The first week of summer break is winding down. This week is a bit of a re-entry for my kids. I noticed it last year and it came as no surprise this year. They are once again in each other’s space for a majority of the day. They are learning the delicate balance of respecting one another’s personal privacy and playing together as if they were friends by choice. My kids like each other (for the most part) so I know that it will get better. I will learn their summer patterns and be able to fit in my own work schedule within the next few weeks. I have tucked away little pockets of time like the choice candy at the top shelf of the pantry. I will get work done and I will have lots of fun with my kids! In the midst of some of the best 10 weeks the weather in Indiana has to offer, I plan to enjoy it to the full! I have four ways in which I plan to do this.
1. Plan it out
This part is so important! Before you write this off as a Type-A tip, let me explain that I am an A- at best and a type B, leaning towards C most of the time. I love a general flow as opposed to a structured itinerary of my day, week, month—you get it. However, I learned quickly that summer is more of a tidal wave than a lazy river so a plan can be the key to enjoying it as apposed to surviving it.
For me, I like a paper copy printed out of June, July, and August. I do this in early May, but doing it now is better than just not doing it at all. I make a list of things I need to do and things I already know we are doing (VBS, trip to visit a friend, family reunion, etc). Then I let the kids do a small day camp each year and I try to plan them either all on the same week or spread out to get some time with the ones not attending that week (personal preference here). Then I make a list of fun places that we want to go. These places can be the whole family or just me and the kids. They can be free and close too. I put them on the calendar so we make them happen.
The last step is to put it on my google calendar. The hubs and I merged our calendars on our phones and it really is the only way he will ever see what is going on this summer.
That sounds time consuming and organize-ie (Yep, made that word up), but when you do it in May it gives you real excitement when you need it most (end-of-school-year comatosis, anyone?). But I also like to look over the whole summer and make sure I have a god balance of fun activities and good ole’ fashioned summer daze! Which leads to my next tip:
2. Blackout time
Do your best to strike a balance with the technology. No judgement here, but there is life beyond the screen. I tend to let my kids veg out in front of the TV and the iPad in the morning. My reasoning is that I would like to avoid hearing “Mom! Mom! MOM!” a thousand times before I have finished my first cup of coffee. I need to build up my resolve and spend a little time with Jesus before I can tackle the needs of my children. In other words, I am letting them entertain themselves with technology while I put on my own oxygen mask. I try to cut them off for several hours in the middle of the day. By the evening, Daddy is home and he is way more fun than an iPad ever dreamed of being.
Whatever you choose to do, talk to your spouse and get on the same page. We don’t have a strict rule of time on the devices and that is what works for us. This first week of summer break, on Monday, our hot water heater busted and 50 gallons of water made its way into our house. I was glad for devices. They saved my sanity! I then explained that now that we have the repairs under control, the devices need to be put away (for the most part) the rest of this week. Balance.
3. Learn Your Kids’ Love Language
If you don’t already know about the five love languages I would highly recommend that you do a little research. (The Five Love Languages of Children found here). It is so helpful to know the top love language for each member of your household. Many people look for their spouse’s, but fail to notice what their kids’ top language is. This can be key in making summer memorable for each member. If one has quality time as their top love language, a one-on-one date will make their summer! If it is gifts, see if you can make something together that they can keep.
4. Forgive Yourself
As much as this is an opportunity to make memories with your kids, there are times in our lives when we just don’t get what we want. We plan great trips that have to be cancelled because of timing or finances. Forgive yourself. You want to pull your hair out and jump on the internet and find a year-round boarding school after only one week with your kids. Forgive yourself. That Pinterest Board labeled Most Awesome Summer Ever, doesn’t so much as get looked at after June 1. Forgive yourself.
Have a great summer and love yourself as much as you love those kids. Ask your kids what is one thing they would like to do over the summer and see if you can make it (or something like it) happen. Remember there are free, fun things you can do at home. If money is tight, do some research and get creative on ways to make memories with your kids. For the most part, their little hearts just want you—fully present you for a night. Right now, my girls are in the van on a two-and-a-half-hour trip to Menards to pick up replacement flooring from the water heater incident—and they are happy about it! They are on an adventure with Daddy. They don’t care about the rest of it. They are just happy to be with him. Adults tend to put expectations on what fun looks like, but our kids view things very differently.
Summer is not a contest to see who has the coolest vacation or does the most. It is a gift that you get for a couple months out of the year to experience a break from the routine of the other nine and a half months. Don’t try to have the most awesome summer anyone has ever had. Try to have the most sincere summer you and your family could possibly have—and roll with the punches that life sprinkles in there for variety!