Surviving Summer

I have to admit that for the last few years the thought of summer vacation has made me feel a little panicky. We have a great routine during the school year and S-Boogie really thrives in the classroom with her friends. Being at home together can sometimes be difficult for all of us, as I'm sure is true in many families. Thankfully this summer is going by quickly and so far it is going well.

Last year I tried making a schedule that included a variety of different things, including some learning time. If I had been better about following it, it might have worked out. Instead our enthusiasm petered out after a week or two and it fell by the wayside. Even though I read a lot of different blog posts from other families with varying levels of structure for the summer, this year I felt like I would rather keep things more simple and flexible. So far it is working out well. I typed up some basic 'summer guidelines' for the kids. They have certain things they have to get done in the morning before they each get an hour of screen time for the day. One of the items on their morning routine is a chore; I've given them each one chore for the day, mostly simple things that I want them to learn how to do like helping with the dishwasher or taking care of their laundry (putting it in the machine for me and then folding it when it's done). I also made a master chart for the week that includes jobs for the parents each day, things like library day, and my work schedule. I think it is just enough to give us structure but not so much we are overwhelmed.

Most days we've had so far have actually been quite lovely. The kids are finally getting old enough to handle some boredom creatively, and they both look forward to getting new books from the library and actually reading them on their own. I've also learned that when they come to me and say "I'm bored", I can usually list a few ideas and after a while they'll wander off and find something to do. Another of our summer guidelines is that everyone (including me) has to get some outside time each day, so they are getting better at playing outside. I'd still love to get some kind of swing set, but they can be remarkably creative with the little that is outside.

Yesterday was a good day. We got up, went to swimming lessons first thing in the morning, and then came home and changed clothes. After that we read scriptures and did chores (vacuuming for me, folding laundry and wiping walls for Little Dude, piano practice for S-Boogie), and then the kids started their screen time with some computer games while I left to go to the dentist. Mr. Fob fed them lunch while I was gone and they started some quiet reading time. I was nervous when I came home because my mouth was numb and I didn't feel good, and since it was only one o'clock I worried that the day would be long. S-Boogie and Little Dude whined for a few minutes, and then went downstairs to build a motorhome out of Duplos. I was so happy that they entertained themselves for nearly two hours while I rested on the couch. The baby woke up from her nap, and since I still didn't feel up to taking them over to the 'real pool' we filled up the little one in the backyard. I sat outside watching the white clouds billow over the mountains, soaking up the sunshine. P. Bibby played in the pool while the bigger kids got out to go work on their mud pit. The afternoon passed, we cleaned up and had dinner, and then Mr. Fob and I went out for a bit while his sister stayed and watched a movie with our kids. Not all days are that great, but most have been going well. The weather is nice and it's already July. Some day I will mourn the passing of summer and I think I will look forward to it next year much more than I have in the past.


AmyJane said…
I've been kind of pleasantly surprised by summer as well. Even though Patrick was just in preschool this year, we all enjoyed the structure that school imposed on us. I did some similar things, hoping for casual scheduling and it's worked out pretty well. It's flying by much faster than I thought it would!
Kristine said…
My kids are a little older (tweens), and I've tried something this summer that sounds like a little more formal version of some of what you're doing. We're calling it the 30/60/90 summer, which means 30 minutes of chores/housework/garden help, 60 minutes of reading, and 90 minutes of outdoor time every day, and then the rest of the time is theirs. It's easy for them to remember, and flexible enough to be achievable most days, with or without my help. And there's a corresponding bribe: at the end of the summer, if they've done well (hit their targets 4 days out of 5) for one month, they get $30, for two, $60, and $90 if they make it all three months with a decent record. (Days when we're on vacation or otherwise not home are freebies).

And I'm definitely having a better summer than the years when I had more specific and/or structured ambitions.
M said…
Totally jealous that your kids can fold laundry. Sigh. :-)

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