Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Our Summer Manifesto

I know I'm late to the party since summer is already halfway through. I just looked at a calendar and the kids return to school in less than six weeks. Since we're still at the height of summer, I have a mix of sadness wanting to hold on to the long days of summer and rejoicing that it's almost done and school and schedules will return soon.

But until then, this is a peek into what summers around here look like; our summer manifesto of sorts.

These kids are not the boss of me.
As a WAHM, the summers are particularly tricky. The dental assistant cleaning my teeth yesterday asked me if I work full time. This is always such a weird question for me. How do I answer how many hours a week I work when it's in the midst of parenting and laundry and conference calls and babies being born over the weekend? My guess: about 30-35ish. Swinging this over the summer is important because I want to be available to my kids and to my adoptive families I work with. For our family, the best fit is that Isabelle and Jackson go to a summer camp three days a week and the other two days are "mommy days." We feel like we get the best of both worlds: kids with a summer full of field trips and friends at summer camp and slow and lazy days spent with mom at home. Most importantly, I feel like this arrangement allows me to truly be available to my kids those two days at home and we're not interrupted by my work. This frees me from my job and my kids creating my schedule and still means that Jamy and I get to decide what works best for our home.

Our summer activities will never be Pinterest worthy.
I will not be Googling "200 free summer activities," or "29 Dollar Store Finds That Will Keep Your Kids Busy All Summer." I'm now a more seasoned mom and know this is complete craziness. Unless the Dollar Store now carries a Nintendo DS (which Jackson would be more than happy to play all summer) and the free activities last more than approximately 5 minutes each, these are all lies. The lists include things like "create a chore chart," "make cereal jewelry," and "watch birds." Now if you have children who would enjoy these activities (or have the stamina to create no less than 863 five minute activities throughout the day), bless you. But if you're like me, our summer looks more like heading to the pool (thank you city of Overland Park for your pool pass), reading in the hammock, and even (gasp!) cartoons in the morning.

Declarations of "I'm Bored!" are not allowed.
I refuse to be a cruise ship activities director. I know plenty of mamas who take on this summer title with great honor, but I just can't do it. I can even go old school on my kids and declare right back that if they're bored I can give them chores to do around the house. The wonderful part of summer is allowing my kids space to actually just be. The slower pace allows them to take time to dive into their favorite book series, create stories of their own, pretend with friends, and play for hours in the cul-de-sac. We can stay at the pool all afternoon, read through The Chronicles of Narnia in the backyard, and sleep in. The rest of the year is packed with school and sports and after school activities. I love this season to find a more restful rhythm for our family.

Grace will be given and memories will be made.
All of this extra time also gives us extra "togetherness." Can we all just acknowledge that sometimes togetherness can be a bit much? I can't tell you how many times I've needed to act as a referee and separate siblings, and try to figure out "who started it." There has been much talk about attitudes, making healthy choices, and having a happy heart. But extra togetherness is also a gift We've had friends over every weekend for long dinners and conversations under the patio lights. Last night we all headed to the pool with friends and I loved reading poolside and watching Jamy throw kids into the water. Last weekend we spontaneously bought a trampoline for the kids and Jamy and I ended up putting it together in the middle of the night to beat a storm that was brewing.  We laughed as we put the crazy thing together in the dark, got to jump on it before the kids did, and laid down to look at the stars. The next morning our bodies were achy and tired but it was worth the surprise for the kids and the memories we made together. 

So here's to long days that smell like sunshine and chlorine and nights lit by patio lights, slowing down, and creating memories. Here's to making the most of what's left of summer.

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