Hi. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to survive this summer and how my kids are going to survive this summer and how, optimally, hopefully, we’ll do it with a bit of grace and perhaps even some pizazz. So. To that end I’ve been trying to tackle the work-play rhythm I mentioned in my last post, and I’ve come to a few ideas (and I’d love to hear yours on this topic too!)
1.Every day needs to have a set activity that we do some variation of each week.
I’ve settled on some basic activities that I’ll be sharing more about here throughout the summer. They basically cover all the bases from art to pre-literacy and number activities, crafts, and gross motor skill play. I really like (at least in theory) the idea of returning to an activity and building on it from week to week, and I know from experience that little ones like routine far more than adults think they do.
My goal for these activities is to structure a guided activity time that then leads into independent play (so that I can also focus on independent tasks!) My 5 year old is really into figuring out how things work; designing things; treasure hunts; and taking things apart—so there will be a fair amount of these elements in every project. My 16 month old is all about doing everything his brother does, which creates particular challenges around modifying activities, and making sure both boys have their “own” stuff…and can extend it organically into the ways that they play when Mommy is not involved.
2.Each day also needs some predictable chores/tasks that occupy my 5 year old in a meaningful way.
This is so simple really: we’re all a part of our household, and we all pitch in. Bean, my 5 year old, is definitely happiest when he is being helpful and productive and is just part of the daily ebb and flow of tasks around the house–and we involve him in nearly everything we do: from folding laundry (he does the napkins and dishtowels) to making dinner (he’s a pro veggie chopper).
For the summer he’s acquired two specific jobs however, that are his to do each day in the morning: unloading the dishwasher & putting away the dishes, and letting our chickens out and feeding them. The dishes take him a good twenty minutes to do (he needs to bring over one of the kitchen counter stools so that he can reach the cabinets) and though there was some initial grumbling, with each consecutive day the grumbling has become less and today I caught him singing a little song as he happily stacked plates and bowls.
The best part: an empty dishwasher to be reloaded after breakfast!
3.I need to be really intentional about the focus of my time–trying to do too many things at once only results in a frustrated mama and frustrated kids.
This is a challenge for me because I work (mostly) from home and am inclined to try to cross something off my project list whenever I can. With meaningful activities and projects and a basic rhythm for the day, I am able to be fairly productive: I get writing done, and painting (some days) and my husband and I juggle hours to give each other uninterrupted work times. But then I often push it—trying, for example, to finish a project up when lunch needs to get made, or when one or the other boy clearly needs some attention…and oh, disaster.
This is when the whining kicks in and the fits get thrown. Am definitely working on this. Big time.
4.A daily rhythm around snack and mealtimes really helps all of us.
This is my Achilles heel. I am miserable at remembering to eat, let alone planning snacks etc, for my kids. I get involved in a project and flat out forget to look at the clock. (It happened today and turned a perfectly fun project into a rather miserable one because everyone got grouchy.)
I’d love to hear: what are some of your summertime routines? What has worked? What hasn’t?