The count down has begun to the last day of school. While the kids are thrilled, honestly I’m on the verge of an anxiety attack every time I think about it. Some moms love having time to spend with their kids without routines and schedules. Personally, it totally freaks me out. I am a Type-A mom with four kids ranging from preteen to preschool and those routines and schedules are how I survive. If I don’t start the day with a plan, they come up with one and start bombarding me with questions. This school year I’ve been blessed to have 16 kid-free hours in a week, and over the summer that number goes to zero. At my core, I’m an introvert who needs time alone to think and recharge, not to mention alone time to write, make phone calls or go grocery shopping. So basically summer scares the crap out of me.
Because I’m a control freak planner type, I need to come up with a loose working plan for the summer to help me feel better. One that allows for some routines, some goals, some semblance of order. Because we are trying to be debt free by the end of the year, we aren’t doing any camps (only VBS) and no family vacation. I don’t want to just survive the summer. I’d like to find ways to help my kids thrive and grow. I’ve had some ideas for summer survival I thought I would share just in case you are freaking out too.
1. Don’t throw chores out the window. Maintaining order in our home is essential for keeping the peace. I have basic chores that the kids need to do every day, often, but not always, before we get to the fun stuff. They have to make their beds, pick up their floors, empty their “cubes” (the place I put all their stuff I find in the rest of the house), eat breakfast and get dressed. The three older ones (age 12, 9 and 5) can do these things pretty independently without my help. I also like to leave the house with the “Hot Spots” (see flylady.net) picked up. If you feel guilty making your kids work in the summer, get over it. It’s good for them! It helps keep them from getting bored and gives them something productive to do, which is good for their self-esteem. I’ve also learned I need to keep some extra chores in my back pocket for “attitude correction.”
2. Have a library day. Most libraries have summer reading reward programs. This year I want each of us to set a goal for how many books we could read over the summer. Notice I included myself, which is very brave because I don’t have a lot of time to read. However this is very important for my boys to help keep their academic parts of their brains open for business. I might find a workbook for my daughter to work through before she starts kindergarten. We will probably pick one day a week to go to the library to pick out books and videos.
3. Field-trip Fridays. I’ve had this idea for a while, but honestly am still trying to get it to work. The idea is that on Fridays we go somewhere fun. Sometimes free and sometimes costing a little money. Then I invite my friends to join us with their kids. That way everyone, including me, has someone to hang out with. Maybe we could even have a big enough group to get group discounts. Some of my ideas so far: Adventure Science Center, Nashville Zoo, sprinkler park in Smyrna, Bi-Centennial Park in downtown Nashville, the Parthenon, the Nashville library, Hatcher Dairy Farm, Discovery Center at Murfee Spring. Any other suggestions?
4. Bible Club. We did this a couple of years ago on the Fruits of the Spirit, and my kids still talk about it. This year I thought we would focus on the “One Another” verses. Basically I get together with a couple other moms, and we each pick a verse to build a lesson around. Each lesson has a Bible story, an activity and a craft. Then we each take a week to host and teach. The challenging thing is that we have school age kids and preschoolers, but somehow we make it work. I will probably ask my oldest to help “teach.” Each week we will memorize a “one another” verse. For example, “Through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13) Then throughout the week any time we catch them serving someone, they earn a letter of the word. The goal is that by the end of the week, they will have earned all five letters of the word “serve.” I’m thinking of putting the letter beads on a safety pin that they can string on a necklace. I don’t know about your house, but our house could use some focused attention on how we treat one another. We’ll see if I can find any other crazy moms to join in on this one or if I’ll try it on my own.
5. Service projects. When I think about not doing camps because of our budget, I can get that mom-guilt for not having “enough” money to let my kids do fun things. So I would like to find some opportunities to expose my kids to ways they can serve others that don’t cost money. We can “give our lives away” for free. I’m looking for opportunities in downtown Nashville or in a Hispanic church close to our house. I’ve also thought about finding a “widow” who needs some help. I’m not quite sure what this looks like or if I’ll be able to include my three-year-old, but my eyes are open.
Writing all of this down helps me feel more excited about the summer. It doesn’t feel like I’m jumping into a black hole where every day is a free-for-all. Yes, we will still have some days that are like that. But every day will be different, and I don’t mind being flexible in the summer…honest. Plus I’m really excited to have two small groups going through From Ice Queen to Princess. It means I’ll have at least one night out with the ladies each week and something for me to work on. Monday mornings will be laid back and slow at our house, so that I can have time to blog. I’ll keep you posted on how many of these ideas actually happen as the summer goes on. (I know all my type-B friends are laughing at me right now.) I hope these ideas get your creative juices flowing about what you could do with your kids this summer.
How you are planning to not only survive, but thrive, this summer?