Summer break is upon the Whalen household and with it the usual juggling of work, home, and life has become more like juggling knives…flaming knives. Planning to work around the kids means either getting up early or going to bed late while sneaking in emails, phone calls, and bits of work here and there. It’s not perfect, but then it’s why I love what I do. I get the best of both worlds…and the worst some days.
It isn’t all bad though. My oldest is actually spending the summer at the beach (no, I’m not jealous AT ALL.) He will be literally living on the boardwalk (well, not ON the boardwalk) and working only a day or two each week. Sure he’s also ‘stuck’ with his grandparents, but they also spoil him rotten, so he gets no sympathy from me.
While that means one less child at home, in only 10 days into our summer I’m finding that having one less child at home has thrown off the family balance. We’re all still adjusting. Transitions are just not our thing. (they get that from me)
While I have some stuff planned for the summertime, and two of the kids are in ‘school’ for 4 or 5 weeks half days, we have a LOT of free time. We have a long list of things to do that won’t cost much this summer, and I have lots of plans, but I’m quickly learning my plans need to be even more flexible than usual. The kids come first, that doesn’t change. The dishes can wait, the work may pile up, but they are growing way too fast for me NOT to take advantage of this time. I may have given them a gentle smoosh on their heads tonight and told them all to stop growing up.
My plan is to institue a bit of a schedule and keep a calendar with the day’s activity on it so that I can keep the questions about “What are we going to do today?,” at bay. But I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help make everything easier.
I’m back to instituting a regular quiet time in the house for an hour each afternoon, so we can all spend a little time apart. Everyone has to go to their rooms and chill. Books, drawing, and music are allowed, but screens are forbidden. I need this as much as they do since I find I’m often either fully immersed in on thing or another at all times, and I need some time off to just ‘be’.
To stop the inevitable, “When are we doing that?” questions I get peppered with I’ve posted a summer long calendar in addition to our dry erase calendar. This way the kids can look at it when they have questions about when or what we’re doing.
(Mostly) Strict Bedtime
While some parents move bedtimes way back in the summertime my kids have a regular bedtime of 8:30pm on most nights. Occasionally at a friend’s house or for fireworks we’ll stay up late, but they do better with a regular bedtime since they still get up at 6 or 7 each morning. I guard sleep and our adult downtime in the evening with my life. I do better with some time ‘off’, and I parent better with that time to myself.
Try It Foods
I was inspired by Disney’s TryIt menu options and meals on our recent trip to DisneyWorld, so starting this week we’re trying some new foods each week. This is to help expand our options, and reinforce the idea that we try new things at mealtimes. The kids will also get involved by having one day a week where they help in the kitchen, an idea we’ve done previously with success. It will allow them some creative freedom and yes, I’ll have to try their creations too. Even the inevitable ketchup/fruit mashups my 7 year old is sure to produce.
Totally borrowing this idea from my friend Niri (at Mommy Niri) I’m creating a suggestion box where the kids can add in their own ideas to add to the summer calendar.
Make the Most of Time
One of the things that will make the summertime more special is taking advantage of time when one kid is off doing something to be with the other kids. While it would be much easier to just let them play on their own, I plan to take advantage of that time to do something special. For instance when Aidan has a birthday party, the girls and I are planning a girls’ day. I’m especially looking forward to spending a lot of time with Audrey since the other two will be off each morning for 4 weeks at a half day program.
So, hopefully with my plans in place, a list of activities, and some limits on working I’ll stay sane this summer. Then again, since I just wrote that I’m sure to have some curveballs thrown at my plans. Only time will tell if my planning helps.
How are you surviving summer?