Here's what I'm looking forward to the most:
- Waking up without an alarm clock.
- Visiting our families in Wisconsin and Illinois.
- Trying new things. Both kids will start their first "jobs" (Will helping train little soccer players and Hallie helping train little dancers); Will plans to attend Lone Star Leadership Academy camp in Houston and a University of Wisconsin soccer camp in Madison, take two summer school classes, and start training for middle school cross country; and Hallie plans to attend her first true ballet intensive as well as her first musical theatre camp.
- Doing our favorite things. Swimming, boating, watching movies, reading books, bowling, playing miniature golf, roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over the campfire, eating salty popcorn and drinking lukewarm beer at the Union, shopping at farmers markets, chasing the ice cream truck, listening to live music, and going on date nights.
- Visiting our newly remodeled public library.
- And last but not least, taking advantage of our temporarily less-crowded college town: available tables at my favorite coffee shops, shorter waits at our favorite restaurants, plentiful parking, and considerably less traffic.
And here's what I'm looking forward to the least:
- The heat.
Some things never change.
A few years ago I wrote an article about how to survive - and thrive while spending - summer vacation with young children. Reviewing this list a few times throughout May, June, and July helps me create and (aids in my attempts to) maintain a household/family balance between structure and pandemonium, activity and boredom, together and alone, movement and rest, responsibility and freedom. In case it might help you do the same, I thought I'd share a portion of the article here.
- Create a schedule. The summer schedule needn’t be as rigid as the school year schedule, but kids thrive when their days have at least some semblance of order to them. Approximate wake-up, bed, and meal times as well as regular lessons, classes, or camps will provide predictability, stability, and comfort.
- Create a calendar. Like the summer schedule, the summer calendar can be looser than the school year calendar. But creating a physical calendar on which each day’s plans have been noted is worth the time…and will prevent you having to field 100+ “what are we doing today?” questions before you’ve finished your first cup of coffee.
- Block off down time. After adding swimming lessons, art classes, and sports camps to the calendar, take note of where you have blocks of free time and designate them as just that – free time. Reserve a couple of mornings, afternoons, or even days each week for spontaneous fun: family day trips, outings to the movie theatre or swimming pool, or even just staying home and letting the kids run wild in the backyard.
- Give them jobs. When the kids spend more time at home, they should have more responsibilities at home. Perhaps they take on an extra chore or two, or if they’re a little older, they can care for younger siblings or help out with meal planning and preparation.
- Keep them on track academically. Do your future self a favor and make sure your kids stay on track academically with some kind of bridge book and daily quiet reading time. When fall rolls around and you’re back to helping with homework and projects, you’ll be glad your kids won’t need to relearn anything from the previous year. And quiet reading time is good for everyone’s sanity.
- Bend the rules. On occasion, throw those schedules and calendars and responsibilities out the window. Skip the chores and head to the beach. Bail on the academic work and watch cartoons. Ditch dinner at the kitchen table and have an outdoor picnic or a picnic on the living room rug.
- Take time for yourself. Whether a quiet morning at the coffee shop, lunch with friends, or even a weekend away, periodically step away from the kids and spend some time alone or with those in your life who rejuvenate and energize you. Mama Bears can’t keep everyone and everything else running smoothly if they haven’t first shown themselves a little love.
Next week I'll be back to share my alternative to a summer bucket list...until then, enjoy your summer!