By Katie Moosbrugger
So far, this summer has been an interesting experiment. It all started when school was coming to an end and my annual summer panic attack was starting to set in. I kept thinking to myself, “What are these kids going to do all day, every day?”
I know I’m not the only mom who has that familiar panic. Whether you work full or part-time or stay home, filling up the summer hours with productive and fun stuff is a challenge! I did not want screen time to be my babysitter, nor did I want to scramble each morning making “play dates” to keep the kids occupied. Because you know… if one child has a friend over…then the other one has to do the same. Coordinating get-togethers like that can quickly become exhausting.
Summer is meant to be fun. It’s also meant to be a healthy break from the daily grind. But could we still have fun, while taking a break, all while keeping a busy, active schedule? Sure, why not? They say kids thrive on schedules, so by golly, schedules are what we did. And we did a lot of them!
We rarely slept in, and my kids barely went to bed before 10. We packed in everything from weekend trips to daytrips; from swim team practice to baseball practice and gymnastics practice; from brunch dates to lunch dates; from overnight camps to day camps; from visits with friends to visits with family. Mondays quickly turned into Fridays, and the days quickly rapidly turned to nights. It was controlled chaos, at best.
We were so “scheduled out” that our doors did not stop revolving. They’d whirl one kid out for the day, and then whirl another one back home. The wheels of my SUV taxi were constantly rolling. We had so many things on the calendar that my kids were literally spinning in circles.
On one of our excursions, we had been in the car for a good hour when my son asked, “Wait, where are we going?” I replied, “To Atlanta, remember?” To which he exclaimed, “What? I thought we were going to DC!”
On another occasion, I got the kids up, dressed and out the door to pick up my daughter’s friend for a day camp. As we walked out the door, I told my daughter to take the middle seat so she could sit with her friend, Julianne. And she replied, “Wait, Julianne is already in the car?”
Many mornings started out with the same conversation ritual. “What are we doing today?” Followed by, “We’re doing what again?” Followed several hours later by, “Wait, where are we going now?”
It was quite comical, but thankfully, it only lasted the first part of summer. We are now in cruise control until the start of school. Our days are slowing down and are my kids are sleeping in – a lot! The hours are not filled in with so much “stuff;” instead, we’re all finding ourselves behind books and Lego sculptures. Friends come over to play, and they’re actually including the other sibling. We end our days with a family game instead of a run-down of our “To Do” list for the next day. The screens have switched back on but it’s been manageable.
Most surprisingly, my kids are finding things to do all day, every day, without a structure. And believe it or not, I’m able to get things done, myself, without the panic.
So just when I thought things had slowed down enough to talk about back-to-school shopping and our schedule for the fall and new haircuts and what we should tackle first, both my kids replied…
How about you? Have you been having a jam-packed, over-scheduled summer or a laid back, lazy one? Or is it somewhere in between? How has it been working out for you?