What do you do with your kids all summer long?
Here at Shenanigans Inc. we love summer! We love the late nights on the soccer field, the sunshine, the bonfires, the BBQ's, the swimming, and the break from our schedule.
Well, that is not entirely true. So, let me try it again: we love the break from our school year schedule because the summer schedule is so much better!
You got it!
We have tried something new and something oh, so very awesome. I have implemented a summer schedule. Now before you go and think I have lost my mind entirely, like my dear friend Sara does, or that I am the world's biggest party pooper (because you know that's just not true), let me explain. Elliot, my sweet tender-hearted Elliot, has been asking for a schedule displayed openly in our home for about a year now. Elliot is my anxious child, and we have been working with him to help him identify those things that make his "belly hurt". One of the big stressers in his life is not knowing what to expect from the day and being unable to manage his time well enough to make sure that key elements in his day are not missed, like the highly coveted screen time. Well, being a little OCD myself, the thought of creating a schedule, one that could be proudly displayed for the world to see, overwhelmed me, but a year later I have finally taken the plunge and made one. There is so much to take in consideration when one is creating something of this magnitude. First of all, it has to be flexible, it has to be able to incorporate the million and one directions we are all going in at one time, and it has to be visually appealing.
It's amazing what you can do with some card stock and a laminator. Yes I own a laminator. How embarrassing, right?
Again, before you call Social Services to have my children removed from my care for denying them the basic necessity of a schedule-less summer vacation, hear me out. Each day the kids get up and do their morning routine. Okay, this is brilliant! They get dressed, put their jammies away, say their prayers, make their bed, have breakfast and brush their teeth. Easy cheesy! Then, we do about an hour and a half of work, which includes reading, journal writing, math, and piano. After which, we head outside for a little soccer action and gardening (two of my most favourite things). By 11 am, they are done! They have the rest of the day to relax, play, or find adventure. Around 3pm, we then kick back into gear to do our chores, and at 4pm, let the angels sing, it's screen time! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
You must also understand that this is not a rigid schedule. Some days, like on Tuesday, we don't do chores or screen time because we were having too much fun with our friends at the covered bridge swimming, eating, and chatting. Or some days, like yesterday, when everyone is pooped from the evening before's soccer game, we sleep in a little.
So why bother doing it, you ask? I want my kids to learn how to manage their time and make the most out of each day. I want them to learn that life is about working and playing, and I want them to understand that when you achieve a balance between these two ideals that life can be oh, so very rewarding! Just ask Avery what Friday is? Whenever the schedule is mentioned, he pipes up: "Friday is payday"!
How's the schedule going, you ask? I am shocked how well the kids have adapted. They swear that it is the bane of their existence, but they are beginning to do it without me asking. I am loving it! We are getting all those important things that I have always promised myself we would do like journal writing done early in the day so that we can fill the remainder of our day with fun things like swimming, games, and skating. Really, you must try it! Oh, and the best part is that Elliot, who can really fall off his rocker in the summer or anytime when there is no routine in place, has been much more relaxed and much more like his ol' adorable, adventurous self.
But, the best part of this schedule is that we can really make the most of each day. Like yesterday, after all of our tasks were completed, Elliot went to his friend Connor's house to swim in their pool and Avery spent the day with his buddy, Declan, swimming, boating, and tubing. Man, my kids have awesome friends! Anyhoo, this left the entire afternoon open for Zoe and I to be together, which has become one of my summer goals as well to spend more individual time with my kids. They are growing up so fast, I want to really enjoy them and get to know them really well. It amazes me how easy it is to let an entire day slip by without taking the time to have some spirit-to-spirit contact with those you love. Those precious moments when you truly "see" them and really listen to what they are saying. It is sacred!!
But I digress . . .
As soon as Zoe heard the boys had plans, she squealed: "I'm getting out the Keesdrow game, mom!". What can I say, we truly are game crazy around here.
Keesdrow, or wordseek backwards, is one of our favourite games because just the two of us play it. You have to find words on the board, and each time you use a letter (up to 3X), the value of that letter increases. You only have two minutes, and we introduced a whole new level of challenge to the game yesterday, where you have to find as many words as possible in two minutes rather than seeking out that most valuable word. It was so much fun, but very intense! As if you would expect anything less from the two of us . . . tee hee!
On our last turn, we were neck and neck. I finished with a score of 473 and Zoe just needed 21 points to beat me. It was her turn. I flipped the timer and she was off. I thought I had the game in the bag because the board was a sea of red pegs, or letters that could no longer be used, but she's awesome at strategy games and she did it! She found two words that I did not see before. Just as the very last piece of sand was dropping into the mini hourglass, she asked: "Can I use the same word if it is in a different place on the board".
I replied: "Yes, you can but your time is up, and I have won!!!". Woohoo! I was elated! I never win against her, and I had just won by a whopping 6 points.
But, in true Webster fashion, she contested. She was adamant that if she did not have to ask the question, she would have started the word just in the nick of time and would have won. But I, on the other hand, was adamant that knowing the rules is part of the game so I won because she did not, in fact, start her word on time. Isn't spirit-to-spirit contact sweet? Perhaps it can be if those spirits are not highly competitive and very intense . . . tee hee!
But, in spite of our varying perspectives on the results of the game, we had a blast. We laughed, we talked, and we enjoyed being together.
I am so blessed to have a daughter as awesome as she is. Even if she really is a sore loser . . . tee hee!
So, now I ask you: is the summer schedule really so bad? Am I truly an awful mom for making them get up at 8am, completing a few homework tasks and doing some chores so that we can fill our afternoons with fun and adventure?
I think not, but then again, what do I know, I'm just the mom!