For the first time since they were born, my children are home for the summer.
Every other summer has been spent in day care, and I’ve always regretted that they never knew the joy of sleeping in until whenever and letting the sun warm your face to wake you up.
Until now. Our oldest is in middle school and her sister is home with her for company. For the first time, they have a summer without constant structure and supervision.
Midway through summer vacation, there have been no major disputes, no damage to home and hearth and no cries of boredom.
How’d we do it?
First, we set some rules for their safety and protection as well as keeping order. It was crystal clear what was allowed and what was forbidden (such as no use of the toaster or stove unless Dad was in his office at home.) They also had specific tasks to be done each day, ranging from cleaning their rooms to practicing their musical instruments. The house was to be in the same condition when I returned as I left it each day.
Next, we found them things to do. We went on a shopping spree to buy various crafts and activities they could choose to do whenever they want. We didn’t spend much but got a lot of tools for spontaneous summer fun, like a length of rope for jumping and sidewalk chalk. We checked out library books on subjects they wanted to explore and created a top 10 list of things to do. They are in control of what they do and when they do it.
And, we found people for them to do things with. Playdates are an obvious choice. We also have a high school friend come over for a while each day to hang out and teach them new skills (they’re learning conversational German and water polo basics without the aid of a swimming pool!)
We’re all going to be sad to see summer come to an end. I come to a house that’s cleaner some nights than when I left it in the morning. And kids who are relaxed and happy and feel a sense of independence they’ve never had before.
And that’s what summer should be all about. Having the freedom to play and have fun and just be.
Beth Dornan is a corporate blogger who recently began her own blog at http://hodgepodge.posterous.com She’s a Mom to two tween girls. Beth loves food and cooking, supporting local businesses and charities, and a big advocate of kindness. (My kind of girl!)
Photo Credit: Blue door on white wall