Summer is fast and loose. Three kids, pregnancy, and a couple weeks in a row of no camps—it's hard! We've had an adjustment as we've settled into being home all day, all together. It's been a bit rocky.
There has been lots of sibling fighting, lots of yelling, lots of noise, and very little down time/rest. The house is a disaster always. We've had two brutal summer sicknesses, and I'm in PT for some crippling pelvic pain. George is finally down to one nap, and it's been an adjustment for all of us as our schedule shifts to accommodate it. The word that has most been going through my mind is BULK. Everything seems to be flying at me rapid speed, in massive quantities, all day long. Little bodies, food preparation, potty assistance, discarded belongings, dirty clothes.
BUT, I think the key has been to "stay the course" as my mom always says, or "put your head down" as Nick says and excels at. It's a new routine for all of us so there are bound to be bumps in the road. My kids have always been pretty good at taking pleasure in the little things, but it's required additional time and effort for them to learn to entertain themselves for all of their 12 waking hours—together—without the several hours of preschool to stimulate and occupy them.
The good news is I think we're settling in and finding our stride. We have been out in the backyard all morning now with just the baby pool out, and it's been enough for everyone. (I'm once again thanking my lucky stars for kids close in age.) The girls are currently flicking beetles off of our zinnias and George is doing what he does best (besides eat), wandering around getting into everything. Eloise has converted our playhouse into "the clinic" and she spends hours in there daily, fixing broken toys and playing doctor. Yesterday a large broken-down Amazon box became a dance stage and Solo cups became the lights lining it, as Eloise donned a tutu and ballet slippers while Mimi deejayed the event.
When the downward spiral of bad behavior begins, it's always my knee-jerk reaction to put everyone in the car and take them somewhere, and sometimes this is needed, but often it results in an even more frazzled mom and kids who constantly expect to find their entertainment elsewhere. I think I differ from many modern parents in that I don't typically play with my kids, and we don't seek our primary entertainment outside the house. They have each other for playmates! (And a dad, and grandparents, and friends.) I would probably feel differently if I worked and was apart from them, but we are together all day every day.
I view my role as facilitating a happy and safe environment so they can find their own fun. I am not a cruise director, and it serves all of us well for them to know how to play well together and independently. It allows (limited) time for mom to get the necessary things done around the house, and the benefits to them are many. There's a whole body of research on child-led play (versus adult-led play, which I call acting like a clown)—look it up! The creativity that can come from boredom is really astonishing...but it can take awhile to get there.
The hardest part, of course, is my attitude and perspective. I've been feeling a little sorry for myself which is never fun. But two things helped shift it a little bit:
Talking to other moms! I talked to a couple friends recently, both of whom have three kids, and summer being hard is not a phenomenon unique to our family. Sometimes that's all I need to know. When social media seems to be filled with people having their best summer/life ever, the comparison trap can make our own situation feel novel. Just because this summer is chaotic and exhausting (and really, just the past two weeks...we do have more camps/activities ahead, as well as a vacation) doesn't mean every summer will be. Just because this DAY, week or month is hard doesn't predict the future.
The other thing that helped change my mindset a bit: looking at our September calendar! I had filled in all the dates for Eloise's new school awhile back, and things like "spirit day" and "cafeteria volunteers meeting" are very quickly approaching. It will be a whole new world for her, as well as for us as a family, and I'm sure that shortly after we adjust to summer it will be over and she will be a big kid, in a big school, with a whole new set of things that go along with it! I have sometimes wished for the day when all the kids are in full-day school, but now that it's approaching for her I'm sad about it. Go figure!
So as hard as it can be, I'm going to snap myself out of it, practice a little self care, accept what is in front of me, and enjoy this time with these little people while they're still little.
After all, this is the easiest it will ever be.