Today is the first day of summer for me…in a matter of speaking.
Today was my daughter’s last day of preschool for the year, so “summer” in the sense of “no structure, no alone time for Mommy, no morning routine” has begun. I get to ease into full-blown summer a bit due to my two sons still having weeks left at their elementary school, but today’s end-of-the-year preschool program served as a major wakeup call for me.
I need a plan.
Other parents I’ve talked to have a plan. It comes in the form of daycare, babysitters, and more varieties of camps than I knew ever existed. Some sounded absolutely wonderful. And absolutely exorbitant. But absolutely wonderful enough to get self-conscious about my organic, camp-free summer agenda where almighty ME is fully in charge of ensuring my children’s brains and bodies don’t turn to mush.
So, back to that PLAN.
I’ve written before about locating and attending free summer concert and theater series, library story hours, vacation bible schools, museums, parks, and the local sites in order to wonderfully and frugally create an enriching, educational summer. But after getting the “what can we watch?” question from my daughter in the first 5 minutes of “summer” today, I realize we need more than that. We need structure in our day, too, not just our week.
Then I spotted our soon-to-be-unused “homework center” in the corner of our dining room. These three simple stacked horizontal files serve as their “inbox” during the school year. They know to go there, and go through, whatever’s in that box before even asking to watch TV.
What if I could create a summer “inbox”? A mix of fun, education, and structure (not too much- this is summer after all) that the kids would know to turn to first before sliding into the lazy brainlessness that all teachers bemoan every September as they are forced to repeat the last half a year just to bring the kids back up to speed.
A Library book could go in the inbox. A note card with a single question to investigate, plus a website link. Torn out or printed out worksheets. A new crossword or Soduku book. A choice of one of three activities to do outside. A journal, with one prompt question written at the top of the page. A few individual activities, then one group adventure that requires your kids to cooperate. The possibilities are endless. And easy to think up.
And, in the end, a reward…hopefully in the form of a happy mommy who has had enough moments of peace and quiet to give her children her complete attention, energy, and love.
Better than any camp.