Oh Summer… I have such high hopes in the beginning. Pie in the sky hopes of spending quality time making memories, going on day trips, doing fun activities at home, every minute is glorious! But that takes a TON of planning on my part. And my job doesn’t stop just because the kids are out of school, I just add a whole bunch more to my plate with trying to come up with fun things to do every.dang.day!
Why do I do it then?
It may partially be “Mom guilt” or the pressure to be the perfect “Pinterest Mom”, or even all those social media posts saying “You only have 18 summers with them!!” making me feel the urgency of every precious summer… but I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody enjoys life when Momma is stressed out.
This year, I still have high hopes, but a little bit more realistic expectations. They don’t need to do fantastic, elaborate things everyday to make it memorable. I can make everyday things seem memorable. I brought back a few things I tried last year to give the kids responsibility over their days and give them a bit of the structure they crave, as well as bringing in a whole lot of grace to myself, reminding myself every day that I don’t have to be Super Mom to be the best mom for them. Here are a few of the things I have going in the first few weeks and it’s going relatively smooth…. so far!
Before they get to watch a show or do anything with technology, they need to do these things first to “earn” their treat. I try to limit technology as much as possible because their young brains need to create, play, build, solve problems, etc. without being spoon fed the answers. I bought these charts off Amazon and they came with a bunch of different tiles for various ages/abilities. And a few tiles to write on (as you see above), in case you want to add your own ideas. There are actually better ones out there now, but these serve the purpose. Or you could simply create your own using construction paper! The kids have to accomplish all these tasks before they get a show. The kids know what they have to do, it’s in there hands. I bought some age appropriate work books from the dollar store, give them ideas on what to write, have learning games they can play, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy… just something you can point to and say “Have you accomplished everything you need to in order to watch TV?”
To give an example, for my youngest we started a picture journal (see below) of his favorite things from the summer. He draws a picture and I help him with the letters… viola! He has a keepsake from the summer of 2018 that he made himself! For my older, she has a lined journal she’s writing in.
And they will get used to the routine if you stick with it. For indoor chores, I have them feed the dog, water the plants, sweep, dust, etc. It’s not about they finishing the task perfectly, it’s about teaching them that you have responsibilities in life. My kids are almost 5 and 6, so I can have them outside and supervise while working.
Also, I don’t have to do fully homemade to make it fun… as an example, we made slime. Not the Pinterest, organic, chemical free kind (not that I am knocking it, just didn’t have time!) but the boxed kind. It’s what I had on hand and it kept them busy for a few minutes.
Moral of the story so far… Enjoy the messy, crazy, chaotic moments. Strive for happiness, not perfection. Little moments can be wonderful. Summer is a marathon, not a sprint. And, if you give them the responsibility and stay the course, they may surprise you.
Good luck out there!