Ok, I've got 10 days to prepare myself mentally, emotionally and physically for my kiddos to be home 24/7. I love spending time with my kids, but both they and I need space. Frequent space. So we like to keep summer low-key, low-maintenance, and low-energy. Some people call this lazy. Fair enough. I, for one, will choose to embrace the laziness of summer and lean into my lazy giftings.
1) Reading. Reading isn't exactly lazy, but round these parts it is. We lounge around in our pjs, spreading out all the reading material and colouring books. I also institute a mandatory quiet time wherein each child must stay in his or her own room for one hour. With a book (or audio book). Whether they read it or not is their choice, but it's gotta be screen free and away from me and each other. Check out your local library for kids' reading programs. Our library has one, but the late fees are killer. Which brings me to...
2) Get online and renew, order, check out, shop, whatever. If you've got books and don't want to drag a potty training three-year-old across town to the library, renew your books/movies online and reserve new ones. Your girl needs a new swimsuit? Check amazon or other online shops. The eldest is forgetting his maths? Give him your old slow laptop and introduce him to online kids math games (check your school's website for recommended links). Watch videos on youtube or netflix, have your kids play games and watch short clips on pbskids.org or other some such educationally fun site. Just because you're home-bound doesn't mean you are without options. You just have more, comfy, pajama-friendly options.
3) One outing a week. Any more than this and you risk endangering yourself and innocent bystanders. Pick something close enough so they won't fall asleep in the car, but far away enough that you can justify driving through McDonald's for milkshakes on your way home. Don't put pressure on yourself to come up with loads of outdoor activities or daytrips. Just try to think up one place a week that won't break you or the bank. Even if it's just across the street to the green (which is where we'll be).
4) Water. Buckets, bowls, cups of water. Doesn't matter. Just send them in the back yard with a container, show them the water and let them go to town. For added fun, give them a few towels to lay down on, dry off with, whip at siblings. If you pay for water, keep track of the time or use a sprinkler or sprayer to keep it under control. My friend Nicole made a great homemade sprinkler last summer using old 2-litre bottles. If you're crafty and non-lazy, you could help your kids create them. If you're like me, make Dad do it.
5) Forts. Never underestimate a good fort. If keeping it indoors (like we had to do last year), set up shop in the living room, bring in loads of chairs, blankets and pillows, turn on a book on cd (we prefer the Chronicles of Narnia radio theatre). If you've got outdoor space (like we do this year, praise God!), use lawn furniture, towels and old sheets. Things will get dirty and fights will eventually break out, but this can help your kiddos work together while you "work on pinterest" or "write" or "inculturate by watching back to back to back episodes of Doctor Who." Whatever.
6) Chore charts. My kids don't make much of an allowance, but in the summer I always try to up the ante. They get more chores, but they also get more rewards. Ranging from big (sweep the floors, which in our house is a major task) to little (brushing teeth), I'm trying to help them become responsible and independent. Also, I have my kids fill out their own chore charts. This can take a handful of minutes to several hours, depending on the child. Mine get a kick out of coming up with their own tasks, and I enjoy seeing what they think is valuable work. Just make sure you save your pocket change. You're gonna need it.
7) Don't clean. Just don't. I mean, yes, if there's a major spill on the floor, take care of that. And I'm assuming you like to eat on clean dishes. Do laundry when you run out and hang it to dry (better for the environment and a great excuse for only doing one load a day!). Forego dusting, vaccuum only when necessary and leave the kids' stuff where they left it. Toys and junk and books will inevitably cover your floors and table tops, but stressing about reorganizing everything every night will just make you the Hyperventilating Mom with Crazy Eyes (trademark pending) when the kid-tornado comes back around in the morning.
So there you go: seven tips to making yourself the lazy summer mom you've always dreamed you could be. Results may vary, screen time may increase, tears will be shed. But come September, everyone will be well-rested and ready to get back to school's structure. And most importantly, everyone will have survived. Which, really, is my overarching goal of any parenting adventure...
What are your plans this summer? Are you go-go-go? Are you do you feel kinda lazy? No judgment.