Tuesday, June 03, 2014

So Now That It's Summer, I Have a Plan

Okay, ya'll (that's how we say it in the south), summertime is upon us!  And as much as I love the break from hurried mornings and cram-packed afternoons, let's be real about what an 11 week school break also means.

Summer means having around 14 hours (depending on the ages and internal alarm clocks of your kids) of dead air.  There will be no other entertainment or adult supervision but us


I make no concrete commitments during summer time, but this is at least the third summer I've created a flexible family calendar of events/themes.  The point is to give me a goal every day to play with my kids.  To be intentional.  Even for an hour.  
Because it's summer!  
Because there will still be cleaning and errands but only one summer a year to make moments together. 
Because without some sort of plan, summer break can lead to CHAOS!

Granted, it's not a fool proof plan.  Kids get sick.  Friends cancel. Sometimes, all we want to do is live in our pjs. The goal is not to stress over details here.  Some weeks I have a field trip on the calendar and other days I just wing it.  The great thing about this plan is that it can be tweaked as needed.  With families, flexibility is key.  
This is my effort to beat the inevitable boredom and schedule some organized fun.  While some of my friends spend straight days at the pool, I need a little variety (and shade)!  That's why I came up with this little summer plan:

  • For craft projects, play doh, finger-painting, puppet shows, movie making, baking, or whatever you love to do or love to put off until inspiration strikes.  Check Pinterest!  Look at what you already have around you.  Sometimes, it's just fun to make something.  For this one day, let them make a mess.  It'll clean up.
  • To kick off our week (even while nursing a sick 3-year-old back to health) we glued miscellaneous beads on small canvas squares- because we already had all the supplies on hand! Easy.
  • Time to get out of the house for the morning!  Find a park, a pool, a museum, a trail...anything.  It's about exploring and getting the wiggles out :-)  And if you go before it gets so hot you can't breathe, you have the rest of the day to get things done around the house while your kids veg out on the couch.  You're welcome.
  • Pool, sprinkler, water guns, slip-n-slide, beach.  The end.
  • For trips to the library, math activities, writing stories and reading them.  This is a day for using our brains, because learning can be fun outside of school when you find things you're interested in!
  • Just in case you can't organize sleepovers and play dates on other days of the week, this one is just for that!  One day a week, I make a point to invite someone over for a visit or call my kids' friends to meet up. 
  • My weekends are for family.  They're for sleeping in and doing things together.  I don't like to map out every minute of our time.  I love both spontaneity and rest, so these are my general goals for Saturday and Sunday.  A last-minute cookout or watching the kids play from the front porch.  It doesn't matter.
It's our first official week of summer, and my kids have already been asking days in advance what we're going to do.  They know that they have something to look forward to each day, which is great. So then later, when they complain about not having anything to do (and they will), I can point to my calendar and say, "Well, I did this for you already.  You are responsible for your own fun now.  Get creative!" After all, a little boredom is the starting place for some of the best ideas, right? I'm off the hook!

How do you spend your summer?

You can find me on instagram and share your summer adventures with hashtags  #themomseason #makesomethingmonday #takeatriptuesday #waterfunwednesday #thinkathoughtthursday #findafriendfriday

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Don't Wait Until Next Mother's Day

This past weekend may have been the best Mother's Day ever.  It was just perfect (Thank you, Husband).  Rest, attention, family and friends were just the cure for my busy season.  I felt so taken care of and SEEN!  It was all the gift I needed.

But Mother's Day only happens once a year.  What about the other 364 days on the calendar?  That's a long time to wait for our people to celebrate this work and give us a day off!

Don't wait until next year, moms!  Make a point to give yourself breaks, as needed. It doesn't have to be a national holiday to establish periods of rest whenever the stress is adding up.

In the beginning of my motherhood, I never allowed myself to wind down.  I insisted that I could handle it and tried to muster through the workload. I felt guilty for going away for a night or a weekend and leaving my duties behind.  Handing the load over to anybody else just worried me.

Many meltdowns later, however, I learned that making time to just BE, is not a sign of weakness as a mom.  Resting helps us build up strength to keep going.  Taking care of yourself is your responsibility, and if you are finding yourself more and more edgy and impatient, that may be a sign that you haven't let yourself catch up mentally, spiritually, or physically to the busyness around you.

In Genesis, God observed his work and said, "It is good." Then, he rested.  If God thought it was important to establish time to "be," why don't we?

Moms, look around. See what you have done.  Note the clean kitchen counter or the packed school lunches.  Notice the kids' clothes that fit and the stocked refrigerator.  You did all of that!  Your family is taken care of. It's good! 

At some point, though, we have to let things wait until the next work day.  There will always be laundry to sort, wash, fold, or put away.  There will always be a dirty dish in the sink.  There will always be a paper to sign, a floor to sweep, or a pile to organize.  There is always work!  Let's set some limits on how much we take on and when it's quitting time.  Because when the alarm goes off (or the baby cries), it'll be time to work again.

Don't expect someone else to send you on a vacation!  They're not often going to remind you that you haven't eaten lunch or put your feet up for fifteen minutes!  Generally, Mommy's midday meal is hit or miss around here.  Breaks aren't scheduled for me at all- unless you count bedtime, which doesn't always work out either...so we have to decide when to make moments for ourselves.

Rest is your choice. You can take a power nap or sit on the front porch to watch the kids play.  It doesn't matter.

God wants us to "be still."  Quiet yourself to the whirling world outside and shut out the noise. Don't apologize for sitting down to read a book or renting a sappy movie now and then.  Make a morning coffee date just for the heck of it.  

Whenever I have forced myself to get away for a bit, I have returned to my family more prepared to jump in and meet demands with renewed energy.  Because I've slowed down and separated myself from what can be regularly chaotic, I'm able to pick it back up with a little more perspective and patience. It is good.

So, have a little Mother's Day every day! You don't have to wait for someone else to give you permission. God has given us grace and freedom to find the joy in motherhood.  Rest in His care and see what He sees- a job well done.