Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Can't Wait for School to Start?

I didn't always love my mother. At times, I think I truly hated her. Specifically, I remember such hatred on summer mornings, around 9:30am, when I, a teenager needing sleep, would be awakened by the loud, "Good Morning, Mary Sunshine! Time to Rise and Shine!" Yes, that's how Mom woke us up every day, and although she was cheerful, her audience was not.

I just. Wanted. Sleep!!

But no, Mom didn't have nine kids for nothing; there was work to do around the C household, and we were there to do it. I often made accustatory statements about her only having kids so she could have slaves. I don't remember her reply, but I do remember looking forward to having my own slaves one day, and now look; success! Tomorrow is the first day of our summer vacation, and I'll give you a moment to ponder what my kids will be doing at 9:30am.

Go ahead; think on it.

My kids will both be sleeping at 9:30am tomorrow, and probably 10:30am!!!! Cuz that's just how I roll. Getting enough rest for their adolescent brains is their only job on summer mornings.

That is, until they wake up. I do allow them to sleep in (but no later than 11:00am). I have a selfish reason. It's not because I want Mr.4444 to be able to work in his office without noisy kids. It's because I simply love the peace of a summer morning; no TV on, no bickering. I love to sit on the deck with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast and maybe the newspaper, birds greeting each other in a friendly, woodland-alarm-clock sort of way.

That said, when the kids get up, there will be a routine. Yes, even in summer. Kids like routine. That's why they drive their parents crazy during summer vacation. Trust me; set up a daily routine, with structure (just like at school), and they will thrive in it. For example, my kids sit down with me and work out when/how they want to fit the following into their schedules (each types up a checklist of his/her daily to-do's and hangs it on the inside of a cupboard door):

*1-2 chores every day (bathrooms, litter, lawn-mowing, bedroom cleaning, window washing, laundry folding, dishwasher loading/unloading, etc.)

*Academic time (15-20 minutes) every other day (every day when they were younger.) This includes a page of math, a paragraph written or maybe just flashcards. (They read for pleasure all the time, so we don't schedule that.)

Until these are finished, there are no screens on (T.V., computer, Guitar Hero, etc.) And here's where I'm a BAD mom; they are allowed 3 hours of "screens" per day during summer months.

This summer, I think Kendall will be starting a blog for her writing assignments. I'll probably not push Kyle on the schoolwork this summer; he has a rigorous enough schedule during the schoolyear and needs this break. Kendall, however, is already asking me if we can pick up one of those workbooks for her to work on.

My point is that kids like checklists. They like accomplishing things. They like structure and predictability. Provide these things for kids in the summer months, and you will have a happier family. You child hates school? All the more reason to keep their brains from turning to mush over the summer. Adjust the amount to suit your child, but giving them at least something to work on will help them come fall.

If necessary, schedule in some time for just you and your child. Got three kids? Put time for each one on their to-do lists. Even if it's just to play catch for 15 minutes or have a tea party, I guarantee you, when they know they are going to have you to themselves (just you and them), they are going to calm down and stop getting attention the best way they know how; annoying their siblings (and you.)

Try it. It can't hurt. You might find some summertime sanity :)

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