Summer will arrive to the Karaffa household in just two short days.
Goodbye to car loops, life in the van, speech sessions, projects, and homework. Goodbye to constant reminder alarms in my phone that still don’t save me from the occasional “Oops!” Goodbye to conferences, meetings, programs, and events.
Hello to time, togetherness, fun….boredom, irritability and cabin fever?
Usually this is a time of fear for me. What will we do?? How long until they are bored?? How will I stay sane?? How will I keep them from fighting?? How will I have a break??
I say no! Not this year! Before you go thinking I am some amazing, got it all together, rock star mom, I assure you this was motivated by desperation! Last summer, we were still not living here in this big enough for all of us house. David and I had just married, the house we were in was a 3 bedroom with close quarters, all of the kids toys and activities were in boxes, and thus survival was my game. I had a general plan for each day and a desire to get out of the house and do things, but I have learned that without a set plan, getting out just doesn’t happen and if it does, it is last minute and stressful.
This year I wanted different for all of us. With 7 kids, many irons in the fire, and just life in general, quality time is unfortunately hard to come by. I don’t want a summer of me frustrated with them, them frustrated with each other, and all of us just trying to “survive” summer. All of this led me to make a summer schedule. I have been working on it for weeks and I still only have June planned, but I find myself looking forward to summer rather than dreading it!
Before I tell you some things I decided on, I will say this (as a wise friend pointed out to me while talking about herself as a mom). I am a mom driven by expectations. I make plans and then stress myself out trying to make them go just so. Changes in the plan throw me off my game and end up tainting the sweet memories I could be making with the sting of expectations not met. I have thought about this every day since my friend and I spoke and have been pep talking myself in preparation for summer and my “schedule”. Rain happens, hurricanes happen, sick happens, discipline happens, life happens. I have a month full of ideas and if they do not all happen, that is okay! We will regroup and make changes and move things around, but our goal will be spending time-not just passing the time.
On to the schedule! I decided on themed days mainly because it gave me a starting point. There are so many ideas on Pinterest, but this is what I put together:
Menagerie Monday-We have a few friends that have zoo passes like we do and Monday is the day that works for everyone. That meant I needed to find an M word that worked for zoo. Menagerie! Who cares if the kids don’t know what it means, I got my alliteration! Our zoo has the animals side and then a play side with a splash pad and different kinds of play areas. We will switch back and forth between animals and play every week.
Try-it Tuesday– For us, this means something different than it does on Pinterest. With so many birthdays around here and family that loves to give gifts, there are a lot of things in this house that have never been played with! The regular, beautiful, chaos of life is not conducive to slip and slides, sprinklers, kinetic sand, playdoh, science kits and the like. Maybe we are just chickens, but we usually avoid these things at all costs. Especially bubbles! I hate bubbles and their sticky, gooey messness. But on Tuesdays, these things will finally see the light of day!
Wonderful Wednesday-Seven kids is a lot of kids. Focused time is difficult with so many that need mom and dad’s attention.
Grace, Hope and Faith spend July in Virginia, so making the most of June is paramount. Madalyn, Meredith, Josiah and Charlotte spend Wednesdays and Thursdays away this summer so I decided that Wednesdays in June will be a day to spend with just the three doing something we keep talking about doing but never do. We will have a girls’ shopping day. We will have a cooking day where the oldest two can learn some basic cooking skills. We will have a baking day and a decorating day because they are always dying to learn some of the bakery life (and because I love two bird/one stone moments: we are going to do this the week of the twins’ birthday party). And we will go to the movies a few times. I am so looking forward to this quality time!
Thoughtful Thursdays-On Thursdays we will find ways to bless people. I have a few ideas, but I want to have a brain storming session with the girls and see what their hearts see and want to do. Kids have a way of seeing what we can’t sometimes. Along with that, Thursdays will be Theater Thursday. Those three girls love Disney channel original movies. We don’t have cable and we don’t spend a lot of time in front of the tv during the school year. That probably sounds like a thought out decision, but it is really more due to schedules. There is just no time for television. This summer, each Thursday, the girls will get to pick a movie to watch. We did this last summer too. Sometimes they love showing me ones I haven’t seen (and then talking through the whole thing because they are so excited haha) or they pick ones we all know and sing at the top of our lungs through the whole thing. Yes, there is a High School Musical Marathon Day and we will sing every song! I am not ashamed.
Friend Friday-I probably say to people, at least three times a week, “we should get the kids together!” Guess how often it actually happens. Fridays (and a few other days) will be devoted to making some of these happen!
While all of this fun is important, there are some other things that are important as well. We have a few that struggle some in school and stepping away from all they have learned for the whole summer will only make the return to school more difficult. Everyday will have a short time devoted to some kind of learning activity. Some days they will read in groups, some days they will work on summer packets their teachers sent home, some days I will come up with something of my own. My only goal is to keep their brains moving some every day. We will also keep up with those checklists I posted about a few weeks ago. I don’t function well in clutter so we will take a short time each day for everyone to work on their checklists and do their part to keep the house pulled together. The more they work together and help each other, the faster we can move on to the fun things of the day!
I really wanted a physical calendar so I could do a grand reveal, but I am not tech savvy girl. I went on Microsoft Word and found a perfect calendar template to work with and just started plugging things in. It’s perfect, it’s printed, it’s posted! Like I said before: July is still a work in progress because everything changes for us in July, but there will be that same kind of focused time for the four like a boys camping trip for Josiah, David and G-man (David’s Dad), and girl’s trip to visit Honey (David’s mom). The rest will come together! Look at me all not stressing it! We are all excited to start our summer and do more than just survive this year! I would love to hear some of your ideas! Happy Summer!