Friday, May 22, 2015

summer strategies

Any good parenting strategies that I have learned over the years are a direct display of God's grace coming to me though other people.

There have been numerous people who have deeply impacted the way I think about parenting and do parenting. In fact, too many for me to mention here today.

However, I would like to zoom in on the one who has walked most closely with me through the parenting saga in the past 12 years.

Meet Amos. (far right)


sorry about hind shot. Amos prefers to keep his online presence minimal :)

Mr. Administrator.
He loves to create systems.
He loves to work quirks out of faulty systems.
Believe me, he has had plenty of practice at working the flaws out of my hastily created chore charts and summer schedules.
Mr. Former School Teacher.
Mass (wild) crowd control is seemingly simple for him.
He's really good at what he loves to do.
In fact, so good that I remain 100% quiet when I  hear ladies saying things about their husbands like "Well, I would like to see him try to keep the house running smoothly and the children fed for a week......(blah, blah, blah)"
The issue is that I'm scared to let him even try it because I would likely come back to a household that was running more smoothly than ever.
So, while I'm not willing to turn it all over to him, I am slowly learning that he has some very valuable lessons for me.
I will admit that I've been a very slow learner.
I rather like my own way of doing things which is more of a  "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-work-impulsively-in-spurts-as-the-mood-hits-party-hearty-as-often-as-possible".
My way actually works fine for me, myself and I.
But. It doesn't work so well when you're trying to keep a family of seven on task and in some fashion of order.
The 3 most significant things I am learning from my husband and trying hard to make part of our summer are:
1. Work with the kids.  Yes. They can put a tremendous amount of work though in one day, but I must stay engaged with them throughout the process.
 I cannot say "Go clean the basement" and expect them to do a thorough job while I am upstairs sewing. Just doesn't work. 
I've been amazed already this summer at how my presence and a few instructions and encouragement along the way really does help keep them on task and keeps the bickering to a minimum.
2. Make lists 
 I easily get overwhelmed by own mental list of things to do, why would it be any different for my kids?
I have a master list of projects that I want to work on this summer as well as daily routines. Every morning I make a chore list for each child. They have some flexibility with how and when they complete their chores.
Some of the chores are super small and can easily be completed in 5 minutes or less.
Some chores are larger so I  split them up into chunks. Like: "mow the front lawn before lunch. mow back yard after quiet time"
I like to cross things off lists and feel like I really got something accomplished. Guess what? My kids do too!
3. Reward them for a job well done.  (ahhhh. this is the part that I like)
A job well done is a job completed without constant nagging from mom or fighting with your siblings about who is doing the most or the least or whatever.
The reward doesn't always have to be monetary or something big. It can be as simple as a trip to the library which I already had in the plans for the day. (shhhh....don't tell them)
I like to give them rewards throughout the day to keep them going.
Again, don't think too big.
-  a Popsicle for mowing a section of the yard
- 10 minutes playing a computer game
- 1/2 hour in the pool
- a ball game (w/dad :) )
 and such like.
I know that these ideas are pretty basic, but it is truly a stretch for me to stay committed and consistent to even very basic concepts.
So instead of trying to take on every area that I think I need to work on, these are the 3 that are on the front burner this summer.
Maybe once I get them under my belt, I will be able to move on to higher heights.
Onward then to "Work hard, Play Hard Summer 2015"

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

first day of summer vacation

Some days are just a little dramatic.

Especially when summer break jumps upon you like a wild hyena and your only response is to scream like a calm woman being chased by a wild mouse.

So. Actually our first day of summer vacation went well, especially considering the fact that there were no plans in place besides a few random words scrawled on a piece of notebook paper.

My mantra for the summer is "Work Hard, Play Hard!"  It's going to take a lot of defining to help my children understand what all this may look like in the coming weeks.

Here's how the first day of summer vacation 2015 shook out at our house:

- two mile walk for mom to pull together a few plans for the day and to get some much needed  exercise.

-5 huge loads of laundry processed

-basement cleaned

-visit to the library. 35 books scanned {quickly} and approved by mom.

-back lawn mowed

-leaves cleaned out of hedge

-swimming pool set up and filled with water (small inflatable one)

There's nothing quite like the first jump in the pool of the season. 

-met new neighbors while 4 kids were splashing and shrieking in the pool.

-encounter with mouse followed by a raging battle {insert massive amounts of screaming and hollering and thumping and banging}

terrified mother hangs close to her brave son

-the battle was unsuccessful for the humans. The mouse was thought to be trapped in the parents bedroom.

-mother refuses to sleep in bedroom until the matter is settled once and for all

-total furniture rearrangement in master bedroom in a desperate search for the mouse. This was no small feat in which the man of the house was heavily involved.

-The mouse was not captured, but the master bedroom got a face lift and a better cleaning than what it has had in 2 years.

just a peek at the one corner of the room

throw pillows I made out of an old blanket

-Family trip to a local farm to buy our weekly 5 gallons of unpasteurized, creamy milk. {We LOVE it this way!!!}

- 2 mile family walk/run at Woodcock at dusk. I love walking with the family for a number of reasons, but one is that my husband insists on me getting my exercise while he takes care of the boy who falls and scrapes his knee and the bike chain that continually falls off.

-Home. Bed time snack.

-We all fell into bed happily exhausted.

-Sometimes it is wise to take back big statements made in stressful situations. I slept like a baby in my own bed even though there was a mouse on the loose.

I think we fulfilled my mantra for the first day.

And it really was more fun than I expected.

Must add:

In my first waking moments of this morning, a mouse slipped under the door of the bathroom as I was upon the great white throne. Staying calm, I exited the room quietly and turned the matter over to my brave husband who is so much better at conquering mice than Yours Truly. But to give myself just a bit of credit: Not one little scream or squeak escaped my lips.