As I posted last week, summer is not always the easiest time of year for me. While I love that our summers are mostly unstructured, and that the kids get to relax and we get to do all kinds of activities and day trips and other adventures, the downside to all that free time is a whole lot of time that they can spend squabbling with each other. The weekend was a good example of why I love summer. Friday, we went to Edaville Railroad. The day was busy and fun, and nobody argued even once. We picked up Sarah on our way home, and Saturday, we spent with our friends David and Aviva at their pool. Sunday was more swimming and fun with Auntie Becky and Abby-with-a-bow.
But today was our day at home. A day to catch up on laundry, Marc had some maintenance to do on the car (turns out that my brilliant husband can do maintenance on the car, replacing the brake pads and saving us a lot of money). The kids were home. Bored. It was smoking hot and sticky outside, and Glennys (everyone’s best friend down from NH) was leaving today. Both my older kids were upset (nobody likes it when she leaves) and taking it out by sniping at each other.
It’s days like this when I’m driven to making lists of ways to survive the summer – here’s what I’ve got so far…
1 – Coffee. Specifically, iced coffee. I’ve started freezing ice cubes of coffee to make my afternoon coffee that much better. Yes, I do get massive and intense migraines when I forget to have it, but it’s well worth the price. A well caffeinated mama is a happy mama. Happy realization today – when I run out of sugar, I just mix a little chocolate syrup in and make iced mocha. Life is just easier when I’ve got iced coffee.
2 – A hose. A sprinkler is nice, but in a pinch, just having a hose will work. Bonus points if you go out and get wet with the kids. My kids can spend hours outside, hosing each other down, playing games where they race thru the water, they lying out in the sun, drying off and doing it all over again.
3 – A Dollar Tree store within easy proximity. Squirt guns, water balloons, glow sticks, coloring books, crayons – even ice cream bars are only a dollar. This store has saved my life on several occasions.
4 – Say “yes” as often as possible. Can we wash the car? YES. Can we go for a walk? YES. Can we have all the sponges so that we can have a sponge war? YES.
5 – Poster board. For some reason, poster board is way cooler than regular paper. Useful for making up your own game boards, advertising lemonade stands and writing up a big list of chores and daily responsibilities for kids to follow.
6 – Stick to a routine, specifically a bedtime routine. When so much of our schedule is flexible and haphazard, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of just letting the kids conk out whenever. But nobody wins when everyone is overtired and worn out, so it’s better to stick to a regular bedtime as much as possible.
7 – Rules. I took my little piece of poster board and wrote out the rules. There aren’t many – and all of them are self-evident (to me, at least). But somehow, having them written down makes it easier to follow. At least twice tonight, I’ve stopped myself from nagging and just said simply “You know the rules…” and the kid in question would immediately acquiesce. It’s magic.
8 – Daily responsibilities. Confession time – I’m utter crap at giving my kids chores. But I’m not doing anyone any favors, including myself. I made up four chores for each kid, trying to make them age appropriate but still vaguely equal. I left space on the chart to draw stars for completed chores (my kids do stuff for handwritten stars – I hinted that there might be some sort of reward to be determined later when the whole space is filled with tiny stars). I also stressed that chores aren’t done for a reward – they’re done because we’re a team, and we all work together in this family.
How does summer work at your house? I’d love it if you’d comment and let me know what works for your family.