A Summer Plan
With just over a week of school left, summer is just around the corner for us, and I have been accumulating some thoughts and a loose plan.
Some summers have been not my favorite, and some have been great. The key, I'm slowly learning, is to recognize where we are, and honor the stage we're in.
This summer I'll have a 1, 3, and 5 year old, and will be in my second trimester with baby #4. I am convinced that summer is always a busy and tiring time (in a good way), especially if you're at home with children full-time, but I need to remember that it will probably be extra busy and tiring this summer, not discount the energy it takes to grow a human while caring for three others, and accept my limitations.
I'm following a lot of what our plan was last summer, and these two posts have been inspiration to me the past couple years:
PERSPECTIVE + ATTITUDE: Yes, summer is a busy and tiring time. It's three months of constant togetherness. But I get to do it. It's also the last summer before Eloise goes to kindergarten, so I have some sentimentality about that.
While I feel like many people don't know how to say "no" to their kids, I tend to say a lot of "no," maybe too much. And I wouldn't call myself a "fun mom."
But I want my kids' summers to be memorable and full of simple fun. I am urging myself to say yes to fun! The other day we were asked to go swimming with friends, and I was tired, hadn't finished my household tasks for the day, and wasn't feeling motivated to get everyone in bathing suits/packed up for swimming right before dinner. But we went, and everyone had so much fun!
When exhaustion overtakes me, I need to remember to flip the tables and be thankful that we have the freedom to spend our days this way. As Nick would say, "This is why we're doing all of this!"
If I've said it once I've said it a million times: no bucket lists for us. I can't stand a bucket list! But I do make sure to compile a go-to list of ideas, both at-home and out of the house, to pull from when we need an activity. The key is no pressure. This list is my servant, not my master.
In the past we've had the most success relying on the "P's":
Playgrounds + parks
Playdates (not a huge focus for us because, three kids, but there are a few neighborhood/in-town friends who we're able to spontaneously get together with and everyone plays nicely, so they serve us well)
Picnics (both on our porch/in our yard and elsewhere)
Popsicles (and ice cream) (making them ourselves or going out for them)
Painting/playdoh/arts and crafts
We also do a weekly library trip, and I signed up for the Classic Children's Summer Book Club, which we did last year and there were so many good ones. Lee is always a big source of inspiration for what I reserve for the kids from the library (because if it were up to them they would only pick Barbie books and other low-quality books with pink covers), so I'm looking forward to making our way through this year's list!
meet Nick for lunch
I intend on cleaning out our craft drawers between now and when school lets out to assess whether we need any supplies. And we'll be pulling from some of these activities too, I'm sure.
CAMPS: Again, I think the key is to assess where we are, year by year, and decide if the camps will serve the family or not. As Sarah says, "We must do what works to keep us (as mothers) calm and settled and not burned out by July 15th." I love this!
Last year I ended up pulling the plug on camps because I had a new baby, Mimi was potty training, and having only one child (Eloise) do camps wouldn't have served us since the girls play nicely together most of the time. This year the girls will do three weeks of their school camp, a week of VBS, and Eloise will do a week of nature camp. We will also probably sign up for one session (two weeks) of swim lessons at the pool.
This still leaves about four open weeks for Eloise and six for Mimi, which feels about right. Some summers I've felt like we've had too many things and some summers not enough. I won't always get it right, but each year I try!
TRIPS: Nick and I will be going away for three days for our 10-year anniversary next month, and we're excited to spend another week in Cutchogue mid-summer as a family.
GOALS FOR ME:
read a ton of books
rest when possible
date my husband more than our typical once a month
go to the farmers market each week
finish my framing project—in the fall I had printed and framed my favorite family photos for our downstairs rooms, and now I have some work to do upstairs
I'm consciously going to defer working on getting ready for the baby until the fall when the girls are back in school. We will be busy this summer, and I want to be able to focus on the kids and having fun without a big project looming over my head. I'm sure I'll be jotting down my to-do list for getting George moved into his new room and getting the nursery ready / acquiring any newborn supplies we need, but this will be carried out in the fall.
for the kids: one hour of TV/day during George's afternoon nap so I can rest
for me: a social media fast! I've toyed with this idea in the past and have never done it. But this summer I'm doing it! I will still post pictures on Instagram since that's how I print photos for our albums, but I won't be scrolling. I see this really freeing up my brain space and free time so I can focus on reading and resting during down time.
CHORES: I've never really given my kids formal chores, but they do help out a decent amount around the house. Since I'll be waddling around this summer, I plan to jot down whatever needs to get done around the house each morning and have the girls help with whatever they reasonably can. Things like: watering the garden and planters, sweeping and mopping the porch, picking any produce from the garden.
FOOD: This is going to be a separate post, but I'm going to have a plan! Keeping everyone fed is a huge job each day, but especially during the summer, and I plan to keep a running list of snack and lunch ideas, as well as come up with a three-week dinner rotation (inspired by Sarah) that I repeat throughout the summer so I'm not constantly reinventing the wheel. And of course I'll be employing my cook once/eat multiple times dinner hack.
The goal is fresh, simple meals, and no recipes! I just can't bothered with a recipe anymore. I think summer food really lends itself to this style of cooking, and while I don't know if I'll ever enjoy cooking, I love going to the farmer's market each week and working with whatever fresh produce we have.
ERRANDS: Nick used to be much more available to help me with these on his way home for work, but now we're usually lucky if he makes it home in time for dinner. Taking three kids on errands isn't my favorite, and isn't how I'd like us to spend our time this summer. I'm sure there will be times when it's unavoidable, but I mostly plan on running any errands on the days my mom comes to help or going after the kids are in bed.
ON MESS: I'm willing myself to remember Proverbs 14:4, which says: "Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest." (This is explained much more eloquently and in-depth in this book.)
MONEY: My priority is simplicity this summer. Our vacations, camps, and pool membership were costly, so our day-to-day won't be. My priority and what fills me up is date nights with Nick, especially before a new baby comes, so I plan to cut back in other areas, mainly clothing.
Early spring is always a time of huge financial outlays on clothing for us, as Eloise and George always need entirely new wardrobes, and all the kids need shoes, bathing suits, etc. So I am going to try my hardest to not buy clothes this summer, including maternity clothes! Oh how done I am with buying maternity clothes! I'll be sure to invite you to my maternity-clothing bonfire once this baby is born.
I love the flexibility to adjust our days as necessary during the summer, but I am also a big believer in routine. George is still taking two naps a day, and may or may not go down to one nap this summer, so our routine will adjust to reflect that if it happens. For now I'm holding on to the two naps because it's working well for all of us.
Here is a general outline of how I see us spending our days:
7:00 wake up, get dressed, make beds
8:00 free play / outside / maybe a walk before it gets too hot
9:00 George naps. I plan on using this time for the girls to do arts + crafts and help me in the kitchen with dinner prep or a baking project / ice-cream making, etc. or anything else that needs to get done for the day
11:00 George wakes, head to the pool (or park, playground, etc.)
11:30 lunch at the pool, swim
1:30 shower at the pool (maybe—one summer this worked well and last summer it did not), head home
2:00 George naps, girls watch a show, I read/rest
3:00 free play / outside
5:00 jammies on, dinner prep, baths if we haven't gone to the pool
5:30/6 eat dinner
6:00 brush teeth, books
Our pool bag is packed and we are ready for you, summer!