70 Days. My kids are out of school and home with me for 70 days. I decided that this year was going to be as unstructured as possible. So that means I did not plan to sign them up for any camps. We were just going to rock it spontaneous-like. As I sit and write this piece, we are exactly half way through this glorious, hilarious, disastrous time called summer ‘vacation.” So, I thought I would share with you 5 things that are helping me to survive and keep cool these days. I’m able to *enjoy* them as much as I possibly can with four small people who can’t seem to modulate their indoor voices.
With childcare included, free coffee, awesome classes, and a unique multi-generational experience, this is my primary go-to place for my mental and physical health this year. Whether I just got to hit the cardio machines, take a yoga or weight training class, or go on one of the weekly outdoor runs, I am always glad I make it there. The best thing is I still have the rest of the day to enjoy the kids and get them outside.
At the end of last summer, some other moms from my 3’s playgroup started a babysitting co-op. We all decided that we were more than happy to watch each other’s kids in exchange for getting some kid free time on the regular. And one of the best parts? We don’t pay anything. Each Tuesday I either get to drop off my kids at someone else’s house for three hours, or I work a shift. And now that all these kids know each other so well and we have no infants, the time goes by so fast. I get to spend at least some of the time talking to the other moms who are on duty. For us, we cap the total at one adult for every six kids.
With a summer reading challenge where they can earn “dollars” to buy “stuff”, my kids are totally into keeping up with their reading. I even came out the other day with an armload of books. I may only be on the second of the 10 books I borrowed, but for me, taking books out of the library gives me the same high as filling a cart on amazon, without the economic crash later. And as I help my girls pick out books I am transported back to my childhood with such classics as Ramona the Pest and Henry Huggins. It’s a win/win.
The Countdown Board
I use a dry erase board in my kitchen to track the events that we are all looking forward to with the number of days left until they occur. Our trip to Michigan, our friends coming to visit from Illinois, our upcoming trip to Ocean City, NJ, and lastly, the number of days until school starts up again are all tallied and tracked each day. I find that it gives them, and me, something to look forward to. It’s also a daily reminder that we have so much to be excited about.
Sheer Determination and Will
With four kids under eight, it can be easy to focus on the fighting, the yelling, and the challenges of dealing with them all day long by myself. But the truth is, I am very blessed to have them. I need to remind myself of that often. I’ve made a conscious decision to try to listen to them, look them in the eyes when they are talking. I mean really PAY ATTENTION to them and understand them. And the funny thing is, the more I do that, the more I enjoy them. And the more I enjoy them, the more I want to come up with other activities and events to make them happy. Yep. Another win/win. But that doesn’t just magically happen, at least not for me.
Summer may be half over, and it has not been easy, but I look forward to the last half. I see a lot of joy and silliness and fun in our future. I am determined to make it so.