As soon as my kids leave Kanakuk Kamps each July, they start counting down the days until the fun begins again the next summer. It’s their favorite time of the year!

I don’t start the countdown until school lets out in May. That is when they really start being siblings. You know, fighting over the television, who ate the rest of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and all of the other tiny fights they might have.

After Memorial Day, it hits me that being a mom is tough, exhausting work. I’m ready for a break! I start planning and daydreaming of how I will rejuvenate myself during the four weeks Hunter and Madysen are gone. Here are five ways I pamper myself when the kids are away at camp:


The first thing on my agenda: books. I post on my social media for recommendations. I start downloading books to my iPad so they are ready as soon as the bus pulls out. I love sitting in a comfy chair, burning the midnight oil, electronic book in hand.


Since my youngest started attending Kanakuk in 2012, I’ve made it a point to go somewhere the same day the bus leaves. For some reason, I cannot will myself to return home immediately. The quiet and loneliness is too much. So, I head straight out of town. I’ve treated myself to a spa retreat and retail-therapy weekend with my mother-in-law, and a weekend of fun with friends in Nebraska. These trips are short on purpose. I need two to four days for my heart to adjust.


Upon returning home, I make it a point to clean out. I am not a good housekeeper. But, I buckle down for the next few days, concentrating on the kids’ rooms and closets. If they can no longer wear it, it goes. If I hate a shirt, it goes. A loud, annoying toy? Gone. It’s my version of spring-cleaning. I bribe myself to finish. Then, and only then, I get a mani/pedi, have lunch with friends, read another book, go to the movies by myself (to a chick flick!), and so many other things!


I’m so often consumed with being Hunter and Madysen’s mom; I forget that I am Heath’s wife! In fact, I was Heath’s wife before I was a mom. That first summer both kids were at camp and it was just the two of us, we had a blast. We went on dates, ate at the dinner table, spent two weekends on getaways, attended concerts, and went on walks and for swims. It was like we were dating again! I’ve realized, it’s not the vacations that do us good, it’s the time in our own house, in every day circumstances, that God uses to bring us closer as a couple. Investing this time into my marriage has become something I crave.


Last but certainly not least, while they are gone, I am able to re-evaluate my relationship with my kids. Last summer, God laid on my heart to write a journal. God allowed me to cope with my emotions through that journal, and it is put away for them to read later. In addition, I read a book on parenting. Last year it was the Five Love Languages for Children. I enjoy figuring out ways to love my kids, to meet their needs, to be a better parent. I usually read these toward the end of the four weeks so it is fresh when my kids return.

Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July -- none of these are my favorite days of the year. My absolute, hands-down favorite day of the year is the day I get to put my arms around my kids for the first time in 28 days. As a mom, I get so frustrated with the bickering, arguing and complaining. I grumble about everything I have to put up with, everything I am responsible for…laundry, cooking, taxi service, etc. It isn’t until they are gone, until I’m alone all day long, that I truly realize there is so much more to my job of “mom” than I realize!  

About the author: Heather Nay attended Baylor University and was privileged to be a counselor at Kanakuk Kamps one summer. She received her Bachelor and Masters in Elementary Education. She has been a freelance writer for elementary curriculum for the past nine years. Recently, alongside her husband, Heath, Heather opened Central Arkansas Urgent Care, where she is the Chief Operations Officer of the clinic.

Read Heather's full post about summer relaxation on the Kanakuk Kamps' blog.