And, just like that, another school year is over. How does the time go by so quickly? It seems like just yesterday we were meeting their teachers, and I don’t care to admit that in about 9 weeks we will be doing it all again. I love having my kids home with me, but the sibling squabbling and “boredom” can become a frustration. This year I am making some changes, and being a bit stricter than in the past. I pray that I have the fortitude to stick with it! I will share these with you in hopes that it will help you maintain your sanity this summer.
- ONE HOUR OUTSIDE TIME!!! – They can choose the activity, but the time is non-negotiable…..except for when it rains….which has been a lot lately! My kids both play soccer and we have a big goal in the yard, so they often practice together. Playing catch is another favorite activity. When I am able to be outside, they can ride their bikes. My daughter loves using sidewalk chalk. We have the occasional water gun or balloon fight when we need to cool off. I miss the days of the sprinkler, but at 10 and 13 they aren’t interested in that anymore. If we go to a nature park, the playground, the zoo, or anywhere outside, that time counts. I want them to get a daily dose of good old Vitamin D from the sunshine (with sunscreen when needed of course). We often do this in the morning when it is cooler.
- CHORES – During the school year I do not ask them to help out very much, as they are at school all day and often have activities at night. I am home a large percentage of the time, so it is “my job” to keep the house running. They are required to put away their laundry and help with the dishes at a minimum. This summer I plan to teach them how to do other tasks. My son is 13 years old, so I think it is time that he learn how to do all of his own laundry. My daughter is 10, so I plan to have her spend even more time with me in the kitchen. Our son is also going to do the mowing consistently. Before I know it they will be out on their own and they need to be self-sufficient. Summer is a great time to take advantage of teaching them new skills.
- READING – This has always been a part of our summer routine! However, this year I am monitoring more than usual. A minimum of ONE HOUR of reading must occur each day. They may do it all at once or split it up during the day. I always suggest they save some reading for bedtime to help them calm down to sleep. We will make frequent trips to the library and participate in the reading program. This year I am introducing them to more “classics”, as they tend to read more current books. They don’t do the book studies at school as often as I did. My kids have wanted to do independent reading for a while now, but I am hoping that we will find time to read together also. Even though they are older I think we are going to get out the old “Hurlbut’s Stories of the Bible” and do some refresher reading and discussion.
- ACADEMICS – I always struggle with this one, especially with my teaching experience. I know they need a “brain break”, but they also don’t need to check out. I plan to get out the occasional math or writing activity to engage their brain (and also provide some quiet time). My goal is to do 1-2 science (STEM) activities together each week. There are so many cool ideas on Pinterest. I have a whole board dedicated to STEM! We can make learning hands on, while also keeping their fine motor skills in tact with writing tasks. My son still needs to work on cursive handwriting, since they only touched on it briefly. He loves history and so many documents are written in cursive that he has trouble reading them. I also want him to be able to actually “sign” his name!
- FAMILY TIME – We usually get a lot of this during our fun vacations! When we get home we appreciate a bit of solitude after so much togetherness, yet we still want to enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes this means watching TV or a movie, taking a walk, riding bikes, hiking, getting ice cream, a fun activity (bowling, museum, etc), playing games, and more. We don’t always get to eat dinner together because we sometimes end up in different places, but we try to as much as possible. My husband and son go fishing and we girls are left to fend for ourselves…..eating out and shopping it is! Our camping provides ample quality family time, which I talked about in this post.
My hope in making these changes is to limit our screen time. It’s so easy to just let the devices “babysit” them, but there aren’t many benefits to that. I do allow them to play games, watch YouTube videos (monitored), or watch a show. They are allowed an hour of free screen time each day, with additional time if granted by parents. They enjoy playing on the Xbox or Wii together, and I don’t always include that in screen time. It’s in the living room and provides bonding time for them. There isn’t much that 13 year old boy and a 10 year old girl have in common, so they enjoy that. It’s nice when they aren’t doing that squabbling I spoke of earlier.
Here’s to a safe and fun summer for everyone!!!