Hello first week of summer vacation. Let's see, so far we have made our own bubble mix and bubble wands, made our father's day gifts and cards, been to a concert, had very long (but fun) playdates, grilled out, played games, been to Portland, we've been to the water, limitless kid crafting, had some really fun music in heavy rotation, made cookies, painted wooden articulated lizards, filled up our Ipods and listened to them, and watched a couple movies.
Keep in mind we are wrapping up our first week. I am completely exhausted.
Summers are quite an event on their own around here. "Oh, how great that now they can sleep in", I am told. Great! Only, my kids are up at dawn. And I forgot that kids eat all day when they are hanging out at home. All day. They graze. They nibble. They snack. "Drink all your milk before you get down from the table please", thinking this will keep them sated, but it never does. I love that I control all this food, and can offer them some healthy choices, but I never seem to get out of the kitchen.
As a result of all of this, I have temporarily set aside my goal to post a summer list of activities. I am instead focusing on a summer rule list. Now, before you out there think I'm a little militant (what? rules for summer!?), here me out. My work still continues through the summer months, maybe not at full capacity, but its here and there's no one else to do it. And as much as I like to think I can multi-task with the best of them, I can't work and fetch food (...and lost shoes...and balls that get stuck in trees) all at the same time. I explained to Peter the other day that the hard part is that everybody thinks that what they need is way more important than what I'm doing at that moment, no matter what it is. Everyone else's loose ends are to be my priority. I don't fault anyone for that (I mean, its really nice to be needed so much, it is!), but its very hard for me to stay focused. My kids are 10 and going on 8, so they are older and not sticking their fingers into electrical sockets, but there still plenty of need there, but more of the "I'm bored, let's bake a cake" variety. If I can't drop and run to be with them at that moment, I feel guilty. I do.
And you see, without realizing it, our kids are brought up and dare I say, enjoy even, a little predictability in their lives. When I realized this, im a small attempt to keep things moving and positive, I made a poster and put it in the hallway upstairs. Just a few simple rules. Know what? Its working. We have blocks of time and activities that everyone is on board with. Here's our list-
*No TV or screen time during the week days. (As a kid, on Saturday mornings, I got up, made my own breakfast, and watched cartoons, and in that tradition, they do the same.)
*Everyone must be outside at least 1 hr a day (I've started following this as an example to the kids and its doing me as much good as the kids.)
*1 practice worksheet every day. (Emma does a math one, Ian does one to practice his handwriting. I bought a couple of skill builder books on amazon, but you could also pull some off the internet with a thorough search). Their teachers recommended these and so far, a success. We sit together at the kitchen table, spend 15 minutes working on these, then we're done. Ian's handwriting is already showing signs of improvement, I wish I'd done this sooner.
*On weekday mornings we are dressed by 9:00 am (considering how early my kids get up, this works really well and feels mentally more motivating if we want to leave the house.)
*When mom is working, wait till she's done (unless there is bloodshed). I ask for a couple of hours (or what is realistic) from the family every day, so I can catch my breath on the work stuff or correspondence (I set the timer). From there, I'm theirs, so to speak. Any work I do the rest of the is random, it'll be mostly life stuff...laundry, food, making that cake with the kids, etc.
*Ask yourself if you could do it all by yourself first. (This would apply to things like getting a glass of milk, cheese and crackers, a bandaid, a book from the basement, things like that.)
So that's our list for now. I'm reminded again that my kids are so visual in their learning, having these things written, and not just spoken, makes a huge difference.
Success here during the summer months is very dependent on my attitude, if I'm positive, everybody stays positive for the most part.