Every year it's the same thing. Our family goes fast forward through Spring, activities consuming every moment and then out of nowhere school's out. I wake up one morning shell shocked thinking, "How am I going to keep everybody busy and off the computer all summer?" Dreams of more family time and a lazier schedule evaporate as I discover now there's more meals to prepare, kids who want to go places or have friends over and I'm spending WAY more time in the grocery store.
I confess I'm the type of mom who hasn't always expected a lot of her kids. I let them sleep in on free days. Am I a terrible mother for relishing the extra quiet I get when they're sleeping? My kids don't have consistent chores they must do every day, but when the house needs to be cleaned, I make a list and everyone picks a couple jobs. I allow my kids, even my eleven-year-old, to have an active social life even when their rooms are not clean (GASP!).
But occasionally I find myself getting annoyed, resenting all their free time. I decided I've been too lax. It's time to reclaim my status. I'm the mom after all. I get to call the shots. Summer should be the time I dictate our schedule, right? It is well within my control to order our days in a way that we ALL have fun. So Sunday night I made an announcement to my kids.
"Everyone needs to be up and ready to go at 9:00. We're getting rid of the brush pile and cleaning out the garage."
I got a few sighs and a screwed up face, but no eye rolls, at least not in my presence. Now I'm no ogre workaholic. I want summer to be fun just as much as they do. I have my own things I want to accomplish, so I added,
"We'll do whatever we can get done until noon and then the day is yours."
I worried about being the bed police and we did get a little later start Monday morning, but no one uttered a complaint. Do you think knowing I only expected a few hours helped? After we got going and everyone quit worrying about how much the others were doing, they almost seemed to enjoy completing a project together. They were very helpful and a mess I hated looking at every time I stepped out the back door is now gone.
Plus, I liked hanging out with them. They had fun working together and seeing progress, getting a little sun and exercise and feeling useful. Ladies Man actually said yesterday, "It's nice to have the garage cleaned out."
But the biggest change I noticed was in myself. I didn't feel crabby as they enjoyed their time the rest of the day. I smiled as I listened to their laughter while playing Super Mario Brothers. Knowing they'd done their part around the house that day, made me a much easier mom to live with. I'm sure I can come up with more of these little morning projects throughout the summer. I may actually get my house organized! Woo Hoo! And they'll learn a better work ethic than I've taught them thus far.
I suppose many of you are out there thinking, "Duh, Tami." I know. Cut me some slack. I may be slow, but at least I'm still learning.