Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer is Here: Now What?

When my boys were smaller and I stayed at home with them, I would hear the distant groans of mothers everywhere when summer was approaching. "What am I going to do with them all day?" they would say.  "Please, someone, get me a coffee!" or "Calgon take me away!"  I would roll my eyes and think, "Oh brother, I stay at home with my kids all day every day!  If I only had them for a summer I would love it!"

Now that I am in the post-toddler stage, I understand.  When it comes time for the kids to go to school and you have your days back (well, technically, since many of us work during those hours) and you can hear silence once again, you begin to cherish every moment of it.

Moms who I judged, I'm sorry.  I get it now.

Now, only a few short hours into our summer vacation, I'm moaning too, moms.  I am already being pulled away by whining and arguing and tattling and crankiness every two seconds.  I think everyone woke up on the wrong side of the bed on the first day of summer.

For weeks I've been scouring Pinterest boards looking for chore charts, summer activities and more.  "This summer I'll have a plan!" I thought, only the first day of summer came, and I hadn't planned a thing.  Then I realized that summer for moms is like the school year for teachers; if we don't have a plan for the day, chaos may actually ensue.  I have to go into my summer days with the fervor of a first-year teacher planning every half-hour for her students.  "But I want to relax!  I don't want to plan!  I want to just have fun!" I think.  Yet every time I try that approach, the kids freak out because they don't know what to do with themselves.

At the same time, I do believe that boredom is good for kids and we don't need to entertain them all day.  That is why I try to implement a "planned relaxation" approach to summer.

So, here is my idea for our planned- yet relaxing and fun- summer:

- The Night Before: Take 20 minutes to plan out the next day.  Write it down for everyone to know what to expect. It doesn't have to be a rigid schedule, but just a few things planned out so we can all be on the same page.

- Every morning: After breakfast, we are going to spend 10 minutes reading a Bible story and talking about what it means.  We are starting with the Jesus Bible Storybook (affiliate link).  I'm also having the boys memorize one Scripture a week for 8 weeks, and I found printables for that here.

- Chores: We are (finally) starting to implement chores. I'm a little late to the game, but it was tough to enforce this during the school year.  I chose to make the magnetic chore chart from a cookie pan, and their incentive will be $1.00 a week.  (Shhh..I know, it's like slave labor for that rate, but they are excited to just be getting money!)

- TV Time: We're also doing something new this summer - the boys have to earn their TV time by reading books, minute for minute.  The most they can earn a day is 60 minutes each. I know that's a lot (2 hours of TV a day), but there will be many days we'll be out of the house anyway. Read this brilliant post for more on that topic.

- Media Time: The boys are always asking to play the Wii, Kindle, my Iphone or the Computer during the summer. They have to earn that time, too, by completing educational worksheets. I ordered the Scholastic Summer Express books for the boys, which help prepare them for the next year at school. There are only 2 worksheets a day, so they are earning 10 minutes per worksheet, for 20 minutes a day of media time.

I know it seems like a lot to keep track of.  I use as a whiteboard in the kitchen to keep track of the minutes, and it is simple and works great.  I've realized that if I don't keep track of their TV and Media minutes like this, they can easily get out of hand, and then they're watching TV or playing video games all day.

We usually try to go somewhere 3 days a week, with the rest of the time being at home.  We set up a small pool in the backyard and it keeps them occupied for hours.  Last year I made a summer bucket list which went over well, so we're probably going to do that again too.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this - what do you do to stay sane during the summer? What have you found that works for you?  Please share your tips and ideas below.

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