Last year, I posted this photo of a sign I hung on our laundry room door. It boldly proclaimed the plans for our Summertime Agenda of Awesome:
We really did have an agenda that was packed full of awesome last year, and this year proves to be shaping up nicely as plans are finalized, and preparations are made for trips and visitors.
But still, in the busy and the crazy and the constant Go-Go-Go of life, I want to make sure we take some time to just breathe. Because the temptation is to fill up every square moment of the days until suddenly school starts again, and one more summer is gone as life continues to chug full speed ahead toward kids graduating.
Sloan starts middle school next year.
Hang on. I need a moment to process what I just wrote.
Middle. Freaking. School.
We only have eight summers left before he goes to college. Eight summers left to make memories as an in tact family unit. Eight summers left to explore together while everyone lives under the same roof.
So I’m very conscious of the fact that we need to soak the days up for what they are. A treasured gift. Because some day these kids of mine will be grown and out of the house. And when they leave, I hope they’ll look back on our summers with fondness. I hope the arguments and boredom, and the sense of insanity that always seems to trail behind us like a persistent breeze fade away, leaving nothing but a true sense of nostalgia.
So with that in mind, I’m busy planning this year’s Summertime Agenda of Awesome, and I thought I’d share a few suggestions for all of you so that you could plan your own awesomeness.
1.) Limit technology
Oh, it’s a temptation to let them park in front of the TV and lay around the house, and there are certainly times for that. But summer is also about swimming and basking in the hot sun. It’s is for lemonade and cookies, and falling into bed tired and exhausted after a long day of playing.
Set limits on television and electronics usage, and stick to your guns. The kids will try to talk you out of the limits, and they’ll make persuasive arguments that will sound good when you’re feeling exhausted, but don’t let them wear you down! Offer a lot of alternatives to technology to help them learn to entertain themselves as the lazy days stretch out slowly.
2.) Let them sleep in
Friends, I say this as one who has children who are loathe to sleep late. While there are perks to having early risers (namely getting them out the door during the school year is a breeze), in the summer it is less thrilling to hear them rummaging through the kitchen at 6 am.
So, if you have sleepers, let them sleep in (within reason) as often as possible. And if you don’t, like me, then you’ll simply need to plan on drugging your kids so they sleep longer.
(Unless that’s a possibility, in which case I might not be kidding…)
3.) Stockpile their rooms with books
Make it a habit to visit the library weekly and bring home new books. Because I have children who don’t love reading, I bribe mine to read. They get 1-2 dollars/book depending on length and difficulty. (I might even be inclined to pay more if they read a really hard book, but I’ve never had to cross that bridge.)
Maybe you have strong readers and paying them per book would bankrupt you. Perhaps you put pay them for the number of pages they read (set the number high for the avid reader). Or perhaps you simply offer a fun excursion at the end of the summer if they reach a certain goal.
Whatever you choose, make reading a summer staple, and teach them the art of relaxing with a book rather than relaxing with an iPad. (Hint: You’ll need to lead by example on this one, mom. Stock up your own pile of books as well.)
4.) Plan fun activities
Summer doesn’t have to break the bank. You can find enjoyable summertime activities right in your own backyard if you’re willing to do a little research.
You can also add fun items to the list like painting together (buy up a bunch of paper and water color supplies before school ends and set it in an accessible place), set up a lemonade stand and help the kids raise money to give to a worthy cause.
Let them each pick out a recipe from one of your cookbooks and give them full reign over the kitchen (or age appropriate reign over the kitchen).
There are so many possibilities for summer. When your days stretch from minute to minute, rather than the more hectic hour to hour of the school year, the time to create lasting memories is ripe for the taking.
Of course, the greatest agenda in the world will not prevent those dreaded words of “I’m bored” from slipping out of your children’s mouths, but at least when you hear them you can gesture to the sign on the door and let it be known you’ve done your part in helping them occupy their time.
We are in massive preparation mode around here, and I am on a mission of epic proportions to get my house under control. It is a bit of an exercise in futility given that school has been out, and I’ve had roughly 8 children on average inside my home all summer long, but it makes me feel like I’m moving forward.
The kids head back to school tomorrow. Big launch!
The baby is coming in one month. Huge launch!
My e-book releases next Monday. Big, huge, massive launch!
That’s right – my first e-book, 30 Days to Becoming a Writer, releases on Amazon next Monday and I am so excited to share this with everyone. I’m really proud of the way this book has come together, and I’ve worked hard at making it the best I could possibly offer to the world.
If you’re interested in being a part of my launch team, please leave me a comment with your email address, and I’ll send you more information. In the meantime, I will continue all the preparations for launch.
Look for more information in the coming days, and for me to return to blogging with more fervor now that I have a little time to stretch together a few thoughts.
Maybe it’s because my kids were younger, and I could tie them up in their rooms for hours at a time without fear of them ratting me out.
They did take naps, though. Is that when I wrote? Or perhaps it’s because they were younger, so a strict bedtime was important, which gave me more evening hours, and made getting up early easier.
Or maybe I just neglected them altogether?
Whatever the case may be, for some reason this summer it has been nearly impossible for me to find time to write. I tried waking up early so I could savor the quiet hours of darkness, but I have a child who also likes the quiet hours of darkness. The only way to beat him up would be to get up in the middle of the night.
I like blogging, but I like sleeping more.
We’ve had late nights and busy days, and blogging has been firmly placed on the back burner until next week when school starts.
SCHOOL STARTS NEXT WEEK! You can’t see it, but I just started dancing – a comical sight when one is 15 months pregnant.
Since I haven’t had time to come up with decent bloggy words, I’m going to leave you with a few links of posts that have impacted me this week. These were all probably written by people who still lock their kids in their bedrooms all day long.
I’m kidding! Actually, one of these links was written by me, so…
Looking for adorable lunch boxes to send to school with your children this year? I would suggest these gems from Rockey Paper & Design. Not only are they fun to look at on this outside, but inside is equipped with a small chalkboard on which you can write notes to your cherubs each morning.
In short, these lunch boxes will set you well on the path to that Mother of the Year nomination you’ve been working toward.
If you, like me, have wondered why more Muslim leaders aren’t standing up against the atrocities happening in Iraq, then this is the post for you. I was relieved to see that Muslim leaders from around the world had taken a stand against the actions of ISIS, condemning it for the wickedness that it is.
I would also urge you to spend a little time on the Preemptive Love website to learn about the amazing work this organization is doing in Iraq. There is an opportunity to do more than watch in horror by giving to this organization as they work to aid the persecuted people of Iraq.
It’s been a hard week, hasn’t it? Worldwide news of destruction, the death of beloved celebrities, and the heaviness of this world were enough to darken the walls of our hearts. But take joy, my friends. There is still beauty in this world, and there’s hope for tomorrow.
I pray this weekend is restful, peaceful, and filled with enough laughter to chase away the pain.
In roughly seven weeks, our life is going to change drastically. I think I’m ready for it, but I don’t know.
Are you ever really ready to have a baby?
This is the fourth time I’ve done this, so I feel like I’m a little more prepared for the process of transition. I’m ready to not be pregnant. I’m ready to meet her. I’m ready to see my big kids become big siblings, some of them for the second or third time, one of them for the first time.
I’m ready to to move forward, but I’m also not.
I’m not ready for middle of the night feedings. I’m not ready for the sleep deprivation. I’m not ready to try and get three kids up and out the door in the mornings with an infant in my arms, and then get those same three kids to bed at night with an infant in my arms.
I’m not ready to figure out how to fit eating and nap schedules into sports schedules.
I won’t really be ready for any of that, which is why I’m priming myself daily to just let it all go. Go with the flow. Ride the wave of crazy until it crests a little bit.
“You’re not going to die from disorganization,” I tell myself daily. Although with the nesting settling in full force, I am finding myself a bit twitchy at all the things that need to be done around here. The clutter – AH! The clutter. I want to get rid of all of it. I want to stop spending money (last bit of summer fun combined with school time preparations is making me feel like I’m just tossing stacks of bills into the wind…)
I want to hole up in a neat, quiet, organized house and wait for her to come.
But I can’t.
There are activities in which to participate, preparations to be made, messes to be tolerated, and bills to pay. Insurance confusion won’t sort itself out, and kids want to swim three times a day while they still can.
(I just wish they would quit swimming in their clothes because the laundry is killing me softly.)
There’s a season in which creating, working on my craft, takes a much more prominent role. And there are seasons when mothering my brood has to be given greater precedence.
There’s a season for a neat house and fresh, homemade meals, and there’s a season for dirty floors, dirty laundry, and take out and left overs.
There’s a season to keep up, and a season to fall behind.
I’m not sure if there’s ever a season for sleeping when you’re a parent, but I hold out hope as it’s the only thing that gets me through the days.
Right now, as we finish out our final two weeks of summer before school starts, I find myself in a season of activity. That’s okay. I’m going to be okay with that. This is a season with friends over, lots of noise, messy floors, and memory building. It’s not a season for extended hours of writing.
In two weeks the season will change.
And after that? An entirely new season will begin.
Embracing the crazy is my only option…because drinking’s off the table.
What season are you in right now? Are you enjoying the season, or are you, like me, talking yourself through it, clutching onto the joyful moments like a life vest?
I could label it unpreparedness, or perhaps the scattered brain of a creative. I could call myself unorganized, or better yet – unfocused. I could blame it on pregnancy (I get to use that excuse for two more months), or I could simply call it confusion (kids kill brain cells? Can I say that? Is that even a scientifically verifiable fact?)
What it all boils down to is this: Most of the time, I don’t have things together. I’m betting you don’t, either.
From the outside looking in, it may seem I’ve got life in order. For the most part, my children are somewhat put together. My house isn’t a pit of horrors (not today, anyway), and 90% of the time we get to where we need to be on time.
And by “on time,” we all understand that I mean within 10 minutes of when we were supposed to be there.
But I’m not going to lie: I often feeling like I’m barely keeping my head above water. I’m treading fast, kicking against a current that wants to pull me down, and while I suck in deep breaths, forcing oxygen to my brain, I remind myself over and over to enjoy this. Enjoy the heck out of this life, cause it’s the only one you get.
It’s the whole “Seize the Day” mentality. I’m seizing.
I’ve got the flippin’ day by the tail, my friends. Tally-Ho!
But I get tired, and my metaphors start blending together, and I fall short. I snap at my kids, and I throw my hands in the air with exasperation over silly little things. I fight the urge to hole up in a corner with my phone and lose myself to the false reality of Instagram and Facebook, because I know that most of the pretty photos on those sites are filtered to make life look like sunshine and bunnies all the time.
Summer is coming to a close, and a part of me is so sad. 88% of the time I really do love having my kids around. They’re fun, and they make me laugh. They’re a lot of work, but as hectic as the days get, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Part of me is doing back flips, though.It’s the subconscious part of me that’s not 52 months pregnant.
I’m overwhelmed with all the small people that filter through my house on a constant basis. They’re tired of one another, and they, too, end up exasperated over silly little things. The constant go-go-go of our days has me exhausted, but there’s no time to nap. No rest for this weary Mom.
So the scheduled days of school will be welcomed with both reluctance and jubilee…by everyone in our house.
Such is life, right?
There are pro’s and con’s to every season. Each phase leaves us excited and exhausted, ready to move forward and longing to stay where we are. Sometimes we even wish we could revisit the past, just for a few precious moments in time.
For those of you winding down your summer and preparing to step into the future with your kids, I share your pangs of sorrow and your whoops of joy. If your summer was anything like ours, it was packed full of fun, of time together, and of a hearty dose of relaxation. It truly was a summertime with an agenda packed full of awesome.
I raise my proverbial glass in a toast to you parents now. Let us tip back our drinks in celebration. Let us commiserate the passage of time. Here’s to another fabulous school year.
There is a common belief that women are not only good at multi-tasking, but we thrive on it. While I have no doubt that many women fall into this category of master multi-taskers, I’ve found that, for myself, as years go by I have become less and less deft at the art of multi-tasking. It seems that I can focus on one event at a time these days, and before I can move forward with the next momentous step, I must get through the packed days before me.
We have 28 days of summer vacation left. As always, the time has flown by and we haven’t fit in all the fun I’d intended to fit in when school ended. Perhaps this is because I always set expectations just a smidge too high?
This is quite possible.
I counted today, and there are 60 days until baby is due. That seems like it should be a long time, but considering how fast time has flown by already, I’m anticipating that the remaining two months until she arrives will be a blur.
If I sit down and think of all that needs to be accomplished in the next 60 days, or all that I still want to do in the next 28, I feel my heart race. Anxiousness sets in and I want nothing more than to hole up in a corner with a good book and pretend it isn’t happening.
Life can easily be measured in momentous events. We can move from one big thing to the next without even enjoying the moments in between. This is the danger that I face, that we all face, every single day. Will I enjoy what today has to offer, or will I get lost in the looming deadline of 28 days, 60 days, and so on…
Part of me dreads the end of this summer break. I love summer, and (most of the time) I love having my kids home with me. While a piece of me craves the routine that school brings with it, the other part of me mourns the thought of those measured out days.
Equally, I feel both anticipation and trepidation at the thought of welcoming our daughter in 60(ish) days. I can’t wait to meet her…but also I can.
There’s a lot to be done between now and then, but most importantly, my goal is not to dwell on the measured length of the days we have left. I want to enjoy today for all it has to offer. The quiet of this morning, and the laziness of today. Friends coming to town, family fun at the beach, sleepovers with friends, and late night movies.
There’s nothing I can do about the life deadlines looming before me, but I can enjoy the moments in between. I have to try, anyway. The alternative is to live from big event to big event, and all the little moments would be lost in the shuffle.
And what is life without the little moments, right?
How do you keep yourself from living from one big event to the next? How do you balance living out your days with planning for the future? What do you do when life feels measured by the days instead of moments?