Thursday, Jun 12
Thanks for hosting 7QT this week, Kathryn of Team Whitaker!
This week I’d like to share some of my thoughts about summer vacation with children ten and under. We are a catholic school family with a rising 4th grader, 3rd grader, and 1st grader. We also will have a child in pre-K and a soon-to-be toddler at home in the fall. We live in a vibrant community, teeming with families from one child, to seven children or more. We have pools, camps, parks, and field trip opportunities at every turn. In other words, it can be easy to turn summer into just another version of the school year, and that’s just not the way I grew up.
Here are 7 things I’m going to try this summer to create happy childhood summer memories for my children. Are you ready?
Recognize that the end of the school year is AS DIFFICULT as the beginning of the school year.
Having an overall plan for the summer will reassure them that life as they know it is not over.
Children can become very attached to their teachers, the routine and expectations set, or perhaps they have a classmate who will be going to a different school the next year. In some cases, depending on the personality and temperament of a particular child, they might enjoy the structure of the school day, and the break that it gives them from the chaos of home life with little ones around. Yesterday, every.single.one. of my children cried. A LOT. By the time each one of them went to bed, we discovered that the end of the school year and the uncertainty that it brings needs to be acknowledged and addressed. And the children need to be assured what the plan is for the summer. When are they going to camp? When are we going on vacation? When are people coming to visit? How often are they going to get together with their friends?
Hold a Family Meeting to Establish a Summer Routine
Normalcy without Chaos
Our last day of school was yesterday. So today the kids and I are doing laundry, organizing toys, putting school uniforms, shoes, back packs and lunch boxes in storage. We are going to file all their school work that they choose to keep in their save box and throw away the rest. Clean slate. Reset button pressed. Ready to embark.
The Hubs and I will have a pow wow before the family meeting to come up with a short list of the most important things we want the children to do each day at different times of the day. Establishing routines for each child will include doing something to take care of themselves and doing something to help the family. Small routines at different times of the day create a rhythm to each day and provide some structure to the home. During the school year, we have routines for morning, after school, before dinner, and before bed.
For the summer, I anticipate having a morning routine, a lunch routine, a “tea time” routine, where we sort of regroup at three or four o’clock, a pre- and after-dinner routine, and a bedtime routine. Each child has two or three responsibilities during each routine depending on their age.
I could go on and on about this, but the objective is this: I’m not going to let our summer days be a free-for-all. If we have no structure, I will be miserable, and in turn, so will the children. I need for the children to have their own responsibilities throughout the day so that the house doesn’t get trashed and the kids don’t become lazy. When they’re at school, they work. Well, when they’re at home for the summer guess what? They’re going to work. It takes a lot less time for five people to empty the dishwasher, clear the table/load the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, and sweep the floor!
We’re also going to come up with a loose weekly schedule. Each Monday, we’ll go to the library, each Tuesday we’ll have a friend or two over, each Wednesday and Friday we’ll go to the pool, each Thursday we’ll plan some sort of field trip. Something like that. We allow each child one week of day camp somewhere local, so the weekly schedule will change
Teach the older children how to cook a few simple recipes
Allow them each to cook lunch one day a week
This will take some training, but I think while the baby takes her morning nap, I could take one child at a time and teach them something simple like grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, or French toast. This is something that would be really difficult to accomplish during the school year, but if we take our time, over the course of two weeks, we could be on a roll! I’ll call it Cooking Camp! I’ll keep you posted on this one, for sure.
I will.not.allow.the TV and computer to take control of our summer
This is going to be a tough one. It is so very tempting to silence the bickering, arguing, fighting, and just plain old noise by sticking the girls in front of one TV for an episode of whatever girly show they’re into right now and then to allow the boys to watch one of their shows on the other TV. And it’s just as easy to whip out the iPad or give them time on a website. The fact is, my children’s behavior is affected by screen time. It just is. So we’re gonna be mean and rotten parents and not allow any computer time all summer long. Gasp! As for the TV, my goal is to allow one show per child per day, with a movie on the weekend at some point. I am going to have to pray for the grace to follow through on this one. I’m sure someone will get sick and I’ll cave, but other than that, I’m going to do my best to stand my ground.
Take one field trip a week
I have not been taking the kids anywhere as a group for a long time for various reasons. But now that our youngest is almost a year old, I think it’s the perfect time to take some little day trips, maybe even with other families (goodness knows we have the room thanks to our NV). Again, I’ll keep you posted on this one.
One on one time with each child
I need to spend more time with my children individually. It takes some planning, but it really doesn’t have to involve going out somewhere and spending money. Doing a puzzle, coloring a picture, or taking a walk is really all they need. Maybe I’ll pick a day of the week for each child.
I want to play more this summer! I know that if I could just stop allowing the house to scream at me, “Laundry isn’t done! The basement is a mess! You need to organize the storage room! The kids haven’t picked up their rooms today!” I could enjoy this summer too. Oh, to dream. I suppose I’ll need to pray for the grace to follow through on this one too. Because I know for a fact that the kids will love it if I could just let go of all the things I have to do to spend more time playing.
Pretty attainable goals, I think. I hope one of these ideas is helpful to you!