Last summer was rough. In fact thinking about this summer has given me chills of terror for the last month. I think I have actually lost a few hours of sleep thinking about my eight-year-old (#1) and six-year-old (#2) home all day, every day, slap-fighting each other, grabbing the poor, defenseless one-year-old (#4), whining incessantly, stealing toys from the three-year-old (#3), etc.
I would prefer to be one of those moms that looks forward to summertime, so I have a two-pronged attack this summer for a better time, or at least less memory of bad times.
1. Take up drinking. Not really. That might help with the memory part, but I don't think it would actually improve my summer or my children's lives. Plus, there's no money in the grocery budget for alcohol.
Real 1. Lower my expectations (isn't that kind of like drinking?). I've been warning the girls in my sternest, most-depressing-voice-ever that summer doesn't mean fun, it means extra chores. Three chores every day! Before anything fun can happen! AND I MEAN IT. And then I glare at them scarily. I do believe that I am setting myself up for an epic failure. Since summer started this week, I'm officially dialing it down, taking a step back and dropping the three chores expectation. I'm also not planning every minute and I'm going to chill out. My children will learn the value of hard work, but it doesn't have to be over my dead body. I still expect them to help and do at least one chore a day, practice their piano, read and not become too stupid.
2. Routines, routines, routines. So now that I've claimed to be all relaxed and super chill, my second prong involves routines that are set up to help me succeed. But I'm not going to freak out about my routines not being followed. Maybe just a little. In my head only though. And Mike is giving me Thursday evenings off, so if I freak out too much I can re-balance.
a. Meal time Routine: Help with preparation when possible/desired (by me), wash hands, set table, eat with manners (most of the time), clear plate, wash hands and face, help clean-up including sweeping and washing off table.
b. Morning Routine: Wake-up all children by 8:30ish. They are usually awake by then anyway. Breakfast (mealtime routine observed!), get ready for the day, bike ride (We copied my friend Kim and have a goal to ride 100 miles this summer, stopping only every few feet for a slap-fight when #1 accidentally runs into #2, who stops suddenly and was sure #1 did it on purpose), snack, piano practice, tv show.
c. Lunch Routine: I will make one item for lunch, if the kids don't like it, fine, they can make their own lunch. Today #2 ate grapes for lunch. She may have some stomach issues. This is fine. After lunch is free play time. 1:00p.m. begins the wrestle to get #3 to nap. I'm going to fix that though. I'm going to get me a nice nap routine going on too. 2:00p.m. #4 naps.
d. Summer School Routine: I'm doing a small summer school for #2 and #1. Once #3 is napping, school begins. They have mats that we made a couple summers ago from paper that I laminated and they get those and sit on them. We sing a little welcome song, I read to them from a chapter book. I've chosen The BFG by Roald Dahl to begin with and plan to checkout other classic read-alouds from the library to read with them this summer. After a chapter of me reading we have private reading time. #2 reads to me (reluctantly with hatred and much cajoling) and #1 heads to my room to read her choice (she loves reading, but I remember she was once difficult to persuade.)
After about 15-20 minutes of this we fill out our reading charts and I present a short lesson on something. So far we have had lessons on menu-planning (graphing skills, right?) and music notes. I pretty much make that up right then. I plan to develop some plan for this, but haven't yet. After the lesson it's time for chores and then recess. Recess ends with a snack (#3 is awake by now)and then we are supposed to do something awesome. I haven't yet made it to this portion of the day without some interruption, so I'm still refining this. And that's okay.
A. Welcome Song
B. Read Aloud by Mom
C. Private Reading Time
D. Short Lesson
e. Daddy Home Routine: Mike plays with the girls for a bit while I fix dinner, dinner routine, more play time, whatever.
f. Bedtime Routine for #2 and #1, (#3 and #4 should be having a bath at 7:30, at least every other day) 8:15 baths, get ready for bed, prayers at 8:45, family scripture reading, bed.
g. Leaving Routine: Warning 5 minutes to leaving. "Please get shoes and things needed for travel", Go to van.
Do you have routines? Running a household of six people seems awfully complicated to me. I'm hoping these routines will simplify my life, not make it crazier.
Now that I've got all these routines laid out, I just have to work in things like swim lessons and park day and playing with friends, and swimming and vacations. Fun times!!
Here's to a summer full of duck walking in regimented lines. I mean, a summer of fun and relaxation.