It’s almost here. We’ve officially wrapped up homeschool, Miss Celia’s school is on its final stretch, and we’re already getting the emails that slots are filling fast- we have to register for camps now if we want to guarantee a space! Wasn’t it just Christmas? I feel like I was drinking a hot toddy and dreading gift wrapping responsibilities not two weeks ago. Yet here we are.
I have these fond memories of babysitting in the summers- in those days you didn’t have to have a car to be a babysitter- and riding my bike to the families I’d watch during the days. I didn’t have to take kids to practices or games or camps- we just goofed off with other kids in the neighborhood. Maybe we went to the neighborhood pool for swimming lessons or for fun, but mostly we spent our mornings on the trampolines and our afternoons inside trying to make lemonade with powdered Kool-Aid mix. Those were the days.
Fast forward to being a mom. When I was working, this was a no-brainer. The kids went to camp. Usually a YMCA camp, because that’s who provided after-school care for us, and that’s who had great programs in place for special needs kids. But when I started staying home, I realized why all these moms were sooooo ready for the school year to start back every August. Entertaining kids is exhausting. So is getting them to the million places they need to go. And so is keeping track of everything they’re supposed to do. My brain hurts just thinking about it.
I learned something last year:
- I’m not a huge fan of travel with little people.
- I’m not a cruise director.
- There is considerable burnout waiting for the homeschool mom who tries to do those things and whose kids do not return to school in the fall.
It’s just not in our budget to send our kids to a super-fun camp environment every week of the summer (add to that the fact that there’s no camp for an infant and a 2-year old who are hell-bent on destruction…I’ve already checked). So I’ve had to come up with some alternatives for us. The second half of last summer for us marked my decision to stop working for these kids and start making them work for me, and I’m absolutely invoking the same principle here. Check out our summer plans:
- Mom’s World of Furniture Art: Yep. These kids are getting to work painting old dressers for their soon-to-be shared living quarters. I’m less concerned with professionalism and more concerned with them being part of the work that goes into their new room, and with all the pieces we have to paint, I’m guessing this will be a few hours every day for a week.
- Meal Prep helpers: My people actually love cooking and helping in the kitchen, so this is pretty solid. I’m currently working on my masters, and I have summer classes in the evenings, so these guys are going to be part of my crock-pot cooking school. (I’ll be letting the older ones do the chopping, the little guy do the stirring and pouring, and each of them will get to help with menu planning)
- Neighborhood roughhousing: Possibly my favorite. We spent this year really getting to know our neighbors. Now I know the parents of the kids in all the surrounding houses (to be fair, we’re in a gated townhome community, so I can literally look outside and see everything that’s going on), and our kids all come and go freely. I’m anticipating lots of tree-climbing, caterpillar-chasing, and fort-building.
- Some museum visits: We do have memberships to local fun, like The High Museum and Fernbank Natural History Museum, which we love to visit with friends, especially when it gets too hot, and we love the Center for Puppetry Arts and their summer shows.
- And yes, a few camps: We had a few mini-camps this summer, an art one and a cooking one (sensing a theme with my people?), and of course, Vacation Bible School.
There’s not a lot of pre-planning here. I’m not sectioning out dress-up materials and face paints (I may actually have attempted that last year as I tried to keep my people entertained), and I haven’t compiled a summer reading list. I have high hopes of attempting an astronomy workbook with the girls, only because they are early-bedtimers during the school year and summer gives us my only hope for staying up late enough to see stars. And I’m sure we’ll make many trips to our library and our neighborhood pool and splash pad. But those will have to come together organically. My brain needs a break from planning and organizing for a bit. My only other plan to beat the burnout? Mom Non-Negotiables.
- I will have my coffee every morning before we leave to go anywhere.
- Everyone gets one hour of downtime every day. If that means PBS kids is on, so be it. I am absolutely going to read or knit or something, by myself.
- I will have a mother’s helper so that I can get things done a few days a week, and so the kids are used to seeing someone other than me from time to time.
- The hubs and I will have date night, even if it’s a once-a-week movie rental from iTunes and a quick trip to a juice bar.
My other feel-good trick to kicking off the summer? Our new favorite tradition: a Family Summer Fun Playlist. And the unanimous pick to kick off this year’s summer fun? Here you go: