The days are longer and the nights are shorter, like Mom’s patience – we are talking about Summer! My kids are rejoicing and my mom friends and I are tentatively celebrating the end of homework – yay! We all know what is headed our way – late nights, houses full of friends, endless trips to the grocery store and the dreaded words, “I’m bored.” Don’t get me wrong, I love summer, but my vision of summer in a rustic beach cottage reading books and strolling quiet beaches and my reality with four kids at home (not located on the beach) are very different! How do we make our reality more like our dream?
The reality is that summers are easier with older kids – they are more independent! A few summers ago, I ran into a friend one hot July afternoon at Target with my four wild kids, and she looked so refreshed and relaxed with her teenage daughters. We spoke briefly and I asked what they were up to this summer. She answered calmly that they were enjoying these hot afternoons reading and napping!! What?!? Really? My mind was blown!
I thought this would never happen in my house, but I am here to tell you that this is a slight possibility for me this summer – my girls have chosen books to read and seem content with the idea…it is early and time will tell, but I am hopeful!
For the rest of you with young kids, I have a few tips.
First, Keep a routine – This is for the kids and you. Start every morning with a schedule for the day allowing for downtime and naps as well as snacks and meals and ending with a set bedtime for your sanity and theirs!! This bedtime gives you something to look forward to all day or during any meltdown, and also allows your child the rest he needs to avoid meltdowns. If your days are really long, I suggest curtains with blackout linings, these are great for energy efficiency too, and available at a reasonable price from many retailers, including Target! I bought a set recently for my girls’ room and love them!
Second, Leave the house once a day! This may sound silly, but this gives the kids something to look forward to, as well as you. A change in environment is often just what we need to refocus our attention and thoughts. This outing can be a simple walk down your street, a trip to the library or museum, grocery store – use your imagination, but remember the simpler, the better – make this an easy part of the day. My kids love the grocery store outings where I send them to get items on the list. (Only try this on a good day with young kids) My girls started helping me around the age of 4 by selecting fruits and their favorite snacks, and now at 12, they are very helpful and can run in alone to grab ice cream or a forgotten item for me – nice perk from my summers of training! The library is another great spot full of free activities for the kids to participate – always encourage reading and you might have those quiet afternoons! The library is also a good solution for the child who struggles to enjoy reading – he can check out several books at once to try!
Last but not least, Relax and lower your expectations. The house is not going to stay clean, the kids are going to test your patience, and things will not go as planned, but these are all memory making moments, so enjoy! Stay in the moment and enjoy your kids because they will not be young forever. One summer soon, they will be those quiet kids reading and napping in the afternoons and you will miss the crazy! My grandmother would tell me to cherish every moment because these memories are what keep us going. So do just that, enjoy summer, the good, the bad and especially the crazy!
Grace & Peace,