MJ’s Summertime Hacks

5 Things Making my Summer Manageable

School has been out for almost a week here in Georgia. I know my friends in the Northeast are thinking, “What? Already?” But we go back in early August, or in some cases late July (!?!?!), so we’re out before Memorial Day. I’m sure there’s a reason.

Anyhoo, now that Fozzie (5) and Skywalker (almost 8) are home with me full-time for part of the summer — they’re doing a few weeks of day camp as well — I’m back to writing at 5:00 a.m. and using my phone to make notes at the pool or the playground. Keeping two very active boys busy without letting them use electronics for 36 hours a day is a challenge, especially for a disorganized mom, especially when those little screens make them so… pleasantly… quiet… *sigh*

So here’s how I’m coping. Maybe some of this will make your summer manageable too. Or not…

  1. I have accumulated 2 or 3 cheap makeup bags, one of which I think is actually a sock bag from IKEA. In each one I put sunscreen, bug spray, bandaids, a pen and tiny pad, and one of the kids’ card games. I am constantly switching bags in the summer – from giant mom-purse to gym bag to backpack to the huge thing we take to the pool. Having the little bags with the essentials around makes it more likely I will be able to find what I need BEFORE the kids figure out how to back the van out of the driveway themselves.
  2. I have totally lowered my expectations for the kids’ eating habits. I still try to shove healthy options (veggies, apples, fruit salad, smoothies) down their throats whenever I can. But honestly, when they ask for the 6,000th time what’s for lunch (at 9:00 a.m.) and they really want that pack of cookies, I just shrug and say “sure.”
    It’s summer!
  3. Years ago, I bought some transparent index card pockets with adhesive backing (aka, Self-Adhesive Poly Pockets) to use for plotting my stories. They are amazing, and I recommend them for anyone with an unhealthy office supply addiction like mine.
    This is as close to Pinterest-Momming as I get. Try not to judge my horrible illustrations. I’m a WRITER.

    Last week, I made a little “Today’s Activities” poster for the kids with four pockets, and pre-filled a bunch of index cards with stuff I knew we’d be doing (and stuff I want them to do, like cleaning the playroom, reading, math, errands etc.)
    I did this to prepare their little brains — and mine — for the fact that we’re not going to be TOTAL hedonists every day, and to head off the whining when I drag them to the grocery store or tell them to turn off the TV and read, dammit. For heaven’s sake, your mom is an AUTHOR. Read something!
    Ahem. The little cards have worked way better than I anticipated. The kids love them. To the point where they get kind of pissy if I forget to change them out at night. So there’s that.

  4. I can’t say enough about cheap kids’ card games. There’s a lot of waiting around in summertime – sudden rainstorms, weird little pockets of time between activities. And the Law of Restaurant Exhaustion, which states that the more tired and fidgety your children are when you arrive at a restaurant, the longer it will take to get your food. Our worn pack of UNO has kept us from being thrown out of many fine establishments.
  5. And finally, a very important PSA: those giant, fist-sized marshmallows at the grocery store SEEM like they would make amazing S’Mores, but they don’t. Too big, not melty enough. Throws off the whole sugar-to-fire ratio. Save yourself $1.99 and many campfire tears; stick with the old-school, standard size marshmallows. But yes, yes, yes, to subbing out the standard Hershey bar with a Reese’s peanut butter cup.
    A little hedonistic, but hey, it’s summer!


Julie J. and Sandra R., you’re my winners!

You probably know by now that I am doing weekly giveaways all summer long – my books, other great romance/women’s fiction reads, swag, etc. If you’re not on my email list, sign up today to be entered every week.

Julie J. won the big kickoff prize: a signed copy of the entire Marriage Pact trilogy, and Sandra R. was selected for a couple of great books by Denise Grover Swank and Kianna Alexander. (Ladies, please check your email for a note from me and reply with your mailing address!)

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MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a Distracted Writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction -- her latest, SUGAR STREET released on 8/7/18. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

2 thoughts on “MJ’s Summertime Hacks”

  1. Monica KishMonica Kish

    Thank you for always making me laugh! Laughter is good for the soul so I guess that means you’re good for my soul!

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