A few years ago, I posted a photo of our family’s Summertime Agenda of Awesome, and the idea took off.
Since then, I’ve stuck a similar poster on the wall each summer just before summer officially begins to let the children know the expectations for those long (sometimes stressful) summer days.
In years past, the agenda has always included such activities as “color a picture,” or “do a craft.” I would stock up the game cabinet with watercolors, markers, crayons, and drawing paper, and when they grew tired of swimming or trying to play in the blazing sun, I’d sit them up at the counter and watch them pass the time away artistically.
But this year is a bit different.
While I wouldn’t say my kids have outgrown coloring or painting, it certainly doesn’t hold the appeal that it did when they were younger. And so it is that finding things for the big kids to do has left me feeling a bit nervous.
How will I occupy them day in and day out? How will I keep them off their blasted electronic devices?
HOW AM I GOING TO SURVIVE?!
It dawned on me that I should be rejoicing rather than fearing this summer. My bigger kids are quite independent now, and they are immensely helpful with their little sister. For this, I am quite grateful. But still…summertime can be hard on moms as we try desperately to blend together fun and boredom.
With that in mind, I’ve come up with a few ideas to keep my kids excited about summertime, while also still layering in some of our old standards like coloring and painting. I may even get a little brave this year and let them try spray paint!
Here are three things I’ve come up with to keep summer with big kids interesting:
1.) Make a meal for the family
Each child will have the opportunity to cook a meal for the family. They get to plan and prepare the meal, and we will all eat whatever they fix. I was amazed at how quickly they all jumped on board with this idea. Secretly, I’m kind of hoping that they fall in love with being in the kitchen, and they take my food prep duties permanently.
A mom can dream, right?
2.) Stay up as late as you want reading
I have a friend who does this with her kids every year, and I’ve always loved the idea. This year, we’re implementing this into our summer agenda.
One night this summer, they will have permission to stay up as late as they want – they can even pull an all-nighter if they so desire. The caveat? They must be reading books. If they don’t want to read, then they have to go to bed.
My husband and I already have a wager going on who will fall asleep first.
3.) Electronic Day
Like all kids (and most adults), mine are completely enamored with all things electronic. Kindles, iPhones, television. It’s the battleground of motherhood trying to keep these kids engaged in real life.
For the most part, we keep time limits on our electronic time. You don’t get to engage in cyber world unless you’ve read a real book first. Electronic time is measured out, and there are frequent breaks in which you must do something active and engaging.
This year, I’m going to give them one day to indulge – one day to watch electronics without time limits. If they want to veg out all day long, I’ll (most likely reluctantly and painfully) let them do it.
My hope is that by the end of the day, they will feel like slugs and realize why their dad and I are constantly telling them to quit staring at screens.
Yes, I know…I’m still dreaming.
These are just a few of the things we’re doing to make sure the summer months don’t turn into a long blur of frustration and total boredom.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with boredom. So I’m building a bit of that into their days as well. Someday they’ll thank me.
How are you keeping your kids occupied this summer? Any ideas to share with the rest of us?