Summer is just around the corner. For the many mothers I know, that fact often brings mixed emotions.
On the one hand, summer brings a slower pace for most families. Sporting activities are on break, most clubs disband and there is no homework.
The counter to the slowness of summer comes when the novelty of having a relaxed schedule wears off.
In children, that manifests itself in boredom. Translation? Drive mom crazy.
I well remember when our four children were younger. My friends with young kids and I would barely make it through May.
For those who have forgotten about May-madness, let me remind you.
Every school class usually has a field trip, and they need moms to help chaperone.
Every sports team has a banquet and/or season-ending party. Each class also has end-of-the-year parties or other special activities.
There is also field day or some other schoolwide function. And don't forget the book fair, final exams and year-end projects.
When you have more than one child, go ahead and exponentially add to the stress level during this harried month.
It is no wonder most moms just collapse when May is over and the last bell of the school year has rung.
Usually about the time it takes mom to recover is when junior and company decide they are tired of playing with each other and look to you for a plan.
As with most things when it comes to children, your plan probably won’t work exactly like you think it will. Still, it's better to have one.
First and foremost, make a plan. Sit down with your family and discuss what everybody hopes to accomplish during the summer months.
Older children may need some help outlining their goals. Without guidelines, teens might want to list “sleeping until noon” as a goal.
Even young children can have goals, such as learning to tie their shoes or ride a bike.
All children should also have reading and/or scholastic goals.
Most schools have summer reading lists, and all children should be encouraged to read above and beyond the school’s requirements.
I am not saying this will work, but you have to start somewhere.
Next, get out your family calendar and schedule any summer activities and outings you would like to do together.
Figure out a schedule that allows time for working on goals and reading, plus time for day trips.
Even if your budget is limited, there are plenty of free or low-cost things to do (see suggestions following article).
Most importantly, be candid with your children if you are trying to juggle work with home life.
Mom has to work until a certain time. If all things are done, then the reward will be to do something fun together.
If your children will be staying home alone during the day, make sure you provide a list of tasks.
This serves two purposes. It keeps them focused and less bored, plus they learn the responsibility of work before fun.
One thing my children always enjoyed when they were young is creating a special summer notebook.
Yes, our two girls loved this more than the boys. Buy a three-ring binder and let the children decorate the cover with magazine clippings and stickers.
Decide together some things your child would like to study in depth and make dividers in the notebook for these interests.
Some examples might include: insects, dinosaurs, royalty, art, music, boats, various hobbies, cooking and favorite animals.
Using the library, museums, the Internet and so on, help your children study their interests and keep track of their findings in their summer notebooks. Photos and personalized artwork also add to the activity of creating the book.
When the summer is over, your child has learned what he/she is interested in, and you have a precious keepsake.
Even with the best-laid plans, it is always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve.
Rainy days can be especially boring for children, which can lead to all sorts of bickering among siblings. One way to avoid that problem, consider creating a “project box.”
Take a medium-sized plastic tub with a lid, or use a cardboard box. In the box, collect anything that could be used for making things.
You will need the obvious sorts of things like glue, tape, paint, markers, colored pencils and paper.
Now it's time to be creative. If you sew, you probably have tons of scraps that would be perfect for the box. Also yarn, sequins, glitter, buttons, ribbon, wooden popsicle sticks, and anything else that could make great additions for creative projects.
There are plenty of craft books that offer specific suggestions for projects. Better yet, just spread some newspaper on the kitchen table, hand your kids the project box, and let them get busy.
While summer should be about slowing down and enjoying more free time, too much of a good thing equals boredom.
By creating a plan for you and your family, you will feel more organized, get more accomplished, and at the same time create family memories that will last a lifetime.
Why not spend a few minutes to make sure you are making the most of the next few months?