10 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer-NOT!

I am a hot mess year-round. This means that even when summer makes its appearance on my doorstep, I don’t suddenly morph into a Pinterest Mom when I’m not paying attention.

The last day of school is upon us:(Which we celebrated by ruining our dinner last night with ice cream and French fries-please don’t judge me!)

There seem to be a lot of Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer Lists blaring at me from every which way. I’m going to be shockingly honest-I won’t do a single one of them. I’m not the mom who will teach her kids how to make the Eiffel Tower out of pipe cleaners. I refuse to create things from kits.

I most likely won’t even plan educational trips to the nearest museum.

Gasp! What kind of mom am I? How dare I deprive my children. They must suffer so!!!

I’m the kind of mom who doesn’t structure every minute of our day.

I’m the Mama-type that actually makes her kids get up at a decent time, even in the summer. I still make my children do their chores. In fact, if they dare utter the words “I’m bored” they know Mama will find something for them to do.  And they probably won’t like it.

My kids get pushed outside a lot. Even if it’s hot. I do slather sunscreen on them and provide water but they’re expected to spend a fair amount of time running and jumping and bike riding and using their imaginations. 

(Mostly) unsupervised.

Our neighborhood is wonderful and safe and we know our neighbors. But even so, we have ground rules, like stick together and never go in someone’s house unless Mama says it’s ok. My oldest three are 11, 7 and 4. They have to roam together or not roam at all. I refuse to run off to the craft store for all of their creative ventures. I’m a firm believer in recycling-use what we have to make something awesome. 

Summer food? What can you make on your own? Reading? We will get books from the library by the truckload.  And video game time? Saved up for rainy days or occasionally weekends/some nights. Every day? Not a chance.

Am I the meanest mom on the block? Are my kids totally deprived?

I don’t think so.

I think I’m teaching my kids about responsibility, that if you want something you’ll need to work for it, and that using your imagination will take you places you never dreamed-until you did. I’m showing my kids that sibling love, aka your best friends, are your playmates for life and the ones you can depend on.

I’m giving them the same kind of summers I had. I don’t think my kids benefit from having everything handed to them on a platter. Thus, they will have to do stuff on their own

They will have Unstructured Time to be a kid.

Maybe you think I’m a little off my rocker. I’ll admit, with four kids underfoot it’s entirely possible.

However. I look back on my summers filled with things like making cities from cardboard boxes, catching lightning bugs in jars, creating perfume from flowers (weeds) and then trying to sell them to neighbors, taking naps under trees and using our front porch as everything from a fort to a dentist office to a school to Spy Headquarters, and I want that for my children. I want them to play until they pass out from sheer exhaustion and joy. I didn’t stop learning in the summer; I learned real and important things that I couldn’t get in school. Playing with my siblings taught me that they were my best friends. Being in charge of them while we were outside taught me responsibility. Creating things from nature or recycling taught me to use my creativity in new ways

So I hope my children will look back on summers someday and wish for their kids to have those same “deprived” summers.

Just like I did.

You can also connect with me at My Pink Champagne Life (Facebook and Instagram) or @MyPinkChampLife on Twitter!

(All photo credit Meredith Shafer 2015) ©Meredith Shafer 2015


There are lots of non-therapeutic things that I consider therapy: dancing, my Oasis time with Mr. Wonderful (which sounds fancy but it’s really just our room sans children), baths, shopping, the inhalation of copious amounts of powdered sugar doughnuts. Maybe some of them in a combo situation.

As the Mama of my house, I occasionally feel the need for some of these specialized types of therapy. Today is such a day. We started out this week kind of rough and ragged and I just looked at the calendar and realized it’s only Tuesday. How is that possible?! At least four and a half days have passed since yesterday, I’m certain.

I woke up in the throes of overwhelmingness to the point of paralysis this morning. Have you ever been there? Where the To Do List is so long but the day is so short and tightly packed that you just. Can’t. Move.

I’m still swimming through mud.

And now I’m actually at a therapy appointment…of the speech variety. Once a week one of my sons goes to speech therapy to help with all kinds of physical swallowing and speaking issues and also for an auditory processing issue.

Can I tell you how happy I am to be here?

You may not believe me, but I’m so grateful. We’ve been struggling in our family to both understand this beautiful boy and to get him to be able to focus. Or listen. Or follow directions.

There are a lot of kids in our house so I’m going to need you to follow directions!

We went through all of the frustration and testing and pulling our hair out and hoping for answers. And then, like a miracle, here we are. 

So I’m pretty excited.

And I’m trying to tell myself that this day, through the mud swimming and To Do Lists and my work junk piled on Mr. Wonderful’s desk (because it’s overrun my own), is still a day I won’t get back.

I’m starting a little late with this pep talk as it’s almost 4:00 pm, but as I’m a late bloomer in various other aspects of my life, this isn’t surprising.

Mr. Wonderful calls me the Good Idea Fairy. And she usually runs late. Which means I have a great idea a split second after it should’ve been implemented. Thank goodness Mr. Wonderful’s pretty patient.

I feel like I’m even writing in mud. My thoughts are stringing themselves together without supervision. Every letter of every sentence is t.a.k.i.n.g. f.o.r.e.v.e.r………..

There’s a good chance I may not even finish this post.


If I do, here’s what I want you to know: it’s ok to be where you are. Right now. Today. All you can do is all you can do is one of our family mottos. And it’s ok to make progress by degrees instead of leaps and bounds.

And sometimes progress involves sitting down in one place for five minutes to catch your breath.

Embrace this place. 

Surrender to the moment so you can live in each one. Learn what you can even in the ratty places and the stinky places and the boring places. It will make even those places ones of grace, despite being hard and a place you’d rather not be.

I don’t know when I’ll get my rhythm back. I’m hoping in about 15 minutes but if its not til tomorrow or next week or even next month it’ll be ok.

Because I’m going to learn from here. I’m going to take care of myself by indulging in any and probably all of my therapies. And I’m going to remember to breathe.

And sit still for a moment.

And pray.

Probably while eating a powdered sugar doughnut.

And that will be good enough. 

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015


Today is one of those days where I am, frankly, overwhelmed. The dishes are piled as high as my To Do List is long, the kids are especially feisty, and Mr. Wonderful’s PTSD is on high alert.

Every family has that perfect storm of circumstances that just makes the Mama lose her mind. Today I’m close. What to do?

When the crazy is heavy and the fan is broken from all of the $%!# hitting it, I do the only thing I can think of: run away.

Just kidding mostly. I pray. And then I put on my red lipstick and hope for the best. And I remind myself that I can be just as easily overwhelmed with the goodness in my life as I can the difficult.

So I make a list. I LOVE lists! I remind myself how great a lot of things are going in my world. Here’s my List of Awesome for today:

-red lipstick
-baby’s kisses
-our new service dog is house trained
-warm boots
-my leopard print scarf from my friend Dyani
-Speaking engagements coming up for My Pink Champagne Life
-the new fringe-y faux leather purse Mr. Wonderful got me for VDay
-health insurance
-my fedora hiding my lion’s mane today
-did I mention red lipstick?

I’d love to hear about your list! Here’s to a happy Friday afternoon!


Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015