Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Motherhood This Week: Thoughts on Planning for Summer with Kids

This Friday Bean finishes up her school year, and then we'll officially be footloose and fancy free to start crossing off the fun ideas on our 2012 Summer Bucket List. This week, I'll be focused on setting us up for success. And FUN!

I'll spend some time with my calendar, mapping out and finalizing camp dates (they'll each go to day camp for two one-week sessions, both children the same two weeks, so I'll have some time at home alone, which I think will be nice) and trips and generally building a nice, balanced plan for us of peaceful days at home and exciting times afield.

Cleaning & Organizing
I'll do a little cleaning and organizing, just to get a leg up on summer's inevitable influx of all things outdoors to indoors, and all things tidy into chaos. When both of my kids spend full days at home, we can barely walk around in here by days' end, so cluttered is the floor with toys and games and art supplies and stray flip flops and hair clips and on and on and on. I'm going to instigate an idea to combat the clutter called a Junk Jail. Have you heard of this?

Toys and other stuff that gets left out past a certain point (I'm going to try starting with two points daily: One will be nap time and one will be bedtime) will go to Junk Jail. Prior to making any arrests, I'll give the kids a 10 minute clean-up time right after lunch and right after dinner. I'll arrest and confiscate junk they haven't put away in its proper place by the end of those clean-up times and put it in jail. Junk will get released from jail after 24 hours(ish). We'll see if this helps motivate them to put their things away, even if it's just two times daily.

To prepare for the introduction of Junk Jail, I'll do a bit of sorting, culling, re-organizing and labeling of toys and such, just so that the kids and I can be on the same page about which of their things belong in which places, and that we're not inundated with so much junk we become overwhelmed by it all and give up.

Chore Charts
Besides clutter-control, I also want to start givingn the kids a few additional chores to do each day. I know this will work with Bean because she's already in the habit of using her simple morning/afternoon chore chart on school days. At seven, she's able to contribute quite a bit around the house, and for now she actually enjoys it. (I know that's going to change!) This weekend I set out all the ingredients, measuring cups and spoons and a simple recipe for baked beans, and she put it all together and got the dish ready for slow-cooking for me. (SCORE!) I think I could actually put her on lunch duty most days this summer, as long as there's no actual stove/oven action involved, and she'd enjoy that. I think she'll be able to vaccuum as well, and possibly do some of the tasks involved in keeping the kids' bathroom clean.

Peabody already loves dusting and cleaning my glass patio doors, although granted only up to the four-foot mark. He's also an expert dishwasher-emptying assistant.

Next Tuesday we'll start our weekly runs to the local farmers market to buy fresh produce (and maybe some meat this year, too.) To help guide our shopping, I'll be putting together a very loose framework menu plan we can follow week after week, popping in the fresh veggies in season and available each week. This plan will include plenty of outdoor cooking plus a few freezer meals for days we want to be out and about right up until dinner time. We've already begun making our own bread, and I'm going to buy a few veggie and herb plants tomorrow for us to plant in pots and beds over the next few days. I love the idea of freshness growing outside our windows and AND freshness in our happy, healthy bellies!

Mom Time, Dad Time and Mom-and-Dad Time
This Saturday night, Al and I took a few minutes to discuss our personal summer ambitions. He wants to be prepared to take a big CPA exam by September, and I want to continue posting here and keeping up with my other on-line pursuits, without leaving the kids high and dry for hours at a time. To those ends, we've agreed to forego our usual evening television time on the week nights so he can study and I can write. I've also hired our baby sitter to watch the kids an hour or two three days a week so I can get out and walk to train for the 3-Day.

On Friday and Saturday we'll have our usual alone time together, a mix of date nights in after the kids go to bed, and date nights out at regularly-scheduled intervals that I'll set up with our sitter(s).

It feels good to be this intentional about our free time together and have a plan to take full advantage of it. I think it's going to make for a very special, memorable and even productive summer for all of us.

This week I'm just going to be gearing up for summer's very welcomed arrival, and making sure the final groundwork's lain for an amazing few months of sunshine and mama-promises made and kept.


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  1. Oh my goodness, I need Junk Jail at my house. Ha!

    : )

  2. I bow before the Orangization Jedi.

    You will have a GREAT summer. My kids have 2 weeks of school left. Setting up a loose plan like this is top of my list this week.