Summer is a technicolor daydream.
A hot sun, cold pool, dirt bikes, popsicles, and lightning bug sort of everyday fantasy where anything and everything is possible. If you have young, school-aged children (like I do!), summer is a whirlwind of little joys and discoveries, and reveling in the mysteries of long, lazy hours virtually devoid of responsibility and stress.
Well, it’s stress-free for the kids.
For mom (at least this mom), summer is just plain busy. Fun busy, but busy all the same. I told my husband yesterday, “I have no margins right now. No space for myself or even a moment’s peace because they are always in front of me asking for more, more, more.” It’s a never ending litany of: Push me on the swing! Take me to the library! Let’s go to the pool! I want to have a friend over! I need a snack! I want to go camping, hiking, biking, to the park, to the bakery, to Tropical Snow, to a water park, to grandpa and grandma’s house!
Yes! Let’s drop them off at grandpa and grandma’s house! (For the rest of the summer…)
No, I don’t really feel that way. In fact, I’m loving this summer and all that it entails. (Want to know why I’m blissful in the midst of chaos? Take a moment to read Why I Carpe Diem.) We’ve been hopping, but we’ve made awesome memories already. And though I haven’t cracked open my computer in a week, I have picnicked in the park, read books at twilight to little boys who smell like sunshine, and caught my baby as he jumps gleefully off the side of the pool a hundred times (at least). I’m afraid this means I have little to no time for blogging, but I’ll try to take the occasional break to pop in and say “hi.” I might also depart a bit from my usual bloggy fare by dipping a toe into “Mommy Blog” territory. Like today… I thought I’d share with you one of the things that is shoring up my sanity this summer.
My boys are 8, almost 6, and almost 2. When they were all “little” (they’re still little to me!), it was fine to just take each day as it came. But nowadays, my big boys need some structure. Some summer structure. I’ve discovered that a little culture shock comes hand-in-hand with the colossal switch from scheduled, rigorous school days to loose-y goose-y summer vacation anything-goes days. I’m doing a little homeschooling, but the thing that has saved my booty has been our Pick-a-Chore and Pick-an-Adventure jars.
Every Monday, the big boys each (blindly) choose two Pick-a-Chore cards out of the jar. These chores are independent of their daily responsibilities (making their beds, cleaning their room, reading at least 15 minutes a day, etc.), and all week that week they are responsible for those chores (with adult help and supervision, of course). Believe it or not, the boys LOVE it, and take their responsibilities very seriously. (Hope it lasts!) Their enthusiasm might be stoked by the fact that every week they also get to choose two Pick-an-Adventure cards out of the jar. These are fun “extras” that chase away the “I’m bored” blues. I know there are a million and one things like this going around on Pinterest, but this is my take on it and it’s been a real blessing for us! You can find out what our chore and adventure cards look like below. Just wanted to share.
Hope your summer is going great!
- Dish Duty: Set the table, clear the table, load and unload the dishwasher
- Laundry Duty: Gather the dirty clothes, help sort, fold and put away laundry
- Supper Duty: Help make a weekly meal plan and grocery list, shop, help make the meal
- Lawn Duty: Weed the vegetable garden, harvest, water plants, help mow
- Helper: Watch the baby while mom cooks supper, etc., sweep the floor after meals, do odds and ends
- Manners Police: Help everyone remember (and use!) their manners
Outdoor Obstacle Course (mom will set up)
Homemade Ice Cream (we’ll pick out a recipe together, get the ingredients, make it, and invite friends over to enjoy)
Movie & Popcorn (a nice break from the pool on a too-hot-to-be-outside afternoon)
Spy Training (mom will tape red string all over the house and the boys have to avoid the lasers!)
Wild Water Fight (mom will set up water stations all over the yard — buckets, water guns, hose, etc. — and participate, of course)
Science Experiments (6 different experiments culled from Pinterest and beyond)
Hot Wheels Chalk Town (one of my fave activities as a kid — draw a chalk town on the driveway for your HotWheels)
Marshmallow Architecture (all you need is toothpicks and mini marshmallows)
Treasure Hunt (mom will bury a treasure somewhere in the yard and give you enough clues to find it)
Build a Big Fort (old sheets and bungee cords, baby)
Photo Shoot (mom will arm you with her camera and take you wherever you want to go for cool pics — the boys get to be the photographers and the models — think fun: tree climbing, skateboarding, jumping off staircases, rope swinging, etc.)
Creature Catching (tadpoles, frogs, snails, snakes, and butterflies, beware!)
Ding-Dong Ditch (pick a neighbor who could use some cheering up and make a ding-dong ditch package)
Lava Floor (can’t touch the floor!)
Make a Movie (write a short script, gather costumes, act it out, and tape it on mom’s i-Phone — don’t forget the viewing party and lots of popcorn)
Backyard Mini Golf (we’ll design and set-up the course together)
Nerf Gun War
Bike Wash (like a car wash only we clean bikes, scooters, outdoor toys and anything else that could use a good scrubbing)
Mini Garage Sale (collect toys and stuffed animals, etc. that we no longer want and invite friends to a mini garage sale — think 25-50 cents per item — and use the proceeds to go out for ice cream or some other treat)
Packages to Canada (or wherever your loved ones live)
Pick-a-Pool (not ours! we get to go somewhere else…)