Monday, June 14, 2010

Instead of Eeking Through the Summer

I had planned to write of other things tonight, thinking some of you may be tiring of me plastering my daily schedule up and down this blog a lot lately. But then a lovely friend sent me a link to a little podcast on ideas to do with your kids for the summer... and it was simple and easy and helpful, and so I thought I'd share those ideas here with you. If you don't have kids or if it's not summertime where you live, well- come back tomorrow because I really truly want to talk about something else soon.

I've been thinking about Pride (now there's a crowd-pleaser) and reading more from my man Lewis about that (I read the Bible too I promise but he's more cheeky and thus more fun to quote), and I've really been wanting to make some cheese. Maybe now that I've named those topics it will force me to follow through on them.

Back to the summertime activities. You can listen to the podcasts here, (the June 7th and 9th broadcasts of Homemakers By Choice) but if that is not your thing, I'm posting her list and ideas below. 

One thing that stood out to me as I listened was the reminder that to be with your children is something you should embrace. It's something we should strive for. That almost sounds too obvious, like to say that out loud would imply that you are ever NOT striving to be with them. And yet, it's the way we talk when gathered groups of mothers giddily chat about the return of the school year and how ready we are to get them out of the house-- which is nothing less than realistic. Being full on all the time is hard and tiring, mentally, emotionally and (depending on the age of your children) physically exhausting work. But sometimes we do seem to fall into that habit of talking like we are owed any and every break we can get. 

Anyway, I shouldn't harp too much about that. It's just something for me (and I'm sure some of you) to think about. These are my children, given for a span of time, to invest in and nurture to my fullest capacity. It's not a chore, it's not just a job, it's my life's work really. That doesn't mean I have to think of it with rose-colored, June Cleaver-glasses all the time. Maybe it just means I should embrace it and not bear it like a burden.

As for me, I am certainly a rapidly flapping see-saw in this regard: embracer one day, bearing it like a burden the next. And I was fully expecting, in my bearing sort of way, to be spending most of these three weeks as a single parent in a state of mourning and depression-- eeking by on fumes of patience and barely held together strings of fortitude. So, it has been a pleasant surprise, a blessing really that these past 8 days have been filled with more joy and fun than I had anticipated. That's where the pride comes in that I hope to think more on later. It's so easy, when things are going well, to start patting ourselves gently on the back and then more vigorously as we ruminate over what an absolutely splendid job we're doing. Then a bad day comes and our impatience and ideas run out and we feel pouty and irritable, turning either to self-pity and excuses or to self-loathing, which is all sort of wrapped up in pride too. But really, that's for later. So back to the summer.

First, a thought (courtesy of Pat Mersiowsky): don't pack your summer full of camps and things to send your kids away to (really? not even an option here but still a good point to think on). Keep them with you and embrace it. Plan a summer full of simple, but fun and interesting things to do together.

Weekly Schedule Ideas: (courtesy of Pat Mersiowsky, with a few of my ideas thrown in there)
  • Music Monday (go to a concert in the park, make a musical instrument, learn new songs together, listen to things you don't normally, play broadway music, put on a family concert)
  • Tasty Tuesday (kids help make a big breakfast, special shaped pancakes, spend lots of time that day in the kitchen, teach them to make something by themselves, have lunch under the table:)
  • Wacky Wednesday (mix things up- breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast, backwards day, play outside in the rain, wear crazy outfits)
  • Thoughtful Thursday (quieter,down day, read for several hours at different periods-- kid to kid, child to parent, parent to child, alone, write stories, stories on tape)
  • Field Trip Friday (go somewhere fun! Fulfill some of their adventure dreams... waterparks or zoos, museums or farms, etc.)
  • Skillful Saturday (kids help with projects around the house)
  • No TV for a Week, Week. Or no TV Tuesday. You'd be surprised how much less TV you watch once you try it!
Fun, Simple Activities to Do with your Kids (courtesy of Donna Otto)
  • Read to others (the children read to someone, an elderly person, a sibling, a grandma or auntie)
  • Help a neighbor do anything
  • Plant something, somewhere, and watch it grow
  • Paint something
  • Feed the animals (birds, whatever you have in your yard, visit a farm?)
  • Fly a kite... make a kite!
  • Visit museums, statues, memorials
  • Chalk drawings (on your patio, driveway, outside walls to your garage)
  • swinging and climbing, even if it's supervised on a ladder set up outside!
  • Ride a bike (family bike rides!)
  • Have a parade
  • Walk, somewhere.
  • Bring flowers to someone (or a written message, or baked something, or all three) that they choose
  • Make a collection of something this summer
  • Paint each other (not with nail polish). A bald head is a great addition to this activity
  • Do something with water outside
  • Let your children be around elderly people
  • Go on a nature walk, with a bag, a notebook and a magnifying glass.
Last night the boys and I camped out in the living room. There was absolutely nothing spectacular about it except that it was different and felt special and brought lots of excitement with very little required on my part (except a much earlier wakeup call than normal. Thank you summer sun for shining at 4 a.m. when no one needs you yet!!). There were plenty of moments when whining and crying and sharp words gained the upper hand so don't be fooled by my sharing of our high points. But high points they are and we are exceedingly thankful for them.

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