Summer Survival Guide For The Stressed Out Parent

If you're a parent, you know good and well that summer is not what it used to be. 

There is no such thing as a slow, relaxing summer Saturday spent lounging by the pool with a good book in hand. Gone are the days of day-drinking with your friends or enjoying an al fresco happy hour on the patio of the hottest new restaurant in town. Those things have now been replaced with long, stressful days spent trying to entertain small people who say "I'm bored" every 14 seconds and "I'm hungry" as they're polishing off the 37th snack of the morning. Or, if your kids are older, your afternoons are spent carting them from activity to activity while yelling at everyone to reapply sunscreen and sweating in places you didn't even know you could sweat. 

Not having a consistent schedule during summer can be tough-- trust me, I am living that reality as we speak. Luckily, having a six-year-old, four-year-old and one-year-old has taught me a thing or two about parenting, the most important thing being that we parents have to stick together and share the wealth when we find things that work (and share the wine when one of us runs out.)

Hang in there, everyone. Soon it'll be November, and we'll all be onto a new batch of complaints -- you know, bitching about the frigid temps and having to spend time with our in-laws over the holidays. But for now, here are a few tips and tricks to help you sail through summer semi-unscathed. 

Buy an inflatable water slide. NOW.
Inflatable baby pools aren't going to cut it anymore for kids these days. Nope. Kids these days will laugh in your face if you show up with a plastic kiddie pool from Walmart. Today's kids are spoiled and entitled and bored with everything (no? Just mine? Cool.) The things that used to bring me unadulterated summer joy as a child (a water hose, some chalk and a bug catcher was my nirvana) don't bring anything more than an indifferent sigh from my kids. I blame this on a lot of factors, but mainly on Jojo Siwa.

Anyway, desperate times call for desperate measures, so we bit the bullet and got a ridiculously enormous inflatable water slide in hopes of saving summer. Yes, it's pricey, but I told myself it'd be worth it to sacrifice a month or two of nice dinners or new clothes or food/rent/medical care/all other essential expenses if it meant my kids would leave me alone and play for more than 10 minutes at a time. If the price tag is too obnoxious for you, then another idea is to go in together with a neighbor and split the cost.

Get a "Sibling Shirt"
Kids bicker A LOT more during summer break, it's just a fact. When I ran out of conventional parenting tactics, I turned to the only thing that usually helps me solve all my problems: Amazon. I ordered a size XXL T-shirt from Amazon, named it "The Sibling Shirt," and I now force my two older kids to wear the shirt together until they get along. So far, it's only served as an excuse for the older one to drag the younger one around against her will, so the verdict is still out on whether this works or not. I will provide an update soon.

Stock up on alcohol
I feel like this one is a no-brainer, but it needs to be reiterated because sometimes (always?), a margarita is better and cheaper than a therapist. When you say to yourself, "Man, this has been a long day!" and then you look up at the clock and see that it's only 9:47 am, it's time to start chilling the chardonnay, guys. And do you know what pairs well with maddening toddler meltdowns in 104 degree weather? Rose. It really cleanses the palate after your four-year-old flushes a diaper down the toilet and then yells "shiiiit!" SO FRIENDS TELL ME. I have never experienced this situation before. Nope, never...

Make Unnecessary Home Improvements
Do you know the best way to pass the time during a long, hot summer with antsy kids? Do unnecessary home improvements that could definitely wait and that you may not even have the money or skill-level to do, but you obviously do them anyways.

For example, after a particularly long, hard day with the kids, I *very rationally* decided that I hated one of the big bushes in our front yard. Why did I hate that bush? What did it do to deserve this? All it had ever done is grow a few pretty flowers, house a few birds' nests and make our landscaping look symmetrical and balanced. But while the kids were eating dinner, I took a pair of huge branch cutters and annihilated the sucker and felt oddly better about life in general.

The next unnecessary improvement? After another long, hard day with kids, I *very rationally* decided that I hated the color of our kitchen cabinets. So I hired a painter to rope off our entire kitchen and repaint them... while all three of my kids are home for the summer, wanting three meals a day, every day...and I couldn't access my kitchen for a week... that was dicey. But afterwards I had fresh, new cabinets and a fresh, new attitude to deal with the next long, hot summer day. There's a method to my madness, okay?

Have "Official" Movie Nights
Make the movies your kids are already watching 476 times in a row more special with an official movie night. All that means is buying an inexpensive popcorn popper from Amazon and making some homemade popcorn, putting said popcorn into a cute movie popcorn box, making a huge pallet on the ground with blankets and pillows and stringing an old string of Christmas lights around the TV for special ambiance. Voila! You've just broken up the monotony of endless summer screen time and scored several hours of uninterrupted silence.

Make Homemade Snowcones
A cool $30 can make you the proud owner of a shaved ice machine that you can whip out in the dead heat of a long afternoon when everyone is at each other's throats and you're at the end of your rope. You'll be everyone's favorite parent for at least 15 minutes and honestly, that's 14.5 more minutes than usual. BONUS: it can also be used to make margaritas and frozen cocktails. Everyone wins!

Suck Up To People With Pools
If you don't have access to a pool, which we don't, you better start sucking up to those lucky pool owners. Like, yesterday. Bat your eyelashes, show some leg, slide into those DMs, sleep with someone-- do whatever it takes to score that invite. It's for the kids, ok???

Cry Alone In Your Car 
When all else fails, another tried and true tactic you can always employ is resorting to your car, locking the doors, turning on dirty rap music at full blast (I recommend Lil Wayne or Gucci Mane, but you do you) and having yourself a good cry. Other crying locations to try: your closet, the laundry room (because no one in my family ever goes in there!), or if you're feeling really daring, at the dinner table in front of everyone while eating your lukewarm chicken.