Even though the sun has not yet presented its summertime face to us here in the Great White North, we have been bravely acting as though we hadn’t really noticed, pretending that June is supposed to behave like March. But I have to say we have now been beat. It is snowing as I write this! No fooling. White stuff dumping out of the sky right on to my tomato plants and geraniums! If we could buy spring for any price, everyone in this town would gladly chip in. But in spite of the oobleck falling on my front porch, it is gorgeously green out here, even if it’s still a tad chilly. (See the picture at the end of this post to prove it!)
But, that is not my subject at hand. I was thinking of writing something about what to do with the kiddos now that school is out for the summer months (notice I didn’t actually call it summer….just those months we refer to as the summer months).
I remember the comments I used to get even at the grocery store check out. “Oh aren’t you just dreading summer with the kids home from school?” What a terrible outlook. I was, in fact, looking forward to the lazy summer days.
Some moms (sorry, but I know this is true) make their own children dread summer vacation by piling on the duties, rules, and schedules. What a drag. How much better to make summer a real pleasure rather than drudgery. Still, there have to be some guidelines and goals, right? Well here are a few suggestions in case you were needing some.
Let the first week be sleep-in week while the kids (and you) adjust to no school. Take it easy. Make them a festive breakfast. Or better yet, let them do the cooking. Celebrate the completion of another year of school. Let them stay in their pajamas all morning if they want to. Okay, okay, I see you bristling. Letting the kids slum around will get on your nerves. I agree. But just for the first few days of summer, it wouldn’t hurt would it?
Certainly, once you are past that first week, you have to have a plan. Summer is not the time to lurch into laziness and boredom. So find them age-appropriate activities that will stimulate, refresh, and stretch them. Fruitfulness always keeps the spirits up. I suggest you work with these basic categories: household duties, money-making activities, creative opportunities, plain old fun stuff, and service.
First off, the household duties. Every kid needs some chores. It builds character, yes, but it also makes the kids feel trusted when they are given responsibility. Find things they will look on as “get to do” rather than “must do.” If you are wise about the timing, this is pretty simple. If you are slamming teenagers with a bunch of chores when they have never even been required to make their beds, it’s not going to go over well. It may be too late to start. But if you are bestowing little chores on little kids who rise up to the occasion with delight, you’ve nailed it, and you can continue to add more as they mature.
Finding some jobs that will pay is a great way to fill up the summer and give your kids the bonus of having some money to manage. But you don’t want the work to be a burden to them. If your daughter really doesn’t want to babysit for that family with the badly behaved kids, don’t make her do it. Protect her from the kinds of jobs that she won’t enjoy. If your son is a lazy bum, you may need to insist on him taking on some lawn mowing jobs, but, hopefully, he has the incentive to make some money. Manage this wisely and work with the grain. What are your kids desires and talents? Encourage them in those and look for opportunities that will pay.
What do I mean by creative opportunities? Sewing or cooking classes, tennis or horse-back riding lessons, swimming or sculpting. Whatever it is, expose your kids to as many things as you can. Get them on the softball or baseball teams if they want to. Maybe you need to volunteer to coach. Help them past their reluctance so they can find confidence in being on a team. It’s a great opportunity to grow and have fun. Other creative opportunities would be working with Dad in the shop or on the car, painting some furniture or hanging wall paper.
Make sure they have some fun reading for the summer that is a real break from the school work. Maybe it’s a stack of P.G. Wodehouse from the library, or maybe it’s King Solomon’s Mines or (better yet) 100 Cupboards. Get them going on some fun reads.
Finally, give your kids opportunity to serve others without pay. Maybe your girls can make some cookies or a meal for a family with a new baby. Or you can visit a widow while your sons mow her lawn. Not all babysitting should have a price tag; there are young families who can’t afford a babysitter but who could really use a night out. Or a busy mother of little ones could use some help around the house. But lead your kids in this, don’t send them in your stead. Don’t expect things of them you wouldn’t do. Hospitality is a way of serving, so include your kids in this. Invite people they will enjoy, and teach them how to be good hosts.
Well the snow is sticking here. I kid you not. I suggest we crank on the Christmas music and make some ornaments. No sense being scrooges about it. I did just bring in my little pots of rosemary and basil. I don’t think they care for the snow. Here is the promised picture taken mere minutes ago! And Merry Summer and Happy June to you all!