Every household has its own set of gifts and challenges and the end of the school year is one of them. I (nearly) always enjoyed having my children home for the summer. They brought an energy I enjoyed and for the most part they were great to be around. Over the years I learned a few things that were helpful for me, though. I will pass these along as 3 practices that might help make summer even more fun. I am going to call them: how long does this take, plan your days, and know your limits.
This is a very basic, but very important principle. Here is an example from my life today. I used to think that it took me 30 minutes to shower, dress and do my morning routine. I also used to think it took 30 minutes to run a vacuum around my house. Then one day I timed myself. I learned that it takes me just over an hour to do my morning routine and that I can vacuum my house in about 10 minutes. So much for ‘this will just take a minute’ thinking. The more you understand how long things take, the less chaotic your day will be. For instance, do you know the average length of time it will take you to round up the children, help them find and get their shoes on and get them into the car? How long does it take to make most of your dinners including clean up? How long does it take to go to 3 stores on errand day with 3 ‘helpers’ in tow? Knowing how long things take can help when comes to the next suggestion; plan your days.
I am not talking about really regimenting your day. I am suggesting a general plan for each day. This might include keeping close to a regular bed and wake up time. What day are you going to grocery shop? Every day? Twice a week? Does the family room get picked up before dinner or before bed? What day do the bathrooms get cleaned? Here is my daily list of what rooms get focused each day.
Monday: errands and front porch
Tuesday: living room and/or family room
Wednesday: bathrooms, menu plan, grocery shop
Thursday: kitchen including cleaning out frig and mopping floor
Fri: dining room and family room
Sunday: free day
Now add in sports and other activities to the proper days. Then add any other commitments and plans. How much time is left? What would you like to do with it?
The most important thing is that the plan works for you life, so make your days your own. If you know how long something takes, it makes it easier to fit into your day.
Knowing your limits and making sure your children know your limits is an invaluable tool. No one wants to spend their summer arguing over every little thing. Decide now whether you want to be the house everyone hangs out at, or if you are only going to allow 1 extra visitor per child. How much television or video game time is allowed every day? Will there be reading time, chore time, and if so, how long will they be? And one more word to the wise. Ease up on yourself. Choose fun with the kids more often than not. Rae has made a fun countdown to summer banner and I love her idea of writing some questions or plans for summer down on them and then discussing them at dinner or snack time. Talking about things beforehand is always better if you can. And some subjects will need to be visited more than once.
Here is a story about a time I hit my limit with my 3. One day we were going to see one of the (then) new Ghost Buster movies. We stopped at a local mall to do a couple of things before the movie. As we were leaving the mall an argument about who was riding shotgun erupted. The theater was only about 6 blocks away, and I couldn’t believe who was going to sit shotgun was worth all the angst. So I decided that I was going to step out of the argument and let them decide. I had reached my limit. We were going to sit on the curb until they decided. It took a long time, but they finally worked it out. And the winner got to ride shotgun all the way home because it was too late to go to the movie. And they developed a system of sorts for the shotgun problem. And I loved that I never had to raise my voice, lecture or make an ‘unfair’ decision about who called shotgun first. But more importantly, I never had to hear an argument about who sat where. By the way, in my day shotgun was called stickman. It gave you the right the control what everyone listened to on radio. AM only -there was no FM! Some things just never change.
Here’s to a happy summer & happy mamas!
xo . jane
you can download a countdown to summer bunting by clicking on the image: