Thoughts on Summer
We are just about a week into summer break, and I've collected some thoughts on summer, if you'd like to read.
PERSPECTIVE: Summer can be intense and sooooo much togetherness, but instead of going into it looking at it as such, I'm trying to focus on the other side of it, which is that the days, while long, can also be more laid back if I help them be. Summer days eliminate the stressful moments of getting to school, getting home from school and quickly trying to put three kids down for naps/quiet time before it gets too late in the day and everyone gets overtired, and our days can flow more naturally which is a nice reprieve.
SCHEDULE: George is still taking 4-5 naps a day, and will likely go down to 4 and eventually 3 this summer, so our schedule will shift based on the nap. You'd think by the third kid I would become less of a nap Nazi, but a leopard can't change its spots. We pretty much are home for naps, other than once or twice a week if our schedule really can't permit. It just makes life easier. I plan on easing into summer and giving us a couple of weeks and let a schedule naturally form, but so far, it has looked like this:
Outside or outing
ME TIME: Summer is full throttle, and I plan on preserving those times of day when I recharge as much as possible. I've also started to ponder limiting social media for the summer. I still plan on posting photos on Instagram since that's how I most easily print photos (I am probably one of the few people on earth who still maintains photo albums, and I do a quarterly order from Mpix, which I've found to be really high quality prints and their app easily links to Instagram). But I might take a break from the constant scrolling through everything else. My brain feels like it might need a clear-out, since my mind always feels extra cluttered when life is extra busy.
YELLING: Although we had a good summer last year, I found myself doing a lot of yelling. I'm going to try and use my nice voice as much as possible. I've also noticed a direct correlation between how physically uncomfortable I am (usually hot and/or tired and/or hungry) and how much I yell. So in summer this will mean keeping cool whenever possible and not letting myself get overly exhausted or hungry. Easier said than done!
ACTIVITIES: Again, we are keeping it simple this summer. No bucket lists or high expectations here. I have started to keep a loose list of simple ideas for when the mood does strike to do something extra--strawberry picking, maybe a couple beach days, MAYBE the zoo if we're really feeling frisky. The girls will likely both do a week of nature camp and a week of VBS. Eloise is signed up for our town rec program, which is a 3-hour morning program for 5 weeks. But honestly I'm torn about whether these camps are really much help, or if it's more schlepping for George and me. I sort of feel like kids can entertain themselves whether it's in the backyard or on the moon (case in point, we took Eloise to the Central Park Zoo when she was a little under 2 and she chased the pigeons the whole time; Mimi, at a different local petting zoo, was chasing feral cats).
VACATION: Just say no. I do not love traveling, and I really don't love traveling with little kids. We're in a phase of life where vacation is a lot of work. It's hard to justify the money and energy to have a marginal/exhausting experience, so we opted to join the pool instead and spend lots of time there. Time will come for fun family vacations.
ERRANDS: Outsource the heck out of them. I'm lucky to have a husband who is high-energy and one of the things he most often reminds me is "Lean on me." Whatever errands I can outsource to him, I do, and I don't feel guilty about it anymore because he doesn't mind and would rather have a happy wife and kids who have spent the day doing summer things instead of errands.
GOALS FOR THE KIDS: Every day, I try to incorporate: reading, art, free play, and as much outside time as possible. I've also started something I'm calling "book basket time" where I take a bunch of new library books out for them each week, fill up an extra basket with them, and lay out a blanket and tell them we're having Book Basket time. I've started this by reading with them but I'd like to see if I can transition it to 30 minutes or so each morning where they're independently looking at books and I'm also reading so I can get a morning pause in. They may be too young for this though, so we'll see how it evolves. So far we haven't needed the TV much at all, and I'd like to limit TV to when I truly need to get something done, but there will of course be days when the TV is on more than I'd like and that's ok too.
GOALS FOR ME: Rest when they rest, keep meals simple (complete with lots of paper plate use, sorry environment), read lots of books, date my husband a bit more frequently than our typical once a month. On a larger scale, I'd also like to update our framed photos around the house, frame some of the girls' artwork, and put the rest of the keepers in some kind of portfolio system.
THE MESS: Summer is a messy time. I'm trying to remind myself this over and over and embrace it a bit instead of fighting it and being frazzled by it. I typically pick up the house before naps and before the kids go to bed, and am trying to limit the picking up to those two times so I don't feel like all I ever do is straighten up.
SET UP FOR SUCCESS: My kids are typically really happy playing outside with sticks and rocks. However, we've tried to set ourselves up for summer success by adding some other things like a sandbox (which Nick built and is awesome), a tree swing, and a pool (thanks Mom!). Inside, I bought an additional set of their beloved Magnatiles, which they've been getting tons of use out of lately, and new Boogie Boards for each girl. Another HUGE help indoors has been the finished basement that Nick has been chipping away at since the winter.
ON FIGHTING + BAD MOODS: I will not referee. I will not referee. I will not referee. The girls are getting to the ages where they are sometimes able to work things out on their own, and if I'm constantly jumping in to referee, I limit their ability to do so. I don't want to spend my summer feeling like I'm playing whack-a-mole with behavior, and I'm sure they don't want to feel like I'm hovering over them and trying to control their every spat. So, WORK IT OUT, kids. My philosophy on crying (the non-emergent sort) is akin to "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it really make a sound?" Of course if they can't work it out and/or if there is physical harming involved, I step in.
We usually have free play after breakfast while George naps and I do a devotion/drink coffee/do whatever I need on the computer, and the other morning I could tell it was going to be one of those mornings where free play was not going to go well. So on the music went! Why do I always forget about this? On go the Raffi and Elizabeth Mitchell stations on Spotify, and it seems to lift everyone out of their bad mood instantly.
Here's to a happy summer!