When I made the leap to stay home full-time with my children in January, summer was the furthest thing from my mind. I was focused on adjusting to my new life with Alyssa while Drew was in school.
But as summer moved closer and closer, my anxiety level grew and grew. I had developed a good schedule with Alyssa, and I was nervous about having Drew home with me all day, too. Frankly, my toughest moments were when both kids were home. Drew, having become accustomed to being stimulated all day at school, was bored at home, refusing to occupy himself. Normally that translated to aggravating his sister and to whining constantly at me.
How was I going to manage all summer with them both?
Realizing that when God called me to stay home, he intended to equip me for the task, I laid it out to him. I asked him for wisdom, for guidance, even in the small things. How incredibly freeing that was!
About that time I watched a Lysa TerKeurst video where she described how sometimes God uses nature to speak to us. Since I’ve finally started to open my eyes to nature, I understood what she meant. With that in mind, I started surveying how God has created order in His world.
I took a look at the weather and the seasons. There’s an order to it. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. But it’s not SO predictable that we can be sure that, for instance, there will never be a frost in May (all you gardeners in Arkansas will get that). It’s a routine, not a fixated schedule. That leaves room for flexibility, for keeping us on our toes, for spontaneity.
How could that translate to how I would manage my summer with the kids at home?
1. I need a set schedule.
2. It needs to be flexible.
Drew in particular thrives on schedules (wonder where he got that from?). But, my schedule doesn’t need to be rigid. It needs to be able to adapt to changes, to weather, to playdates, to activities.
With that in mind, I created the following schedule. If you’re an organized person by nature, you find yourself emailing me for the chart. If you’re not an organized person, you will probably find yourself laughing.
This is an example of our day if we’re home. I told Drew I would make every effort to schedule at least one playdate and one special activity each week. The routine would be adjusted during these times.
So, armed with the schedule, I wanted to specify the chores for which each child would be responsible (if you recall, the earlier chore chart did so well, I adjusted it for the summer). This way they would know what to expect and what was expected of them.
And finally, I created a calendar so Drew would be able to keep up with the days and know when he had activities, like Vacation Bible School.
I know I’m only on Day 4, but I’ve been surprised at how well this has worked out. Drew doesn’t balk when I tell him it’s time to do chores because I walk him over to the schedule and he sees it’s time. He checks them off as he goes. (Maybe he gets his love for to-do lists from me, too?)
I have done away with the earning video game time this summer like we do in the school year and instead I allow him time during our “rest time” in the afternoons as long as all of his chores are completed. He isn’t allowed to play video or computer games any other time except for special circumstances, and that’s worked out so far.
I’ll tell you, one of the areas that has been better than I ever could have anticipated was “reading time.” I thought I’d have to fight Drew to get him to sit still to do reading time, but it has been the exact opposite. We have family reading time before rest time, and each child picks out 1-2 books that we read together. Then as I’m putting Alyssa down for nap, Drew is required to have personal reading time. He gets to pick out the books and I tell him how long he has to read. This first week I’m doing 20 minutes, but I plan on increasing it in the next few weeks gradually to 30 minutes. Only after that reading time is he allowed to play his video games.
I’m sure every household has their own summer routine, and I’m only sharing mine because it’s what I’ve come up with for my children. I know I will have to make adjustments as we go, but so far both kids have taken to the routine well.
We’ll see if I still have my sanity come the end of July. 🙂