As summer break begins kids get obnoxious pretty quickly. I know, it sucks. But it is a necessary phase of decompression from our over-paced lives. Yes, even us homeschoolers are hyperpaced, cramming in all the goodness we can in fear that if we just sit and rest our kids will miss out on some amazing experience and feel eternally deprived as adults.
I fear our kids will grow and find out the hyper-paced is that they never learned how to sit in the quiet. How to be bored. How to contemplate.
Summer breaks breed creativity
Creativity comes in the quiet after the storm of knowledge rains on you. However you choose to take breaks, whether it is a long summer vacation or shorter intermittent breaks, the importance of the break in balancing our lives cannot be overestimated.
I can probably safely say we all need more breaks.
But breaks can quickly spiral into chaos, screaming, two boys fighting over a couch that seats 3 adults.
When should we ignore the chaos? When should we reign it in? And how?
I like to let my kids experience a bit of chaos. As long as they are not violent I don’t care how much they argue with each other. Although if it is annoying me I will send them away from me (i.e. to clean their room, or argue outside.)
See, arguing is important and I would rather they practice on each other than on me.
Keep a routine during summer break
Like all of life, even breaks need a healthy dose of routine or they quickly spiral into cacophony. But I don’t want to fill in my child’s days completely. I want them to be free to think and dream and create, which usually means they need time to get bored first.
But if you sit through it, let them go through those days of decompression where they will undoubtedly drive you nuts (and resist the urge to schedule every minute of their break with activities), you will find something beautiful on the other side of the chaos. Calm, creative kids, finding themselves. Trying new things, going back to old things, remembering what it is they love doing when no one is telling them what they should be doing.
The shift from being a consumer to a producer needs some nice blank processing space in-between.
Creating spaces in your routine
So this summer we are sleeping in, but not too late.
By 9 am we all dressed to walk the 50ft. to the neighborhood pool where we swim laps (and goof off a little, or a lot, depending on the day and the child) until 9:30.
Then we head home and eat some good grub for breakfast.
This is followed by free time. Lunch at noon, neighborhood band for the older kids at 1 pm (not at my house, yay!), more free time, dinner, most nights more swimming after dinner. Because it is hard to stay away from the pool.
Each kid has a stack of books to read for a summer challenge. Books I chose, either pushing them out of their usual choices or because I think they will love the book. They sometimes pick these up in free time, sometimes they play board games or card games, sometimes they play with the neighbors, sometimes they swing. Is this not what childhood is for?
Most days, we go back to the pool to play in the afternoon. What can I say? Water is fun. Summer is for water. No one is gaining summer couch potatoes weight around here.
We are watching Shakespeare and musicals this summer when we have time and want to. Because those are the things my kids love right now.
So we keep a basic rhythm because we eat on a schedule, move on a schedule, and play in-between. The chaos still comes, but they know what mom will say if they complain of having nothing to do. Mom always has plenty to do and will gladly share her jobs. I know you can get a lot of thinking done while participating in manual labor. Manual labor does not clash with my desire to have bored children. They compliment each other quite well.
Oh, and we use summer to switch chores because I can focus more on making sure each child knows what to do, how to do, and what clean means and they have plenty of time to go back as many times as needed to do the job right.
The trick to a good summer is to remember you are still composing/directing a beautiful song. This song is just slower and has fewer notes than the song of the school year.
I encourage you to think about your song and keep empty spaces so your child can make their own song this summer.
Maybe your kids need a little music in their summer, try out Merry Bells, for a unique kind of family fun.