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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"I'm guessing you don't have much experience with heat."

"Nope, but sometimes I like to close my eyes and imagine what it'll be like when summer DOES come, sigh"

Recognize this line?

  If not, you've missed out on one of the best songs from the movie Frozen (in my humble opinion).  Olaf the snowman just cracks us all up! The song title is In Summer. We have several of the soundtracks songs on my iPhone.

  Our summer is going great her in the Cville! Over this past week I've had 2 different conversations with friends about summer. I thought it'd make a great blog post.

  We all have our own summer ideas, right!? A plan, or not a plan, or somewhere in between. Those seem to be the 3 categories of life in general (the left, the right, the middle).  Mom, wants a break from the norm and less 'to do's'.  Kids want time with friends and at the pool and some also want the opportunities that various camps provide.  But, how do us mom's manage everyone's expectations?  How do we help create happy summer memories for our kids while staying balanced?  Are we not once again being called to sacrificial love by needing to think of others more than ourselves?  Yes, summer is partially about getting a break from the normal school routine and relaxing in the sun.  I believe that whole heartedly!  But help create 'happy summer memories' WITH our kids NOT JUST FOR them.  And it's important that we really KNOW our kids and ask them what they want to do for the summer. I think this is really important.  As our children get older it is more and more important to give them choices and voices.  Ask and listen.  Don't assume.  And don't get caught in the trap of thinking they want what you want.  It's not always the case. And I've found that some of my kids want what I want this summer, but others have different ideas.  Now to mesh that...

  Here is the list of what our summer looks like:

  Let me start off by saying the first two weeks of our summer (which were in mid May) I 'tested' us a bit by having no plan each day and kinda 'floating' as some would call it. THAT did not work...for any of us! There was too much wasted time. Remember our virtue of the year?  Too much unstructured time throws us all into unpeacefulness and unproductiveness. Therefore, we have our structured school year and summer.  Both plans mesh well and work for us.

  Leisure in the morning routine for us means eating between 8:30-9am.  A whole hour+ later than during the school year ; ) Plenty of relaxing if you ask us.  My kids wake up pretty hungry, but during the summer they are busy reading and just being kids at the start of the morning so we push breakfast back just a bit so it feels 'summery' and different. I've found great difficulty in changing my own personal routine from school year to summer, so I maintain a 6am wakeup time year round unless for some reason we're out super late or possibly on vacation.

  After breakfast the kids have morning jobs: clear/wipe/sweep, unload dishes, load dishes. We have a rotating system with these post breakfast chores so that everyone gets practice doing all of them. And we also have #5 and #6 rotating with the unloader, but they also have their random other chores which they do on an as needed basis at this stage in their life.

  This summer we have been trying something new.  By tuning into our kids and their growing up and they fact they 'life lessons' which we need to help them learn, we decided to present a challenge for our 4 oldest kids.  During one of our date nights we discussed what we saw each 'older child' (#1-#4) needing to work on- think character qualities and virtues here.  Once we determined that area for each child we came up with summer 'jobs' for each one- also based on age.  So, after breakfast each child is responsible for getting their 'job' done for the day.  Their jobs range in difficulty and the time needed to complete each one varies, but nonetheless they are all learning some very valuable lessons and we love seeing the fruits of this parenting decision.
  The only other structured part of their day is what we are calling this year...brain workouts.  Each child is doing brush up work (we always do this in the summer) to keep their minds stimulated and growing.  Think reading, math facts, etc.  I won't go through the details of all of these items because each child is doing different things on different days, but the reason we do this each summer is to not 'lose time' when the school year starts by having to review or back track because they have 'forgotten' things. We've never had this issue and I attribute it to having done a minimal amount of brain workouts each summer.

  The rest of the day they are free to do whatever 'summer things' they enjoy.  30 min. of screen time can be earned each day when their summer job is finished and they have done their brain workout for the day.  They enjoy that 30 min! And I'm happy to allow it especially during the hot humid summer days in VA.

  This is our plan for summer growth and fun!!!

  We hope your summer is just right for you and your family and most importantly that you stay safe and grow in closeness!

Staying 'cool' this summer! 

Doing lots of learning! Swim lessons really helped her!

#5 in the big pool with #4! So thankful for siblings who really love each other and bigs who want to help littles and who get excited about their successes!!!

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