This is a repeat post, but at this time of year we start thinking of summer. The kids have a fantastic program at their school that I decline with a smile every year. One of their teachers approached me the other day and before she even asked, she said, “Oh right, you’re beach people.” Yes, we’re beach people. We moved here four summers ago and every spring I declare a ban on most summer activities because we live too close to the beach not to take advantage every day. So sure, they’ll miss a camp or field trip here and there. But when they’re bigger, I hope they thank me for forcing them in the ocean. I’ve never met an adult who regrets spending summers in the sand. But just because I’m a lazy beach girl, doesn’t mean lazy totally flies with three young kids. So what’s a “Beach Person” to do? Find out.
I am a summer nut. I love everything about this time of year including the sometimes oppressive heat. When the temperatures rise and the homework starts to dwindle, I am reminded how grateful I am that I have the luxury of a flexible job that I can work around my life as a mom. As my kids have gotten older, they have asked to join some activities over the summer, but for the most part we severely limit what we have to do so that we can maximize the time spent doing nothing. I am pretty regimented during the school year but when this family hits June, we all demonstrate our glee over lazy summer days and long summer nights.
I’m not sure how old my kids were when I realized I could not spend two and a half months flying by the seat of my pants. As much as I wished for no-schedule-summers, it didn’t take long for me to realize that my crazy old colleague was pretty spot on when she told me about my then second graders, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.”
Yes, my kids are creative. Yes, they are pretty good at occupying themselves. But what I’ve learned is that everyone, including me, needs some direction or the house might burn down (or at least be overtaken by dirty dishes and laundry). So I created what I call the Un-Schedule. I plan out quadrants of time during the day that keep us focused on moving forward. Now, don’t get me wrong, we are not over-scheduled as some of these quadrants call simply for “playing”. There is still plenty of freedom for all of us. What I do is keep our days predictable, even if that means predictably lazy.
They sleep as late as they want but we still aim for a bedtime which means they mostly get up at the same time as each other so we’re not waiting around for one kid. Our bedtime is later than our school year bedtime and they can read in their rooms longer, but my kids have an end of the day they can count on. We also keep our meal schedule. Some dinners and lunches might happen on the beach, but I make sure we all stop at the same time to partake. There are no drive by meals in the summer-unless we’re driving by together.
The summer schedules not strict, but it is a schedule. I know as the years go by and the kids age this will all go in the memory box as they’ll have their own ideas of how they will spend their days. But for now, with three young(ish) children, this discipline is how I survive our summer and maintain my fair share of lazy.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog. Cristie, a New Jersey mom, can be found sharing her unscheduled foibles at Right Hand Mom.