Monday, June 1, 2015

Summertime, and the Livin' is Easy. I Hope.

I am, at my core, a meticulous planner. I like organized. I like tidy. I like clean. I like on-time. (Early is even better.) I dabble in spontaneity, chaos, and mess from time to time, but at the end of the day - both literally and figuratively - I need to put my life back together in a way that makes sense and leaves me feeling at peace.

Because of how I function best, our summer vacations always include scheduled gym workouts, swimming lessons, library outings, and sports and dance camps. I leave time, however, usually in the afternoons, for the kids and I to try something new, repeat a favorite activity, play with friends, catch up on what needs to be done around the house, or just relax at home.

Three summers ago I created a Summer Bucket List to help us fill those summer afternoons. We accomplished two-thirds of our lengthy list, but because I'd overzealously anticipated crossing off every activity, at the end of our three-month vacation I felt like we'd "failed" summer.

Two summers ago I created a second Summer Bucket List, similar to the prior year's except shorter. This time around we made it through almost everything on our list, but when the end of August rolled around, I was too tired from all of our activities to appreciate the "victory".

Last summer I bailed on the Summer Bucket List tradition and opted to implement a Pinterest-inspired, three-pronged "Jars of Gold" system. We set up three jars - I'm Bored, I've Been Good, and We've Been Fighting - to help reinforce positive behavior and redirect negative behavior. It did NOT go well.

That brings us to this summer. No bucket list. No jars. Here's what we do have:

A calendar full of lessons and camps but that includes large blocks of free time.
No color-coding this year. I like writing
in pencil - which comes with the option
to erase - much better.
A school fun guide to keep the kids moving in the right direction on our "homework" days.
Hallie cries over homework during
the school year but loves summer
homework. Go figure.
A screen time guide to keep us from turning to television or gaming systems too often.
The kids seemed legitimately pleased when
I hung this guide on the refrigerator. I think
they appreciate its straight-forwardness. 
And a fun way for the kids to earn money to replace the goggles they already lost and/or fund their Pokemon addictions. They still complete their regular chores on Sundays, but throughout the rest of the week Will and Hallie can choose to tackle any of the extra jobs in the cup (which I update each morning depending on what needs to be done that day). If they do the job well, I pay them the predetermined amount for that job. Most jobs are worth 50 cents or $1 - the only higher payout comes with cleaning their bathroom. We'll wait and see if either is desperate enough to take on that task...

I can tell already - just two-and-a-half days into summer vacation - that both Will and Hallie like knowing what I expect of them but also appreciate having a little freedom within that larger framework…it seems they're like their mama in that way.

Let's hope this is the year we finally get it right with summer planning and spontaneity!

Tell me, how do you organize your summer? Or do you throw all schedules out the window?

1 comment:

  1. What great ideas to keep everyone organized AND having fun this summer! Love the screen time checklist. Pretty smart. I would have appreciated that as a kid too! And the money making chore jar :)

    Katie @ Cup of Tea