If you’re anything like me, you start to get a little nervous as the school year winds down. Although I love the idea of carefree, relaxed days of summer break, too often the end of the day comes and I feel like it was a parade of chaos, followed by mess, followed by unproductivity, which leads to late dinners, missed naps, and exhaustion! There is a lot of fun to be had along the way (mostly by the kids), but waking up every morning and resolving to simply “go with the flow” each day does not work well for me! So this year, I decided to go into summer break with a better plan: a rough guideline for each day so that we get to experience a lot of fun activities, but still maintain a little structure. Then I’ll let you know how our days have really been going!
So first, we made our summer bucket list. Yes, I know, everyone’s doing that all over pinterest and they are beautiful, filled with coordinating designs and check boxes.
Exhibit A (from DIY Home Sweet Home):
Exhibit B (from Love Bakes Good Cakes):
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE these printables; I really do. I highly recommend that you click on the links and print them off if they will be helpful to you. They are beautifully designed and have lots of great ideas for summer activities. Plus, how gorgeous is the second one with all the fun fonts and colors?
When confronted with such a perfect list that promises a summer of fun family bonding, I am flooded with feelings of pressure, inadequacy, and guilt. I feel like there is NO WAY I can check all of those boxes, but I still feel like I should be because that’s what so-and-so is doing, and look at how much fun they’re having in their facebook/instagram/pinterest posts, and I’m that lame Mom who can only handle one big activity with the kids each day (which may be simply a trip to the local playground) and then likes to stay in the house the rest of the day – but not doing fun, interactive crafts or educational experiments, but just telling my kids to go play so I can get some stuff done!!!! There’s a nice window into my thoughts for you – I probably should have warned you first. Can anybody else identify with those feelings? I just need to keep reminding myself that even if my life isn’t pinterest-worthy, it’s still meaningful and perfect for us!
So back to that bucket list – our family sat down together and threw out ideas of fun things we would like to do this summer. Some things we couldn’t even consider, (one of the kids said “Disney World,”) but we were able to make a solid wish list of things we would like to do. These included the zoo, aquarium, museums, parks, pools, splash pads, movie nights, picnics, a lemonade stand, walking around the Disney store, doing Mad Libs, going to the Lego store, going fishing, taking a trip to the beach for the day, and going on a hike. From there, I did a little research on prices and distance and we narrowed the list further.
Then I had to turn my attention to our daily routine. There are certain non-negotiables that must be done every morning. These are the things that, if neglected, will make us starve, smell, and get rotten teeth. I had grand plans for involving the kids in morning chores too but am still working on that. It seems like it’s all I can do just to get them to clean up their clothes and toys from the various places they have been scattered around the house! They do help water the garden, and the older kids love dusting, so that’s a start.
I envisioned that we would leave the house by 9, (with snacks, water, and lunches packed), for a park, pool, museum, or other activity. Then we would spend all morning out having an adventure, coming home between 1 and 2 so Henry could have a nap. While Henry napped, the kids could spend 30 minute increments doing different activities like their Summer Bridge Workbooks, Lego, computer time, playing quietly, reading, or watching TV. Then they could help me prepare dinner (more family bonding!!), David would get home, and we would sit all together and discuss the highlights of our day while eating a nutritious meal.
That sounded great to me – not quite a fancy summer routine, and not very detailed, but it has a nice balance of activity and rest. So the big question – has it worked?? Well, sort of. As I said, I’m still working at getting the kids involved with chores (it seems like more work for me at first), and they have not helped me make dinner once (my choice, not theirs), but we have done some really fun things together. We have been swimming with friends, gone to a splash pad, visited the nature museum, and played at a few parks. We have also spent a lot of unstructured time in the house. BUT – I sometimes feel a lot of guilt over this, because that time feels SO unproductive! And then I feel like a bad Mom for not having planned great activities for them. Then I remember this blog post (“What Would My Mom Do? Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside”) that I read last year by Jen Hatmaker, and I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER. She is hilarious, by the way, and one of those women who voices what we are all thinking but don’t want to say out loud!
As Jen says, making sure my kids know that they are loved by God and by me is my top priority. They don’t need a pristine house to feel loved. They don’t need alphabetized, color coded daily learning activities to feel loved. They don’t need an intricate craft (that is also educational) to feel loved. They don’t need me to be engaged with them every second to feel loved! Aaaaaaah, reminding myself of those things makes me feel so much better. I know I love my children SO MUCH and I don’t need to show them my love the same way other moms do. I have so much respect and admiration for the moms that do all of those amazing things with their children!! But I need to remember that not every mom sits for hours with their kids reassembling broken Lego sets like I did last week. Or snuggle and read together on a regular basis. Or pray every night before bed with their kids to thank God for the amazing day. Or raise a tadpole with them because they really, really, really, really, wanted to! It’s easy for me to overlook the things I do that show my children my love because it’s not what someone else does. We’ve all heard the phrase:
Comparison is the thief of joy
I’m working on reminding myself of that every day.
How about you? Do you find yourself getting stuck in a rut of comparing your average days with the perfection on pinterest? Have you made any kind of summer bucket list or routine? I would love to hear about it!