The school year is quickly coming to a close. In just about 8 weeks or so the kids will be out of school for the year and I will begin my third summer at home with them. I’ve written about it before, but to recap my first summer home with the kids was somewhat a disaster. We didn’t make the decision to have me stay at home until about 2 weeks before the school year ended so I didn’t have time to make any plans for entertaining my kids all summer long. Twelve weeks with three bored kids who couldn’t go outside due to oppressive heat is enough to make anyone completely crazy.
With that in mind I made sure that my second summer at home with them was filled to the brim with activities. I was determined to not have the constant “I’m bored” whine be prevalent throughout the summer vacation. I booked camps, swim lessons, planned themed activities for each day of the week, not to mention field trips and other outings. I was so rigid in my planning that I didn’t make any allowances for downtime or bad weather. And for the second summer in a row we had to spend a lot of it indoors because for the first 4-5 weeks of summer vacation it rained pretty much every single day.
The nice thing about my plan was that the kids knew exactly what to expect each and every day. The downside to my plan was when life got in the way and we weren’t able to follow through with the plan they got really crabby about it. So now is the time of year when I start thinking about the upcoming summer vacation. I am determined this year to finally get it right. My new plan for this year is to have some things planned, ready to pull out the instant kids start to say that they’re bored, but be more flexible in my planning to allow for things to get in the way or change my plans.
The biggest difference between this year and last is our outside time. I’m still planning on spending time outside every day if we can, but don’t feel the need to plan specific outdoor activities. There’s enough things to do outside that don’t require any planning, swimming in the backyard, working in the garden (which the kids have all requested to do again this summer. They really enjoyed watching the fruits of their labors growing all summer long), going to the park, etc.
Another big difference is that last year we went to parks all over the city to give the kids some variety. However this year Kaylee is no longer in diapers and I don’t want to be caught miles from home with no bathroom in sight and have her suddenly need to go. That would do nothing but ruin everyone’s good time. With a park just down the street the worst that would happen is I’d have to drag everyone home for about 10 minutes.
I’ve also got quite a few more indoor activities planned, and they aren’t all fun and games. I’m planning to use at least some of our time this summer to work on things that the kids need to work on. Some of those ideas include working on an alphabet train with the two younger kids, and a US map with Brendan; working on writing letters and numbers with Kaylee, and teaching Brendan and Cameron their address and phone number (Yeah, we are WAY past time of needing to do that with Brendan); and most importantly working on shoe tying with all of the kids. I don’t have high hopes that Brendan will manage it, but I think Cameron could be tying his own shoes by the time he gets into first grade in the fall.
On the surface those things don’t sound too terribly fun, but my goal is to make them fun so the kids look forward to working on them. Brendan has been studying the states at school this year and he’s really interested in the subject. He happened to get a set of flash cards with some fun facts on them in his stocking this past Christmas and I think he’ll really enjoy working with me to learn about each of the states in detail over the summer. The alphabet train should be a great activity for the kids as well. Not only will they get to decorate boxes with construction paper and other art supplies, then they’ll get to go on a scavenger hunt through the house to find things that start with the letter of the day to put into their box.
I’m hoping this new plan will make for a stress free summer vacation. It’ll be a lot of work, they always are, but if I can get the right balance of activity and free time maybe, just maybe, it’ll go a little more smoothly.