Last year was my first “nap free summer” — as in, the first year I had two children awake, in need of entertainment. All. Effing. Day. Long.
I made a magic boredom eraser jar with little slips of activities… that crapped out by day 3. Then… I had… nothing. Most days, it was too hot to do much outside… so onto the screens they went. Just so momma could get some shit done!
This year, we’re all a little older and wiser. The kids are 6 and 9, and don’t need an entertainer as much as a guide (and driver, obviously).
About half way through the school year, I realized that my oldest was struggling when she would come home from school (cranky, tired, anxious, unfocused) except on days with some level of a schedule. Mondays, for example, were dance days — forcing her to do her homework while her sister danced. If she didn’t have homework, she had to read a book. This was something we extended to the rest of the week. In order for her to earn that precious computer time — she had to be without screens until 5p. I can’t even explain how well this worked. Sure, some days… she didn’t want to, but I’d be flexible if she didn’t have homework + wasn’t into reading; I’d have her write or draw instead.
Cut to the final weeks of school when I’m reading endless articles about living the “best summer of your life” by *not* scheduling anything!
That may work for some families!!
I would love it if it worked for us… but… it doesn’t.
And when you have one daughter who thrives on a schedule, and another who’s a go-with-the-flow gal — guess who wins?! The schedule-thriver.
I talked about it for weeks.
I have to make a schedule.
I will make a schedule.
Hmmm, what should I include on the schedule?
Then I blinked and the last day of school arrived — and as I whined and moaned about it ending, I finally put pencil to paper and sketched out a schedule.
The kids loved it.
I know it’s shocking, but that’s *not* a typo!
The girls were excited to see how I carved out outdoor time, screen time, reading time, art time, alone time, etc. I also added a little disclosure note at the bottom about reserving the right to change the schedule at any time for various reasons, and to be flexible — it’s SUMMER! And roughly sketched Olaf to lighten the mood. (when in doubt, quote Frozen)
While I haven’t been diligently following my own daily schedule — even after scheduling “momma’s work-time” during certain time-frames, — the kids have been using the schedule for the last week, and it’s… working.
I had a feeling it might… but I had no idea they’d love it as much as they do. Since unveiling the schedule last week, I haven’t heard “I’m bored” much at all. Sibling fights have been minimal. Sometimes they may want to move something around on the schedule, but… I’m absolutely fine with that. See what happens when you *start* out “strict”?! You = hero when you loosen up the reigns! Wins all around!
I’ve been joining the girls on a few art projects, outdoor activities and many other things I sometimes avoid just so I can get the dishes or laundry done… seeing it on the schedule not only prepares the kids, but gives me an opportunity to set things up, and helps me to plan my chores around the activities I’d like to share.
On that note, I thought about adjusting the schedule to add a daily chore or two, but for now, I do want all of us to have fun and enjoy the summer. Even if it is moderately scheduled — it’s helping us not only stay sane, but keep our noses out of electronics 24/7. *She says as her eyes peer over an electronic device… whoops.*
At 6 and 9… we only have a few “childhood” summers left. Our electronics and chores will be there tomorrow… or the next day… or the day after that. Sometimes, ya gotta enjoy the laughter with the people who are right in front of you! Especially faces like these.