I LOVE Summertime. I love everything about it. Being from the North, you crave light and sunshine and warmth and all that goes with it. Or at least I do. I love when you put shorts on and still sweat. I love getting mud beneath my fingernails from working in the garden. I love being able to sit unhurried in the backyard reading while sipping my coffee. I love being able to go somewhere on a whim, just drop the list on the table and pack a picnic and head to a park…or the lake…or somewhere, anywhere…the more unplanned the better.
This is what I love about summer. Not so much, my Jax. Oh, have I learned lessons the hard way over the last two summers, that exhaustion from meltdowns and stress from his anxiousness and constant questioning can sweep away the lazy, hazy like the wind does to those wispy dandelion seeds. Poof. Peace gone, flown away as it feels like he can ruin the most fun of sunshiny days.
Oh yes, I’ve learned my lesson from the past, or at least I hope so, and now have five simple rules I am living by this summer:
1) Schedule at least one activity every single day and put it on a calendar so he knows he can count on that. This goes against my way of doing things in the summer (read:lazy), but I hope it will make things a little less crazy. So far, the month of July is working out pretty well with some half-day programs Jax and Emme can attend at a local church, and swim lessons. We also enjoy just doing things walking distance from our home, like park dates, or even just the sprinkler in the backyard. Having a schedule helps cut down on the incessant questioning about what is next and the anxiety from the unknown. We’ve already made a list. Now Momma just needs to get busy making plans!
We also have some regular dates on the calendar already with some of their friends so they can keep up those relationships. Especially Jax. Relationships are hard for him. The time with friends has to be regular and often.
2) Schedule regular eating, rest times and heavy work breaks. This is as important for my kids as the activities. Having regular down times are a must and they are both more content when they eat well and on a schedule. And we’ve learned the hard way not to overschedule them with activities. They just can’t handle it. It takes them awhile to download from the busy time of school, and then to get into the new groove of summer. We decided not to put ball teams and practices into the mix at this point. Keeping it simple seems to work for our family right now.
3) Plan ahead and prepare them for our camping trips. We spend several weeks a summer in our camper. They love it! However, it takes some preparation to get them re-oriented to their new home when we are in the camper. This means having a camp-out right in our driveway for a couple nights before our first trip. It also means keeping things like their familiar bedding and stuffies in the camper with us. And I can’t forget to do rule #1 and rule #2 while on our trips either. Having some scheduled activity even when it’s supposed to be restful works much better for my kids who need help staying just right.
4) Work in some Momma and Daddy down time. We have never been very good at this at all. We are hoping with the supports we receive now because of Jax’s diagnosis that he will be taken care of sometimes so we can go out. It is easier to find someone to watch Emme by herself. And Jax really likes his support worker. And so do I. We are hoping to have some evenings out, even if out means sitting in our backyard around the fire for a few hours after kiddos are in bed. This also means I intend to still have my coffee on the patio in the mornings, even if it means the kids are playing on the trampoline while I do it. They’ll have to give a little for Momma’s sake.
5) Remember that Summer is so short, at least here in the North. That means there are lots of things that just don’t get done. My house will be a mess. We’ll eat food that needs less preparation. And we’ll wear some clothes twice (ack!) if we need to in order to make room to play together. The house will be clean by the time the first snow flies again.
It won’t be long until the end of August rolls around and both kids are in school full time. I have to remember that even on the days when it is hard, and when I don’t want to stick to the schedule, that it will be worth it as the kids will have more fun, and be more fun to hang out with. And here’s hoping that the Summer time will be less Crazy this year!