The Longest Days of the Year

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You’ll notice I haven’t been around as much lately. The reason is unremarkable, and I can tell you what it is in two words: summer vacation.

Now I’m as big a fan of summer vacation as anyone, but the word “vacation” is a vast misrepresentation for anyone who spends the months of June, July, and August in the company of suddenly liberated elementary school students. Students, who, freed from the structure and planned activity of an 8 o’clock to 3 o’clock school day, fill the ensuing leisure time with plaintive whines of “I’m bored!” and “What’s to eat?”

So I feed them (but not fruit snacks on the hour, every hour, as is their preference) and I plan activities–trips to the library, picnics at the park, walks, movies, reading-together time, Lego construction projects (but not enough to fill every second of the day)–and yet, somehow, I still come up lacking in the Super Summer Mom department.

Did I whine this much when I was a kid? Maybe. My mom could tell you, I’m sure. I do remember being told, in answer to my own rare cries of boredom, that “only boring people are bored, so use your brain and find something to do.” As to snacking, my brother and sister and I usually just helped ourselves from the pantry, a temporary solution that often resulted in chaos and dismay in the evenings, when my mother discovered that every carefully planned menu for which she had grocery shopped was missing at least one key ingredient.

So, tell me–what’s a mom to do? How do you keep the summer grumbles at bay? I would love to hear from you.

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19 responses »

  1. a few ideas of things the kids can do to spur on their imaginations:

    build a fort (sleep in it that night with flash lights and loads of books)

    put on a play of a book they’ve picked out for you to read to them – have them come up with the costumes, props, background, etc..

    let Katie start her own blog, journaling her awesome summer vacation.

    let them dictate imagination stories to you as you frantically type them down on the computer – then print them up and let them draw picture that go with them.

    have the kids invent their own superheroes and make a series of comic books out of construction paper.

    ….just a few ideas…hope they come in helpful πŸ™‚

  2. You’re right. It’s hard to fill up every minute of their day when there are all those pesky dishes to wash and clothes to fold. You can come to my house anytime. They can play in the sprinkler and pick flowers in the field. And we can watch Grey’s Anatomy season 2! (You’re invited too, Kathy.) πŸ™‚

  3. Two words: Grandma’s House. LM is gone for 5 weeks to his grandparents and is having the time of his life. He has good friends there that he sees every summer and wonderful grandparents who adore him. Of course now I need to figure out what to do with myself so that I don’t go crazy missing him, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic!!

  4. Well, I thought I had the perfect summer planned for my 3 monkies…a new pool and a trampoline! What better way to get outdoors to enjoy the summer sunshine right? I’ve decided that God has a very sick sense of humor…

    My first problem this summer has been the fact that there apparently is no sunshine in Texas! We’ve had rain literally every day for almost 3 months. I can count on 1 hand how many rain-less days we’ve had here. So, we’ve been trapped inside of the house and let me tell you, my kids are sick & tired of everything I’ve come up with. Add to that the fact that I still have to work from home. It’s been a very rough summer here and I’m already counting the days until August 27th – the first day of school πŸ™‚

    We’ve been having as many playdates as I can schedule, but I’m still getting the “I’m Bored!” whines on a fairly hourly basis from at least 1 kiddo.

    I’m definitely going to try out a few of the ideas that Cori mentioned above…she’s such a fun mommy πŸ˜‰

  5. I had Silver Valley Girl’s children,my nieces here for ” Camp” when they were younger. One thing that helped all of us was quiet time each day after lunch. ( I got this from my summer camp days.) We all had a time we had to be quiet and read, draw, write in journals ( or now blog :)), or rest. I set the timer and we all did it. That helped everyone. We were busy all morning, and planned an activity after that time in the late afernoon, but it gave all of us a rest!

  6. I turned over our old digital camera to my son, so he’s developing that as a hobby.

    Now that it’s warmer, we’ll be at the beach 3 or 4 days a week. Can’t get enough of the lake during summer.

    Both my kids like to draw… They can do that for hours.

  7. Heres a few ideas that you may or may not have thought of or are already doing –
    Walmart is inexpensive on a package of card stock..Do they enjoy art? How about having them create thinking of you, thank you, and blank cards to donate to a local non profit or nursing home?
    Maybe … Pick out the best pictures for later use to design a calender for teachers and family gifts.
    Check with your local Parks Dept. for a day camps.
    Start making Christmas presents for family or to donate to a shelter.
    Bake Doggie treats to donate to the humane society.
    Write Christian songs and have them perform .
    Host little no reason parties with themes. Fancy Hat Day, spend the week designing invitations, and making hostess gifts.
    Just a few ideas .. hope they help.

  8. I’m not a Mommy, but here are some ideas…

    …when I was a kid, I always grew a Sunflower plant. I know you live in an apartment, but it doesn’t take a lot of space to grow one if you have a little area. Every year, I’d take pictures next to my Sunflower plant to see how much taller it was than me!

    How about a Christmas in July project? You could do your own advent calendar throughout the month and some little activity that would tell the story of Jesus’ birth, then have a birthday party on July 25!

    I was an only child, so I entertained myself…played with my toys, on my swing set, and was an avid reader. I always participated in the summer reading program at the library

  9. I wonder if Katie would like to learn to sew. Nothing fancy but I bet she could put together a block quilt for a doll. I know a couple of people who could donate scraps! Bubbles are fun and play dough is a big hit around here. Those tiny cookie cutters are great for play dough. The current obsession around here is Lego Star Wars and water balloons.

  10. Thank you all so much for the great ideas! That’s exactly the sort of thing I need. I’m making a list right now to keep on the refrigerator where it will be handy when those nothing-to-do blues strike!

  11. I get the summer grumbles too–because all my friends that are mommies are doing exactly what you’re doing!!

    (Plus the fact that my very job description: children’s librarian, means that I am entertaining chilluns all summer long. So here’s my hint: take them to the library. I can say this in in good conscience because I know you won’t bring them to Pittsburgh!!)

    Good luck with that.

  12. Two words: Victorian novels.

    Kids love ’em. They take hours and hours to read and nothing gets the mind of a child whirring like a good old page turner like “Middlemarch”.

    My recommendations:

    Oliver Twist: reminds the children how lucky they are to have a home and to live in the 21st century.

    David Copperfield: same as above

    Bleak House: if you’d like to dissuade your young ones from a career in law, this will help

    Pride and Prejudice: yes, it’s pre-Victorian, but the kids love Austen’s beautiful language and shrewd psychological insights

    Vanity Fair: Katie getting a little vain? This’ll help

    Barchester Towers: Want to help your kids not be Episcopalians? The cloak and dagger scrimmages for power in this book will help assure your children that you are raising them in the right church

    This list should keep them occupied, and if they breeze through this list before summer is over, hand them “Crime and Punishment” and they can start of the Russian novels of the 19th century.

  13. Awesome ideas, Raymond. I think Dostoevsky would be especially relevant to their budding understanding of the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for personal morality. It’s a subject that comes up a lot.

    How wise you are. πŸ˜‰

  14. I have this same issue, Katrina! Here are a few ideas:

    Books on CD (when they need some down-time, but are tired of reading). Our library has a good selection of Beverly Cleary and Magic Tree House ones.

    Go to the Dollar Store. Two dollars can seem like a shopping spree for little ones. πŸ™‚

    Rearrange their bedrooms or put up new posters or pictures. A little change can make a big difference for youngsters!

    Have fun in the kitchen with all of the fruit that is in season. Make smoothies and milkshakes and write down your “creations”.

    Hope these help, girl. Enjoy your sweeties and these sweet summer days! (It was 110 here today!)

  15. Hi Katrina, I’m not sure if you’ll remember me…I’m a teammate of Becky Reeves in Togo, West Africa. I think we knew each other a little bit at Harding too. I just found your blog today through Sarah Lanning’s blog. What a wonderful writer you are! I’m impressed. πŸ™‚

    I couldn’t help but giggle a little bit at this post. My kids are the same way in the summer. Honestly, they are this way all the time. There’s really NOT much to do in Togo!!! I often don’t have transportation in the afternoons when Bryan is teaching in the village. So, the kids and I are stuck at home a lot trying to fill our time with meaningful activities. Here are some things that have worked for me and three VERY active little boys!!!
    1. Reading: My oldest is an independent reader and he loves Magic Tree House books and nature books. I also like to have a “read-aloud” book going that all of them can enjoy. Right now, we are reading about George Mueller.
    2. Outside play: I let them get away with more than their daddy.:) But, I think it’s worth cleaning up muddy clothes, etc. to have them be creative outside. Right now they are building a nature club library. Recently they also found “gold” in the yard.
    3. Spiritual formation: We are spending some time each afternoon making cards with a Proverb. Afterward, we post them on the door.
    4. Swimming: We are blessed to have one pool in our town. A visit is a huge treat!
    5. Games: We have a big collection of board and card games. I taught them to play solitaire this summer.

    Okay, that’s all for now!!! Blessings to you!
    Check out my blog: http://www.traceyries.wordpress.com

  16. Hi! I found you through a link on Jennifer’s blog.

    I actually have another blog specifically with things to do during the summertime when my kids are about ready to drive me insane. It is just my ideas for others to use…you are more than welcome to pull ideas, use them, change them, whatever!

    http://judys50days.blogspot.com

    Hope you find some sanity soon!
    Judy

  17. Wow, more great ideas!

    Sarah, Katie will LOVE the idea of creating new concoctions in the kitchen–she went through a phase of making up “recipes” that all included her favorite ingredients (peanut butter, fruit snacks, chocolate chips, and Smarties), so I know she will like the smoothie twist (and it’s quite a bit healthier!)

    Tracey–Thanks for your comments! I especially love the idea of linking our play and craft time with their spiritual development! Like many Christian parents, I would love to be more deliberate in imparting spiritual truths to my kids, in addition to using the little “teachable moments” that come up. That’s a great use of summer hours!

    Judy–Thanks so much for the link! I will definitely check it out! Other parents have so much to offer through their experiences; I look forward to learning from yours. πŸ™‚

  18. Umm, I redid my bathroom, but I am not so sure the kiddies would be into that. Although, it made my life better.

  19. I have another idea. Set each of the kids up with their own WOW account. I’ve heard a person can spend hours, nay days playing that game…

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