I’m enjoying the last few hours of quiet and solitude in my house today. In just a few hours school will officially be out for the summer. In my world there are three phases of summer:
Phase 1 ( Alice Cooper Days)
School’s out for summer! We’re all positively giddy. No more lunches to pack, no more waking sleeping children (such a travesty!), no more homework. We’re ready to go, ready to be lazy, ready to soak up everything summer has to offer. We have our summer bucket list and the energy to cross every single thing off in the first week.
Phase 2 (The Days of Whine and Sunscreen)
How many more days are left? If I have to apply sunscreen one more time I might just stab myself. The heat has sucked just enough energy out of us to want to go anywhere, but not quite enough to keep the kids from annoying each other. The summer bucket list can go to hell. Oh wait, we’re already there, bucket list and all.
Phase 3 (Bittersweet Symphony on the Prairie)
Where did the summer go? How much can we fit in the last week? We’re sad to say goodbye to the pool and lazy days and flip flops … but Mom is ready for some solitary confinement in her own home.
As the kids get older, it definitely gets easier, and Phase 2 seems to shrink a little every year. I know that this summer and the next couple that follow are special ones. The kids are independent enough to make it a little less taxing, but young enough to want to spend the summer hanging out with us. I know this, but I also know that if I don’t plan ahead and come up with a loose routine, we’ll careen into Phase 2 before the end of June and find ourselves more bitter than sweet come August.
We’re continuing our tradition of the Six-tastic Summer List. I won’t bore you with it here, since I’ve done that to you the last 2 years and everyone and their uncle has a summer bucket list these days. But we love it and I think we came up with a list that’s both fun and realistic (after vetoing “Get a dog” and “Go to Disney World,” curmudgeonly mother that I am).
I’m also keeping my sanity-savers from last summer in mind. The only thing I’m doing differently here is setting up seperate boredom jars for the kids to reflect their ages and interests better. You better believe face painting is still in there, though. That kit is still going strong three (!) years later.
The new thing for us this year is our summer manifesto and pledge. I think we do a great job of figuring out the fun part of summer, but as the kids get older we’re realizing that we really underestimate what they can and should be capable of to make the family function better. Yes, summer can be a blast, but nothing jerks the rug out from underneath the fun when the parents feel like they have to be the cruise ship director, the chef and the janitorial staff all in one. So Mike and I came up with this family contract. It says, yes, we can have the best summer ever and we’ll do our parts to be less parent-y and more fun. However, in order for that to work, everyone needs to do their part. We can’t be fully present and enjoy you when we’re too busy picking up your socks and telling you to stop poking each other. So here’s what we came up with:
Summer is here and we want it to be the best summer ever! This summer the members of the Six family pledge to:
- Do fun crafts and projects
- Spend lots of time outside swimming, playing, biking and walking
- Eat outside more
- Pay attention to nature: hike, watch birds and butterflies, enjoy the sky
- Be risky!
- Relax as a family: read together, play games, watch movies
- Have family meetings
- Entertain friends
- Be more spontaneous – say “yes” more often
In order to do these things and enjoy each other’s company, everyone needs to:
- Have good attitudes
- Be patient
- Be responsible for themselves and their things
- Help around the house
- Listen and follow directions
- Keep yourself busy when the adults have work that must be done
- Be thankful we have this time together.
We hereby proclaim this will be the best summer ever and agree to abide by the rules set above.
I was inspired by Hands Free Mama and I’m excited to use it as an additional tool to make sure these golden summers of childhood don’t pass us by without some really great memories. So what’s your trick to keep the Alice Cooper excitement of summer going past Father’s Day?