations {thoughts from a mom who is bad at summer}


summer mom


I am not good at summer and am not the summer mom of my kids’ dreams.

I love the structure of the school year, to-do lists, color-coordinated planning, blocks of time to work, and designated activities with times and dates certain.

I am also not a sun person. I burn easily and sweat profusely. My children are similarly fair-skinned, and applying sunblock to small people every 60 minutes is like wrestling alligators. 

Summer in our house often means that I am running myself ragged in a desperate attempt to keep my children from whining and screaming. 

Two summers ago, I over-scheduled my older child in camp. She ended up overtired and cranky. Last summer, having learned from my mistakes, I under-scheduled her. That backfired too.

This summer, I went for a happy medium – a few weeks of camp for each kid, swim lessons, visits to the grandparents, and a family vacation. I am winging the rest.

I have been apprehensive at best, given my track record.

My husband’s best parenting advice to me has always been to lower the expectations I have set for myself. This summer, I entered the month of June with zero expectations in an effort to not let myself down. I put away all preconceived notions of what summer “should” be. I also tried to check some of my type-A anxieties at the door. I am even embracing (okay, maybe just tolerating) unstructured time. I am trying to not sweat the small stuff, though I am still sweating and reapplying sunblock like it’s my job. 

I have also been employing a more “laissez faire” approach to parenting. No more sitting on the floor playing pretend with my kids. Please don’t think I am an ogre mom. We snuggle, read stories, go to lots of fun places, and dance to loud music (among tons of other fun things). But I’ve stopped entertaining them inside of our house. So far, these efforts seem to be helping us navigate a less-structured summer vacation. 

Every day I strive to be a better mom. Just as I make an effort to find constructive ways to communicate with my children (a/k/a not yelling though I may desperately want to), I am also striving to find a balance between structure and lack thereof. Finding that balance is a life skill that I am always working on. My role as a parent often takes me outside of my comfort zone in order for me to teach my children the value of unstructured time.

Me, myself, and I are works in progress, as is my approach to summer.

Are you bad at summer too? What are some things you do to be a better summer mom?

Previous articleDance Recitals: The Neverending Story
Next articleMotherhood Lately, According to {more} Memes
Hilary was born and raised in New York City. She moved to Connecticut after college to go to graduate school, where she met her husband Dan on their very first day. She now lives in Ridgefield with her husband and their two rugrats, a daughter C (born 2013) and a son L (born 2015). She works from home as an attorney, which would be completely impossible without coffee (for mom) and television (for the rugrats). She spends most of her free time (when there is any!) reading, drawing, and listening to lots of music. You can find her over at, where she documents the humor of life through all things colorful.


  1. Hilary, I appreciate you coming clean – this helped me with my mom guilt. I don’t want to entertain them either! I love them, the cuddles, the books, the card games and I do enjoy a fun game of hide n seek because it gets us moving and they have to practice being very quiet. 🙂 Great job! Happy Summer!! From here it looks like you’re doing an amazing job!

  2. Thanks, Meghan! I also feel guilty telling them no when they ask me to play. But figuring out how to entertain yourself is a legitimate life skill. Yesterday we spent most of the day at the beach, and they first thing my six-year-old asked me when we got home was “can you play with me?” The more time I give them, the more they want, so sometimes you just have to make them entertain themselves!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here