It's been a while since I've written--since November, to be exact. I'm doing my best to find a balance between family, work, and other writing projects, and I'm hopeful that a summer routine will start to get easier.
It's hard to believe that school has already been out for over two weeks. Sometime around April of every year I get eager for summer, thinking that the pace of our family life will slow down. Then before we've even reached summer solstice the reality hits me that summer does NOT slow things down. It's just a different kind of busy. Summer means juggling family vacation, baseball games, football camp, basketball camp, swim lessons, and garage sales. True, I don't have the hectic morning rush of making sack lunches and scooting kids into the minivan for their morning shuttle to school. Instead, I have bedtime battles, when the kids can't understand why on earth they should take a bath at 8:30 when it's still light outside. And forget about them actually closing their eyes to sleep before ten. As for summer mornings, the school year's one hour rush of breakfast, getting dressed, and gathering backpacks changes into a three hour process of three kids rolling out of bed at three different times requesting three different breakfasts and searching for three different pairs of shoes that have been scattered to six different areas of the house. ENOUGH!
Are any other moms struggling with this? I think this happens because we feel like the kids deserve a break for that first week of summer, and let's face it--we don't mind letting the kids sleep in an extra hour or two while we leisurely sip just one more cup of coffee in the wondrous quiet of the morning. The problem is that the first week turns into the next week, and the next week. Then sometime around mid-summer we realize that we have to break some bad habits and sleep schedules before the next school year starts. Moms, we can nip this in the bud now. We can do this! Who's with me?
We have to get our families back into a routine. In our house, the bedtime routine is: bath and pajamas, snack, brush teeth, read a book, then lights out. This routine starts about an hour and a half later in the summer, due to baseball games and protests that the sun is still up, but the routine is still the same. The morning routine, which has been our biggest challenge to keep, also needs to be kept similar to the school year. Years ago, I read a book called Sink Reflections, by Marla Cilley. She wrote that the first thing you should do in the morning is get dressed right down to your shoes. That way you're ready for anything the day throws at you. I have stuck with this rule for myself. It's time the kids stick to it also. Get dressed first, eat breakfast, and THEN they can play video games or watch TV. The longer kids loaf around in PJ's and slippers, the less they will feel like going outside to play. It's amazing, though, how the act of putting on a pair of shoes can instantly motivate even my four year-old.
I'm proud that my kids love to play outside. Sure, occasionally they watch SpongeBob SquarePants or play a Tak and the Power of Juju video game, but they are active. At the end of the summer, it will be those family vacations and games played outside that your kids will remember most. So get your whole family to put their shoes on and go outside to play!