You can hear your heart beating in your ears. There are wheezing sounds that you can only assume must be your breath. There are people talking and yelling, but it sounds muffled, like you’re hiding under the covers. Then you realize you are under the covers. And those people talking are your kids, asking where their packed lunch is. But fear not—the end is in sight! It’s the last day of school, and after today you can finally RELAX!

HA HA HA HA! That’s a good joke, right? Mom gets the summer off, you say? In truth that’s when Mom’s work really begins. Lucky for you our Chatbooks “party girl” Event Planner, Ricki, has some advice on easing summer stress.

“The last day of school, you can find me singing Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out!” said Rikki. “No more frenzied mornings! No more late night homework assignments! No more school lunches to pack! I remember summers growing up and how much I loved them: time with my friends, swimming all day, late nights playing Ghost in the Graveyard—and I want me kids to have fond memories of their summers too. BUT. I also need some semblance of normalcy and routine.” Raising seven kids, Rikki has fine-tuned her summer mothering and has a few great tips to make your summer fun and manageable.

Go play! “First things first,” said Rikki. “I have to remind my kids that it is not my job to entertain them. That may sound harsh to some people, but my work as a mother and at Chatbooks is year round, so getchyo self outside and play in the yard!” Rikki is a firm believer that it’s okay for kids to be bored. It forces them to use their imagination and learn how to entertain themselves.

The kitchen is closed! “Nothing can whip me into a mothering frenzy faster than cleaning the kitchen, only to return moments later to cereal, bread, chips, and plates scattered all over the counter again,” said Rikki. So she has instituted what she calls “kitchen hours,” which include times allotted for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a few snacks in between. “It prevents kids from grazing cause they’re bored, and I’m not being eaten out of house and home.” When in doubt, cut up a whole watermelon, put it in a huge bowl with several forks, and leave it on the porch. It will make everyone happy.

You’re bored??? This is Rikki’s favorite tip and one that she uses year round. “I have a running list of chores that always need to be done,” said Rikki. “If I hear someone mutter that they’re bored, I’ve got the remedy!” It becomes a 2-for-1: Rikki can check something off her to-do list, and the kids suddenly find themselves very busy. 😈

This ain’t no frat house! Don’t get it twisted—Rikki loves a good party. But even the party bus needs gas sometimes! “Bedtime becomes more relaxed in the summer,” said Rikki. “I don’t mind a few late nights here and there, but kids (and I) need sleep. Otherwise, they get cranky (and I get angry).” Long ago, Rikki and her husband decided to create a home where kids and teens would want to hang out. “I love when my house is full to the brim with loud, happy sounds,” said Rikki. “We want our people to always want to be near. So being okay with a certain level of noise and chaos is a must. But we definitely have a ‘last call’ mentality too. Everyone needs downtime.”

When it all seems a tad overwhelming, keep in mind that there are just 18 summers with your kids at home! (Did that put a lump in your throat or what!?) Rikki’s oldest son has just two summers left, and you can already find Rikki humming, “School’s out for summer…” Rikki added, “I love time with my family, and summer gives me all the time I could want!” She lives for the downtime and for watching her kids create the same fond memories that she still enjoys about her own childhood summers.

 

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Rikki Anderson is the little sister of our own Chatbooker-in-Chief, Vanessa Quigley. Rikki is a Florida transplant, living in the shadows of Utah’s mountains. She’s been married for 17 years, has seven kids, two cats, a dog, and a neverending to-do list. Most of the time you can find her at her kids’ sporting events or trying to pressure her husband into just one more cat.