Okay, so, many of my friends dread the Summer holidays because they do not know what to do with their children for three months. They count the days until their children are back in school. Not me.
In many families all parents work so Summer is a time when children need more supervision. Extra childcare is expensive and boredom is rampant. Many children seem to feel that they should be entertained all the time. I have watched friends struggle as they try to balance work, Summer activities and family vacations. I’ve been there myself a time or three. I have also told my boss that under no uncertain circumstances will my job interfere with the needs of my children or my desire to spend time with them. I was lucky in that my hours were flexible and I was able to work from home. My boss wasn’t too terribly thrilled but I told him if he didn’t like it he could fire me. He never fired me. I always put my hours in and met all my deadlines.
Last year my youngest daughter had her first social summer. She had four friends that she spent almost everyday with. Being a solar child, she was up with the sun. Breakfast and chores were done by 8:30 or 9 a.m. She was ready to go play but her friends were apparently NOT solar-powered. The time between when she was done and 10 a.m. was long and tedious and filled with clock watching. When the clock hit 10 a.m. it was like someone had fired a starting gun. She would race out the door with a, “I’ll be at friends 1 and 2 (sisters) or friend 3 or friend 4”. They roamed our little neighborhood playing between houses. They rode bikes and scooters. They played games of imagination. The climbed trees. Most importantly the were children having fun. My daughter would race through the house occasionally to use the bathroom or fix herself a picnic lunch to be eaten on someones lawn. The calls started around 6 p.m. as mothers began calling each other looking for girls to come home for dinner. With sad faces and drooping shoulders girls would go home for dinner. By 7 p.m. they were back out the door and could play for another hour. At 8 p.m. my daughter would drag herself through the door happy and exhausted. A shower, some snuggle time and she was off to fall into her bed only to repeat the process the next morning.
Boredom is a requirement in our household. Why? Because it is the doorway to imagination and creativity. Electronics are not allowed during this hour of quiet times but there are many other options available. We have an extensive library filled with books. We have a good supply of craft activities. We enough Legos to build a large city. I would like to put together a mini workshop where they can build things out of the project scraps we have lying around using various hand tools. Doing absolutely nothing is definitely allowed.
The one thing my children have learned not to say is, “I’m bored.” The minute they say this I have extra chores that can be done like washing walls and baseboards, cleaning the microwave or washing windows. Once they assure me that they have nothing to do and are bored any of these chores becomes required and their personal time is lost. You would be amazed at how quickly they learn to entertain themselves.
Summer is when we spend a lot of family time. We have pajama days, movie nights, read together, play games and spend time with cousins. We have regular BBQs on Memorial Day, The 4th of July, Pioneer Day (Utah thing) and Labor Day. There is also the annual family camping trip the first weekend in August for anyone who can come. The campground is close enough that those who cannot camp can come for a day or an evening. We usually spend 3 or 4 comfortable days camping. That is a post in and of itself.
Yesterday was the last day of school and Summer vacation has officially started. I look forward to this all year with as much excitement as my children. Long, lazy (sometimes crazy) days spent sharing books, fun, laughter and building memories. No perfection required because the best memories are always the ones where nothing goes right. Here is one of my favorite Summer memories:
We were having a movie night. The children (all six) were upstairs showering, putting on jammies and getting pillows and blankets. I had popped a huge bowl (13 quart) of popcorn and pulled out the hide-a-bed in our couch. My youngest son, age 5, was the first one down the stairs and launched himself onto the bed with his pillow and blanket. He landed on the bowl of popcorn flipping it through the air and across the room. Popcorn when flying everywhere. It took us over 30 minutes to pickup what we could find and vacuum the floor, bed, chairs and entertainment center. There was a lot of laughter as we found popcorn in some of the most interesting places: on top of the piano, under the computer screen, in the house plants, and behind the DVD player. I popped more popcorn and we enjoyed the movie. We kept finding popcorn for months whenever we moved furniture and houseplants. It was like having a treasure trove of laughter hidden around the house.
What are some of your favorite childhood memories? Share the laughter.