Summer is now in full swing and the kids are home with us all day, every day. Let me say that again — All day. Every day.

There are pros to this, of course. No early morning alarms, lots of hugs and snuggle time, and not having to come up with a sack lunch every morning that has some nutritional value and that your kids will actually eat.

But, there are cons too. Like the other night when I asked my husband if I still had a personality, or if I had become a robot who hands out snacks, gathers wet towels and says “shut the door!” on repeat. Because I felt like the robot.

I love my kids like crazy. I want to be with them 99% of the time and hear what they have to tell me 99% of the time… but man that other 1% can feel like a lot to handle! Being in the “mom” role every minute, everyday, all summer can be draining.

When you start feel that strain, it is important to schedule time for yourself to remember that you are still you. I have five kids and no family in town but here is what I’ve come up with that works for me.

  • Get up earlier, or stay up later than usual. Nothing beats the sound of a quiet house where everyone is sleeping! I can watch a show that makes me laugh, read a book, drink a cup of coffee or putter around my garden. The world feels like my oyster! I can think actual thoughts! I find that even 30 minutes all to myself — either in the morning or at night — can recharge me for the day ahead, and it is worth the lost sleep in the long run.
  • Hire some help! I read something online once that said, “It takes a village to raise a child... and sometimes you have to pay the villagers.” If you don’t have family in town to watch your kids or they aren’t as available as you might need, summer is a perfect time to try out a new babysitter. Lots of high schoolers and middle schoolers are home for the summer, bored, and looking for some extra money. Your kids will enjoy having a fresh and enthusiastic playmate, and you will enjoy driving away to do whatever it is that you want to do. I have been known to consider napping in my van.
  • Institute a “Quiet Rest” time. Sadly, 5/5 of my children no longer nap. But, not a day goes by that I do not bellow (lovingly!) “Quiet Rest Time!” at about 2:00 pm and send all of my little darlings to their rooms to read or play quietly. They may not come out unless blood is involved. I take the next 30 minutes to regroup, clean up from lunch, take a quick doze on the couch, or zone out on Instagram. Whatever the day calls for! Everyone comes out feeling more refreshed and happy to see each other. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries for yourself during your day.
  • Reach out! To your spouse, family members, that babysitter I mentioned, or a fellow mom friend. Tell someone that you are feeling like your head might implode with all of the need and bickering and hungry mouths that are surrounding you all day this summer. Ask to schedule a time for you to escape and spend some time by yourself or with some friends. Set up a childcare-share with someone in the same boat as you and trade off weeks. Get creative, but first, get vulnerable. I think you will find that people are willing to help and that, most of all, you are not alone in your struggle.

Hang in there, mamas. Summer is a beautiful, chaotic and fun time with our kids. Embrace the chaos. You are amazing, and your kids think so too. Keep telling them to shut that stupid door, and take a deep breath when you can.

It will be autumn soon enough.

Caitlin Harris is a Portland native who now happily lives in Douglas County with her husband and five boys.

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