Usually I am over-the-moon excited for the controlling schedules of school to come to an end.  I drool when I hear the word “summer.”  We do our “summer goals” (HERE and HERE) and we are productive and still work in some lazy/fun stuff.
But this year I’m kind of freaking out.
I think the reason is that I’m not ready.  I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants way too long.  I don’t have my summer mapped out.  We haven’t prepared for our summer goals.  And most of all, my kids aren’t listening to me.
And that is a bad combination.
Boy oh boy, I have been dishing out lectures right and left to my those sweeties of mine like they are going out of style the last week or two.  
And I’m pretty sure by now that the lecture tactic isn’t working:)  By the end of my rants I realize it’s not even those cutie pie kids who are not listening anyway that I’m mad at (well, kind of), but it’s ME I’m more mad at because I’m the one who isn’t following through.  And I’m the one not training them well enough.  I’m the one who says things like, “It’s time to go!  Everyone in the car!” and I don’t get in the car because I’m trying to finish off thirteen things before I get there.  So of course they don’t believe that it’s really time to get in the car.
I get it.  
But I need to do something about it.
Man, parenting is no cakewalk I tell you!
I’m the one not disciplined enough to get enough sleep so I can be peaceful and “SHINE,” which, by the way, is my “one word” for this year.  I can’t seem to get my act together enough to even write about all my thoughts and grand visions about it.  I LOVE that word.  But man alive, I’m not doing it.  I think that’s why I haven’t carved out time to write about it yet this year.  What I’m envisioning and what is happening aren’t in sync.  Not even close.
Anyway, there I go on my ranting again…
There’s this weird chain of events that goes on: My heart races trying to get things done, then I stay up way too late trying to get those darn things done so that tomorrow can be all calm and peaceful.  But then tomorrow comes and I’m too tired and grumpy for any shining and peacefulness and then I look around and get frustrated that we still don’t have any window coverings or toilet paper holders.  
Or towel hooks.  
Or drawers.
And the whole group of decisions I was supposed to make the day before are still waiting impatiently for me to go ahead and wrap them up already.  
So, today, this last full day before that last school bell rings at noon tomorrow, freeing us from school craziness, I need to get my act together.  I’ve been calling some of my example friends: The ones who’s kids’ eyes don’t go into rotation when they push them and make them memorize or when they make them sit down and read a book or practice for three hours (for reals I do have a friend who’s kids practice for three hours a day…nicely and with no eye-rolling).  
Summer can be a lot of pressure.  Of course it’s good to relax and enjoy that wonderful time we get to have together (can’t wait! that’s what Bear Lake is all about).  But I want so much for this to be productive time too.  I want to concentrate on getting piles of books read and doing some adventures that mean something.  And that stuff needs to be planned out.

Maybe my biggest problem is that I just don’t want this precious time to slip away and look back and realized we let it slip by.    
Summer time is golden time.  I want so much to take advantage of every second I get these kids to myself.  I just need to gear up the right way.
Please send ideas on over if you have them.  For now I’m off to browse through the Parenting Breakthrough and check out the awesome summer ideas at Power of Moms HERE (they always have the best ones…love you Sar!).   I just skimmed my summer stuff from a couple years ago back HERE complete with job/journal jars and all that jazz and I’m starting to calm down a little.  phew.


I just need to remember to breathe and remember “life is long.” (my favorite quote from my wise mother.)  


  1. Hi Shawni, your post reminds me of a recent article about the productivity that can result from daydreaming (and a less-structured summer schedule). It said that "Mark Twain, during an enormously productive summer of writing in 1874, spent entire days daydreaming in the shade of Quarry Farm in New York, letting his mind wander, thinking about everything and nothing at all, and, in the end, publishing "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." It's a concept that I have been thinking of lately. Perhaps this could be a Less is More summer for all of us! Here's a link to the article, worth a read:

  2. So glad you posted this! I was sitting here stressing out over summer starting with my kids Ina couple of days and like you, am freaked out by not having a plan in place yet or any ideas. I just ordered your sister's guide and am super excited to have a plan! With a new baby at home and my super busy 5 and 7 year old, I needed someone to do the majority of the thinking and planning for me or else it just wouldn't get done. I'm really looking forward to a better, more structured summer with my two big kids and making some fun memories that don't include a crazed, scrambling by the seat of her pants all the time mama :0).

  3. Two of your kids are old enough to take summer classes and/or get a job. Do all the kids need it?

    All your kids are invovled in sports. And you provide a summer at a place full of activities. Do they really need to carve out time to be active?

    You read scriptures every morning as a family and participate in services. Do you really need to work on their spiritual sides? I can see having them do something like reading or workbooks or writing over the summer, for those not in classes. Your high schoolers have a reading list. There may be science class session for a couple weeks or music camp for even your elementary kids during the summer.

    With the move I would think keeping it simple would be called for this year? Things really are not inorder to put things away. Declare a month of allowance with no strings attached. Everyone who is home spend 30 minutes cleaning as things are needed. Make a time to keep the other kids out of the house, the ones that are not yours, for a time in the morning so you can get things done.

  4. Maybe you want way too much. I don`t get the bucket-list-thing. Never had it when I was a kid. I mean I sometimes did go to youth camp or took a language course, and I traveled with my family and we almost always visited family, but that was it. Summer time was golden for me because I had NO list and NO jobs and NO projects going on. I had plenty of time for myself. For daydreaming, hanging out with friends, swimming in the lake…and oh boy, am I ever thankful for that ( and all the memories taht come from doing "nothing"!!!

  5. Ok already I'm feeling less stressed because it's SO true that summer needs to just be relaxed. I'm with you there and I need to remember that. I definitely don't want to structure every minute. I want lazy days. I crave that. But in our family we all do much better with a plan in place, and I just need to figure out that balance. With older kids and a neighborhood chock-full of kids I may never SEE my kids if I dont' put a plan in place. So I just need to sit down and work that out. And help these kids get through these last finals. Ouch they are tough this year!

  6. Given your new game space if you want the kids to hang out in the afternoon or evening just buy a trunkful of food at costco extra each week and feed them.

    They have five weeks with their friends and then they are out of state then back to school.

  7. Yeah! Can't wait to read all the comments. I actually just finished typing up my kids summer job charts. I know EXACTLY what you mean…yes we all want to relax but summer is an important time. So much reading can be done, activities, family time…and I if I just let it be a free for all my children would play video games all day. I don't want that to happen!

  8. Hmmmm…I just read some of the comments hoping for ideas and they seem a little negative πŸ™

    Come on people…kids do need structure and responsibility. Shawni isn't saying to make all of their day into a strict schedule. But with five children (or really with any number of children) it is imperative that you maintain some kind of order. And as a former teacher and wife of a teacher I am telling you YES…you need to make your children read over the summer. And do a bit of math and writing if you can as well. Get a little chart going…have them do a job or two around the house, practice piano, read, and do some math. And then life can be more relaxed. Plan some fun activities…museums, little trips, etc. I find that if we don't plan them, we don't do them. And while it is nice to have a "lazy" summer…it's also fun to do and learn things!

  9. Sorry…just wanted to post one more suggestion for you and your readers. For a little daily summer math work that takes a very short period of time, buy your kids "Math Minutes" workbooks. You can get them on Amazon. My kids are pretty good at math so I have gotten them the next year up…but you can always get them their current grade as a review. There are 100 pages (about as many days as in the summer) and they take no more than 5 minutes. Fast math review. The answers are in the back so you can check them. They have grades 1-8. I HIGHLY recommend them πŸ˜‰

  10. I was feeling stressed that summer was upon us not long ago, I felt I wasn't ready or that we didn't have our plans all "planned" out, and I am a huge planner, list maker… and then I just new things would fall into place and would all be just fine. Between our family vacation, church camps, cheer camp, it did work out and everything is spread throughout the summer, and there is plenty of "lazy days" also, now I feel much more at peace!

  11. I completely understand! I was just feeling the same way a couple weeks ago. Then something amazing happened. I decided to do something I already knew how to do (and I'm guessing you do too). Just prioritize. Everything that MUST be done today.
    That gave me so much more freedom to say to myself, it doesn't matter if I'm sitting here reading with my kids and nothing else is getting done, because THIS is a priority to me. I am getting the important things done.
    And vise versa, when I'm ignoring my kids to get other projects done, it helps me to know that I'm not always like this and there is an end in sight, because I'm going to get this project done and then move on. I don't scramble all day and realize I didn't accomplish the right things.
    Kinda long, sorry. You are a great mom. Just realize there will always be something to do. Just make sure you are CHOOSING what you are doing….Good luck!

  12. I read this quote from Elder Perry yesterday (from April conference) "While some very intelligent and insightful people might believe our more complex time demands ever more complex solutions, I am far from convinced they are right. Rather, I am of the frame of mind that today’s complexity demands greater simplicity". This might help your situation (maybe not!). It sounds like you are an amazing Mum who does an insane amount of things both for your family and for others. You know what is best for you and your family, but I'm a big proponent of simplicity. Like you said it's all about balance. Good luck! I'm sure you'll have a great summer.

  13. I think every deliberate mother is way too hard on herself. I know I can be. Have you read Hands Free Mama? She has a blog and a book out now. Fabulous, mind changing stuff.
    Also, the recent conference talk by Sister Reeves is a fantastic reality check for me when I feel overwhelmed by all that I want to do and all that I need to do vs. All that I can actually do.

  14. I was not trying to be negative but supportive of letting go.

    They just got off a very business season. I recall her saying she was relying on others to get the daughter at practice far too many times. They are all adjusting. They have a month to be structured. Less if more family trips planned. Their summer is short. Her kids are doing well with school and activities.

    I like her sisters approach to summer. One day an outing, Thursday. One day a water event like sprinklers, Tuesday. It seemed they regularly did hikes and bike rides though I can't remember if it was always on a specific day. She made the house attractive as the go to house. I think the kids earned points for cooperating and being nice to one another and doing tasks and earned a day at the water park. They took advantage of trips to the library and farmers market concerts. It just seemed more simple. The kids knew what to expect of the day. She did not feel overwhelmed. It didn't cost an arm and a leg.

  15. Summer is precious and I know for me having some kind of "plan" helps me to find more JOY in my mothering. Being INTENTIONAL about what "adventures" we will explore together – planning stinkin FUN things to do together as a family! All those beautiful memories and moments mixed in with the total crazies and me REMINDING myself OVER and OVER again to get on all fours and laugh and have more fun with them.

    Right now, we've just started "FIVE IN A ROW" – geared more for ages 4-8. "Beyond Five in a Row" is for ages 8-12. There's a list of great children's books and you explore the love the learning through each one. For ex: This week we're reading "A Pair of Red Clogs" and learning about Japan, painting a Japan flag, doing fish printing, lessons on honesty, fun activities about weather, etc … all related to one book! It has been SO much fun!

    Just one idea for moms out there. Enjoy your summer!!

  16. Hi Shawni–this s a great post and I think most moms would get what you're trying to say! And it was great of you to respond to initial comments. What you may or may not realize is that these words would seem more appropriate from a mom that was in a funk. It comes off as an eye roller to most when you blog that you spend all of your days as such a deliberate mom taking care of 6 fantastic kids and building a brand new home (which looks so great )'s your blog so you can vent about any of your worries, it's just that you opened yourself up to hear all the reassurances (positive and negative) that you are a great mom!

  17. Shawni, you're doing amazingly well. A move is HUGE. Life is plain out of sync for a while after moving. Your summer will be beautiful and full. Because that's who you are. Planning aside. You're doing a marvelous job with your children. Hang in!

    And I laughed so hard about telling your kids to get in the car, then doing 13 extra things before making it there yourself. I do the exact same thing!

  18. My motto is "Less is More" and for me it applies to summer as well. Yes, my boys still have to practice piano and their instruments, they still have to read every day, and they have to do their chores (everyday basics). There are optional jobs they can do for some extra money. We have planned some fun outings but that is it. Nothing crazy structured (although I don't let them sleep all day, they only get an extra 30 minutes in the mornings to sleep in). Summer is all about less for us but more time together as a family.

  19. I would say RELAX and BREATHE! And remember the most important thing is to love your children — everything else is just details when it comes to parenting.

    Also, life is NOT long, it is short! My husband, who was 37, just passed away unexpectedly from a Pulmonary Embolism, leaving me a young widow with 4 children. (It has been about 2 months.) I witnessed his last 3 breaths. His last words which he screamed in a panic were, "I CAN'T BREATHE!"

    So breathe… just breathe!

    From the recent experiences I have had with the death of my beautiful sweetheart, I have learned that each day is a gift, to love, and cherish. You never know which day — or which breath — will be your last.

    All the charts, and plans, and details are not so important when it comes down to it. What is ultimately important is LOVE!

    Just scoop your sweet babies up and LOVE them! (And squeeze your hubby extra tight too!)

    Life is SHORT, trust me, I know! So slow down, and be at peace, and make time to shine — everything else will work out.

    I love your beautiful family!

    (I blog @ so you can see I am a real person.)

    1. Mari,
      I'm so sorry about your husband, it must be so hard for you & your children.

      My Mum died from the same thing in Dec '99 & the shock was terrible. Even now 14 1/2 years later I can't plan beyond a week.

      I want you to know that I'm thinking of you & your family at this difficult time. Will remember you all in my prayers. X

  20. Thanks for sharing!! You are so inspiring to me πŸ™‚ My favorite scripture is D&C 123:17…it gets me through the times when I feel like you do today πŸ™‚ Hope it helps!

  21. I have no answers for this as I think these decisions are so individual both for each child and for the mother trying to guide them through the summer, but I do think self-motivation on the part of our kids is one hundred times better than a plan not everyone is fully engaged in.

    I LOVE this TED talk about what really motivates people:

    He boils it down to autonomy, the belief that you can master something, and the belief that you are doing something that will make the world a better place.

    We talk about this all the time around here, and the one success I have seen is that my kids practice their instruments without complaining (my older two kids want to be musicians so they practice around four hours a day, but my younger kids, who do not want to be musicians, do their two hours without complaint) Our mantra is, by the time you are eighteen you will either be able to play the "French Horn" or whatever instrument, or you will not. The choice is yours. And most days, when they are doing a good job envisioning themselves at 18 or 30 or 65, they choose to have that skill rather than not.

  22. Sometimes I think we can spend days and weeks and more reading books on how to do what we need to do and seeing how others do it through conversation and blogs and what have you and even more time searching through pinterest and the internet looking for the cutest most clever visual to go along with our ideas. If we just spent that time actually doing what needed to get done…. πŸ™‚ It's easy to go down that "planning" rat hole and never actually get to the plan.

    Just Do It! You can, and it will be a summer with great memories for you and your family.

  23. Hi…You mentioned that you wanted to get more reading done. Me too, so I have downloaded this app onto my phone where I can download audiobooks and listen to them throughout the day. Folding laundry…doing dishes….driving…anytime. I have read 3 books in the last week and a half. If your interested I am using "Audible" but there are many available. Have a great summer….Michelle from Canada.

  24. This make me feel so much more normal πŸ˜‰ I just sat down this morning to "plan" our summer…we have 3 ages 4 & under and it gets HOT around here in the summer…I need more indoor activities so that they don't just ask to watch tv all day! I guess it doesn't get easier the older they get, either. Love your blog πŸ˜‰ thank you for all that you share!

  25. Well, remember that you just moved. That kind of transition, even when it isn't to a new town or state, is enough to throw anyone's mojo into a tailspin–Mom, Dad, and kids. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

  26. Shawni, it's easy to see that you "SHINE" every day. You may not feel like it, but you absolutely do. Hang in there, and ENJOY this summer however you choose to. πŸ™‚

  27. I just want you to know that I think you are amazing! I love reading your blog. I totally feel where you are coming from- We are at the end of building a house, and will probably be spending the first week of summer moving πŸ™‚ One thing that we have done the past few years is not plan anything the first few days of summer. The kids just relax and decompress from a super busy year. After the first few days they are bored and then we get to the structure and planning that we need πŸ™‚ I think it's helpful to plan with the kids. I'm so excited to add goals to our plans this year- what a great idea!

  28. I was totally nodding my head on the "maybe I just don't want this summer to slip away" part! That is totally how I feel. We are moving into a new house tomorrow and I just want to get that under control so that in 2 weeks when we get out of school I can be ready with my plan and really embrace this time!

  29. I know you have a ton of readers and they've probably said this already, but I think you're doing very well. My mom (mother of 8) always says to me (mother of 4) "You're doing better than you think you are. You can't see it when you're in the middle of it."
    I understand how you feel, but I just wanted to say, I think you're doing very well.

  30. On your daughter's goal sheet where it says "become friends with Nephi and Abinadi"-how do you define "friends" and how did you come up with this idea?

  31. Oprah and Deepak Chopra do these great meditations. You can look them up. They do a free one every now and again but they are sooooo worth buying a series. The last one was Finding Your Flow and it was amazing! I would definitely make time to do a meditation once a day. Even if it is while you are going to sleep. They make me fall asleep right away. Good luck!

  32. Thanks for being so honest and real. I am so much like you in that I stay up so late trying to get everything done so tomorrow can be calm, but then I'm just cranky (or, worse, I go back to bed after the kids are off to school!).

    I really want to work on getting rid of the electronics addictions around here. My friend did a Tech Free July last summer and she said it was amazing. I don't know if I could do it…but man, I'm tempted.

  33. Oh my! That one little story about getting on the car has made huge impact on me. I do this All the time and my kids are little, so they really need the example. Thank you!

  34. What aboug just doing as little as possible and just concentrate on building relations ships. Sometimes kids just need to do nothing (I do not mean being lazy). Just nothing that need to be achieved. Term time is so full of all that. Just spend days at home having nothing planned, spending time peacefully in the house not having to rush anyware. I think that is our biggest problem today, to many activities and to do list. Be quiet and and listen to Jesus voice. HE will achieve it all. πŸ™‚

  35. I haven't read through all of the comments on this post, but I just wanted to say that I love "shine" as your word of the year. I followed in your steps and instituted this one word tradition last year and that was my word. I'm not sure I was so very fantastic at it, but it was a good reminder to have in the back of my mind – I blogged about it when I chose it back here if you want to read it

    This year my word is LOVE. I need to focus on doing things out of love for the people I love rather than out of necessity or obligation. I'm miserably failing. But the year's only half over, right?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *