As a teacher, I long for and crave summer. I love the freedom, the sleep, the time to pay attention to life and my family. I have it up on a pedestal. Once it’s here and I’m spending the day with chores, attitude, demands, and schedules, I wonder why I love it so much. Summer is busy and exhausting in its own way.
A few weeks ago, I spent time running around, unpacking, and then laid up due to an old back injury while my kids were at day camp. They came home with requests of baseball, swimming, and play dates. I conceded and gave them their way more times than I should have and we all know the week didn’t end well with a tough lesson learned on that Friday night.
A couple of days later, I dropped the kids off at sleep away camp and had a few days to myself to search my soul. “How can I make summer better for all of us?” I came up with a few ideas that are mostly working, so I wanted to share with you.
1. If I’m outside, they’re outside. Of course kids will have a lot of energy if they are reading and playing quietly while I’m mowing the lawn in the hot summer sun. Neither child is able to help very much with yard work yet. They help me until it’s no longer helping, then they have to ride bikes, walk the dog, or ride their scooters while I’m pacing the yard with our lawn mower. While the kids NEVER run out of energy, it does help with our family dynamic to have them active while I’m active too.
2. Exercise is my time. I came home from BlogU ready to buckle down again and find my happy exercise place. It’s important and I let that part of me slide the past 18 months. I’ve recently started a program I bought ages ago. At first, I’d get cranky because the kids would come in ask questions and get in the way during my 30 to 60 minute exercise routine. Now, I tell them from this time to this time, I’m busy. They may not do anything that interrupts me OR makes a mess that they need my help to clean up. Also, in the evenings, we have family exercise time. Most of the time it’s a walk with the dog and time to play at the park. It helps us connect after busy days and end on a happy note.
3. Family Chores. We’ve had a good chore system in place for two years now. Instead of changing it, I’ve made it better. We now have family chores which means we ALL WORK until the work is done. In the past, once they were done and the quality was approved, they were free. Now, we ALL WORK THE WHOLE TIME. I can say, my kids are very interested in learning more ways to help since they can’t have free time, until I have free time. This also means they have a lot less free time and more skills. EVERYBODY wins, except they don’t always think so.
4. There is no such thing as ‘I can’t do it or I can’t find it.’ For years I have tried teaching my kids table manners, and basic life skills like laundry, cleaning, mopping, etc. I have taught them over and over. They are intelligent children, who need problem solving skills in order to survive. Now, I give them a task, and I might show them again. Then, they are expected to do it. If they can’t remember, I give them LOTS of time to figure it out. Guess what, they have been able to figure out A LOT of things they tried to quit right away. (I actually have ANOTHER post about this, stay tuned.)
5. I remind them to be “Happy and Grateful.” My kids HATE IT when I say, “Are you happy and grateful for mad and bratty?” It normally comes after a demand of theirs was not met like ice cream after the pool or some insignificant problem like that. It reminds them to be grateful what they have been given, instead of upset about not getting their way. They also know, after years of training, that the more ungrateful they are, the less fun things happen. I also work at communicating my feelings with the kids. I’m known to say, “When you were angry at me for not taking you out for ice cream, it hurt my feelings because we spent the afternoon at the pool.” In return, my kids are learning how to communicate their feelings with me. We are talking more, and frustrated less.
People who know us in real life know that we are not perfect and I’m certainly not trying to paint a picture that we are. We are hopelessly flawed and human. I’m not a “know it all” Mom and I have plenty of ways I can be better. However, these are few things that really changed our summer around. Do they work 100% all of the time? Of course not, but on a daily basis, they are helping our family enjoy each other more. I just wanted to share since they helped us, maybe there’s another mom out there looking for ideas on how to enjoy her summer with her kids.
I hope you are having a wonderful summer! Any tips you’d like to share with me?
If you liked this post, you need I Still just want to Pee Alone.