Friday, Aug 7
Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.
I usually start the summer white-knuckling my way through, but this time around, I tricked myself into believing that this was going to be the best summer ever, and so far, it has been. What’s made it so great? My answer in Seven:
Keep it simple, silly! Over the years I’ve gone back and forth between two approaches to summer: keep ’em busy or just relax. Two years ago, when I had Little One, I was all about keeping the kids busy and out of the house. We even had a nanny who lived with us that summer so that I could stay at home and recover from m 5th c-section. There was also the “book every week of the summer with activity so that no one gets bored” approach. That one sort of backfired. I guess I thought that by keeping everyone’s life scheduled would keep us all happy. There were happy moments, and it was a good summer, but it was too much like the school year. This summer we have been spending a lot of time just hanging out at home. It’s amazing how happy they are just to run through sprinklers with goggles on or completely clothed.
Smarty Pants will be turning 11 in October, Dimples just turned 9 in June, Bright Eyes is 7 1/2, Social Butterfly is 5 1/2 and Little One is 2. I never could have taken the “leave them alone” approach when they were younger. Truly, a huge reason why this summer has been so different is because of their ages. The oldest two keep an eye on the youngest and the result is creative play time. We turn off the TV and the computer and they just play together. I don’t orchestrate anything. I don’t make any suggestions. I just stay out of it. I’m here. They’re safe. But they are spending their time as they wish. What a novel idea! They have disagreements. Sometimes they can get a little nasty. But for the most part, when I leave them to their own devices, they have a lot of fun together just being kids.
Sadly, the school year is a real time suck. We have to fight for time with family and friends and that just stinks. We have done our best to spend as much time with friends and family as possible this summer, and this has made us realize that we need to carve out time for the ones we love even after our calendars are packed with school events and extra-curricular activities.
What a silly idea. But let me tell you, it takes a lot for me to go out somewhere with all five of my children. Going to the pool doesn’t count. That’s its own category. I mean just going out in public to get a treat, take a walk, play at a park, it’s a challenge. For me, this takes a lot of mental preparation. Oh I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader. She is always right there when I need her. And she’s in my own head. “You got this, Mary! You can do it! You are a good mother. Your children know how to behave. You can park that 12 passenger van anywhere. You’re a mean, lean, parenting machine.” Seriously, these are things that I tell myself just to step out into the world with all five kids. It’s worth all the cheerleading because the kids appreciate it, like a lot.
Get those kids moving! Just last week, friends of ours gave us their trampoline! To borrow. They don’t have room in their yard for it at the moment, so rather than let take up valuable garage space, it’s in our back yard! We are so grateful. I am telling you, the kids go out there an jump on that trampoline several times a day, and I don’t see the novelty wearing off any time soon. It is so good for them to get this exercise during the day that they just weren’t getting before. We have one of those one-person trampolines in our basement. It’s been down there for years, but to be honest, the kids only jump on it during the winter months when we talk them into it. It has served its purpose over the years, but it’s just not as cool as the big trampoline. I never thought we’d have one simply because I was so nervous about injuries, but so far, so good. Please, if you have any suggestions for us on how to keep the kiddos from injury on this thing, the comment box is open!
I am so grateful to have community pools to take the children to all summer long. It’s such a blessing to be able to load them all up in the van and drive them just a few minutes to our favorite pool. The best part for me is the social aspect. I don’t have to plan or schedule any get togethers with friends to get some adult interaction. I just show up at the pool and see my friends there with their kids. Boom! Adult interaction and my cup is full. There are days when I don’t want to be social but the kids need some swim time. The sheer exhaustion that comes with swimming for a couple of hours is just what these kids need to help them sleep like logs each night. I love it. For our family, going to the pool without toys and snacks is a recipe for disaster. I pack up a cooler with food and drinks and the children are in charge of bringing their own toys. I usually suggest that they bring a book to read if they’re not up for swimming. It’s not fun for mom when one child starts asking to go home 20 minutes after arrival. I always say, going to the pool with kids is like getting them ready to go out and play in the snow. With all the effort it takes, they better be ready to stay at the pool for at least two hours.
Time alone with this guy has been the number one thing that has made this summer so wonderful. We have carved out time to get out and have a nice meal together, listen to live music, or just hang out on the couch to watch a movie after the kids are in bed. It’s always important for us to do this, but especially in the summertime. I need to reconnect with the man who swept me off my feet fourteen years ago so that I can be reminded of the love that brought about all these crazy kids!
I’m thinking maybe I should re-read this post next spring when I start white-knuckling it as summer approaches again. Every summer takes its own shape, but if I could recreate this one I would in a heartbeat.