a peek inside the fishbowl

25 Jul, 2010

Summer survival

Posted by andrea tomkins in: parenting

Some time ago I came up with a handy dandy summer survival motto for my mom-self: One Thing Every Day.

The Things I’m referring to are activities I do with the girls. The idea here is that I do at least ONE THING with the girls every day – big or small – and the rest of the time they’re either on their own or asleep. :)

Small things can include:

Big things can include:

  • Organizing a date with friends (meeting friends for breakfast is one of my favourite things to do)
  • Going to see a movie
  • Going on a roadtrip, or a hike, or both
  • Going to the art gallery, the fair, the museum
  • Checking out the local waterpark (Mont Cascades has totally dropped the price of admission this summer, so do yourself a favour and skip busy Calypso for now.)
  • Hosting a lemonade stand
  • Writing invitations and hosting a teddy bear picnic

… you get the picture. I know I’m using the word “big” pretty loosely here – all things are relative – but in a way it refers to energy expenditure. Some days I just have so little of it to go around. 

Whether or not you tell your kids about your One Thing Every Day plan is up to you. I haven’t. It’s just something I have in the back of my mind. It prevents me from totally vegging out, and/or sitting in front of the computer all day and allowing the three us of to loll around the house, pyjama clad and unwashed all day long. (Although that might be fun too.)

The other day we had a picnic lunch. We didn’t even go very far from the house (in this case it was in the backyard):

Picnic lunch

… and Piper got a little something too:

 Piper's rawhide

Great thing about the picnic idea is that the girls were actually happy to come grocery shopping with me in preparation.

They are hilarious, and so creative. On Friday we had a movie night. To my surprise the girls took it upon themselves to design a movie poster, make tickets and organize a raffle. (!) Mark won a book that’d been lost in the basement.

The beauty of the One Thing Every Day plan is that it:

  1. (a) Gives kids something to look forward to. 
  2. (b) Allows parents to say things like: “Henry, we can’t go to see the monster trucks, we’re having friends over for lunch today instead!” Because sometimes I feel like I can ONLY DO one thing.
  3. (c) It makes me feel like we’re doing something together as a family.
  4. (d) It shakes things up a little bit and makes ordinary things (like meals) a little more fun. 
  5. (e) If I do one thing with the girls I can give myself permission to work, compose overdue emails and occasionally nap in the afternoon. :)

I don’t want to snooze my summer away, it’s just too short, you know what I mean?

6 Responses to "Summer survival"

1 | Finola

July 25th, 2010 at 8:51 am


I love this. I think the most brilliant part is not telling the kids about this plan, because then they won’t be asking all day long when the event will start. Also, if you do miss one day for whatever reason, you will be the only one who knows.

2 | Lynn

July 25th, 2010 at 9:11 am


I love this plan, I’ve been following it loosely myself this summer. At the start of the week I make a list of fun activities – some big, some small – and then I assign one to each day of the week. I find if I don’t actually put it on the schedule, I do sit around and let the kids play too many video games while I dither about what to do and waste time surfing. So far it’s been…awesome!

3 | andrea

July 25th, 2010 at 9:23 am


Finola: so true – the plan is not to plan. :)

Lynn: The Summer of Awesome, is awesome! I am trying hard to do fun things without overscheduling too. I really have to play it by ear, because some days I just don’t have it in me to bring them to a place like Cosmic Adventures, you know what I mean? I think it much less stressful this way.

4 | Jay

July 25th, 2010 at 12:21 pm


Thank you! I have a tendency to want to “get stuff done”, and only do things with the kids that I’ve paid for (swimming lessons/soccer). Then I feel guilty for not doing anything for them, although, I do feel like Mom-of-the-Year when I do the simplest thing (made popsicles together). With this plan – I’d feel like Mom-of-the-Year everyday!

5 | Lara

July 26th, 2010 at 6:34 am


How fabulous! I’m trying to do something similar, but more because I need to make sure the kids don’t drive me to insanity.

THis week I’m really looking forward to them being a bit older and more independent. I need a trip away or something ;)

6 | Natasha

July 30th, 2010 at 8:05 pm


The movie idea is awesome. I cannot believe the girls made their own movie poster. That puts a twist on movie nights at home.

I think the idea of trying to do one thing everyday is great. When you plan too many things in one day it takes a lot out of you and it usually doesn’t end up going as planned.

Great post!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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