My 3 secret ingredients to a simple, happy summer with kids

I’ve decided these are the only rules I’m really going to care about this summer.

My 3 secret ingredients to a simple, happy summer with kids

It took a week or two to decompress and rediscover my sanity after a whirlwind school year, but upon finding it, I have fallen into summer mode.

The I don’t care about much mode.

Popsicles for breakfast? Fabulous plan.

No bath or shower for days? Excellent, so long as we are hitting up the pool or sprinklers often enough that we appear clean.

Getting dressed to leave the house? Well, sometimes. But for errands and that kind of thing? Nah. No need.

Pajamas to bathing suit and back to pajamas is a quality summer day in my book.

Today, exactly 14 days into my summer vacation, I decided our house needed a list of summer rules. I erased our meal-planning chalkboard (which typically lists a dinner we served to guests three weeks prior, super helpful…) and wrote down three things. Our Keating Family Summer Rules.


1. Be Kind.

2. Create Beauty.

3. No Whining.

I’ve decided these are the only rules I’m really going to care about this summer. The rest can go. The other details that seem important sometimes just aren’t right now. I don’t want to feel my stomach tighten, my voice to get shrill, or to send adrenaline soaring throughout my body. I have better things to do with my time this summer.

Like doing nothing. ?

Well, that’s not exactly true. There are always certain commitments and places to be and things to teach and ideas to hatch and all that. But mostly, I want this to be a summer of nothing. Of open ended play and exploration. So far, it’s been lovely. My 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter have been setting up detailed pretend scenarios, going for long scooter rides, swimming, you know. Summer.

Join Motherly

With us not needing to be at school every morning, we take our time. We eat breakfast when we feel like it, I zone out and do other things, leaving them to their play for long amounts of time. They don’t need me, because we don’t need to get ready to do anything. I’ve actually sat down and read a few times. I don’t think that has happened in years.

It’s all beautiful and lovely until the sudden shriek “Mom!!!! Tucker pushed me 6 times!” or “Mommmmmmmmmm! Gracie won’t give me a turn. She’s not being fair and she’s ignoring me!!!!!!” Then my peaceful little morning gets shattered into a million pieces. Without so much other stuff going on, I do find it easier to remain level headed and supportive through these battles, but still. I often just want to say Seriously? Seriously!!? I’m enjoying a yogic moment here and you are fighting about who has more blocks?

I don’t do well with fighting. I’ve told them that I’ve understood they will have disagreements. They are siblings. They are people. All people have disagreements. But I have been clear that we won’t be solving these disagreements with mean words or actions. That our world has enough mean in it without us adding to it.

This morning’s argument over which toy race car they were allowed to cheer for in a pretend race caused me to snap. In hearing myself shout, “Just stop it!” I knew something had to change for this summer to continue in the bliss I’d imagined.

Therefore, I’ve decided these are the rules for both the children and myself. Be kind. Create beauty. No whining.

Be Kind.

When I hear the children quarreling, instead of attempting to solve it, I’ve been asking them one question. “Are you being kind?” I’ve been trying to replace my frantic “Stop it!” with a gentle reminder—“be kind!” They may be upset with one another, they may even karate chop one another, they may momentarily hate each other. But, I believe they will learn more about our world if they are reminded to stop and figure out a way to be kind. There is always a kinder solution. Additionally, this phrase encompasses the other stuff—like taking care of toys and all that—I lump it all together.

Are you being kind to your toys? Are you being kind to your body? I’m using it as a catchall, for better or for worse.

Create Beauty.

This one is as much for me as it is for the kids.

I want each moment to feel full. Full of life. Full of beauty. Full of heart. To me, that is creating beauty. The ability to take any situation, any place, any moment and fill it with love. To transform every place we meet into a thing filled with delight, or if not delight, with a full, conscious, and accepting heart.

Create beauty became my mantra years ago when I was looking for a way to empower my broken heart. The sentiment hasn’t left me, and it has become my mantra for these days of bringing small children into this world.

Make something beautiful from what stands before me. Find a way to see the light, for, every shadow was created with light. Some days it is easier than others to see the light, but I do believe, if we look hard enough, it will find us.

No Whining.

That’s fairly self-explanatory.

I have patience for many things, but whining isn’t one of them.

This goes for children and adults. As I told my 5 year old today when he countered “But Mom, sometimes I just have to whine, it happens.” That’s true. Sometimes we really want to whine. Sometimes things just aren’t going our way. We can be frustrated or sad or mad. But I would rather hear words that describe emotions and work through them and with them instead of falling into the tone of voice that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. It might be a tall order, but I do believe if we acknowledge any and all emotions, accept them, move through them, we can then find a solution. If we fall to whining immediately…well. It all seems hopeless.

And there we have it. My summer rules. Be Kind. Create Beauty. No Whining. Perhaps this might need to be tattooed on my arm to keep my own head and heart in a good place out in the adult world when summer ends.

Oh. One more. Go to bed, kids. Just go to bed. Mama is tired. Just go to bed.

Join Motherly

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play