I am counting the days until my boys are done with school. Some moms look at those three months and worry about what they will do to fill those days but I relish them.
Here’s why: During the school year my interactions with my kids involve waking them up for school, feeding them breakfast and “encouraging” them to hurry up or they’ll be late for school. After school it’s feeding them a snack, emptying their backpacks, doing homework, preparing dinner and driving them in concentric circles around Madison until dinner (or after) dinner time. At some point I tell them to hurry up and put their PJs on, brush their teeth and go to bed. Seriously, go to bed it’s a school night!
AND… repeat. Yes, school keeps my kids busy for many hours of the day and I appreciate the education and social interaction they get from that. But that minimizes MY interaction with them to a drill sergeant who packs their lunches and does their laundry. If it’s a good day I get a chance to talk with one or two of them about their day… on a good day.
On the first week of summer vacation last year I was SO excited to have them home. No more drill sergeant from ME! And then reality set in. They wanted to sleep in every day. They wanted to sit in their PJs and watch cartoons and not eat breakfast until ten am (or noon). They weren’t interested in eating lunch AT lunchtime; they wanted to eat whenever they felt like it. They turned into lazy slugs who asked me every ten minutes or so if they could play video games and then said they were bored. I gave them a week of this because it was their summer vacation. And then we had a “Come to Jesus Moment.” This Moment had absolutely nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with how the rest of our summer was going to go because this was not the reality I had envisioned.
Whether I liked it or not, a routine was in order and on that day I set the ground rules. As much as I try not to overschedule my boys during the summer because we do plenty of it during the school year; I realized we needed some structure to keep us going daily. Luckily, we belong to High Point Pool two blocks from our house and the boys are on the swim team. Practice is offered in the morning and at night but from then on, they were required to go in the morning. It was no longer an option. Rain or shine, cold or hot, they had to get out of bed and bike over to the pool. When they got home they were always in good moods from seeing their friends and getting in some exercise. For the remainder of the morning they had time to themselves to do whatever they chose (except video games).
I made lunch for them at noon every day. If they ate it, great, if not, their next meal from me was supper. I’m not running a restaurant here.
After lunch we had an hour of quiet reading (or siesta) time. I have been doing this for years. I discovered that when the boys outgrew napping it was still so nice to give everyone a chance to rest in the air conditioning with a book by themselves. The best part of quiet reading time is that I get a chance to read every day as well. My older boys and I swap books and talk about what we’re reading and I think it’s helping them keep up their skills.
After siesta we may do a play date (or “hang out” never call it a play date if the kid is older than first grade). Many days we head back to the pool to see who is there.
Dinner time this year will be different as I have decided to have one boy each day help me prepare dinner in order to get more one-on-one time AND teach them how to cook. This is something we don’t have time for during the school year. In addition, my teens have summer jobs for the first time which will help them get into their own routine without Mom telling them what to do.
Despite the routine I set, I look forward to many carefree, outdoor moments at the pool, a park, or on a hike in the woods. I see barbecues with friends and weekends at the cabin. I imagine water gun fights, farmers market, the library summer reading program and going out on the canoe.
I’m SO happy summer is here. Where’s the sunscreen?