I started the summer with big BIG plans. As the school year came to a close, I got more and more excited about all of the time I now had with all three kids. We could really get into projects, pull out all of the board games, learn some life skills, and hop in the car to road trip at a moment’s notice.
It’s July 21st. Things we haven’t done:
(A) gotten really into projects
(B) pulled out all of the board games
(C) learned life skills
(D) road tripped
To be fair, we’ve done a lot of little things and it’s not like I gave up on the big stuff immediately. I meticulously mapped out all eleven weeks of summer break that our school system allows on a Mon-Fri 8AM-5PM schedule. Every half hour had a task, color coded with notations where necessary. I divided a curriculum on ancient history into three major areas and spread education activities throughout our days, balancing with physical activity, math, chores, quiet reading time, and a few spots of “free play”. And it worked. For about two weeks.
Here’s the thing: it’s summer. It’s hot. The kids have been thinking all year and their brains are tired. My internal homeschool mom wants to keep their minds engaged and my external Type A mom wants everyone to be in their designated positions at the top of each hour but my kids are hot and they have tired brains. And very very quickly it became obvious that they were leaning in towards free play and that being in a schedule made everyone feel like we were either late for something or rushing through something or waiting for something.
For the last two weeks, we’ve been off schedule. They have played a ridiculous amount of Minecraft. Like, three hours a day. Pediatricians across the nation are furious. They also watch TV and they leave craft projects half finished and they know nothing about Ancient Greece. We have been to the library 3-4 times and the playground 34 times. We all sleep in.
It’s not that productive and I do worry about the summer slide and that they’ll go back to school with all of their math facts obliterated by popsicles and PBS kids. I’m also actively worried about how much they aren’t learning about coding, how much Spanish they aren’t speaking, and how little cultural exposure they’ve had recently.
THAT BEING SAID…
I’m also aware that this is how most of my friends spend their summers and I’m starting to really get it. My kids seem more relaxed right now than they have in a while and I snap at them a lot less when nobody is really supposed to be doing anything. Also, it’s tough to include a toddler in a strict schedule of educational activities but it’s not tough to let a toddler hang out in his pajamas playing Hot Wheels all day while throwing dry cereal at him like he’s a pigeon.
I’m not winning at summer by any means and when I see all the cool stuff other people’s kids are doing on Instagram, I get more intense waves of the ever-present I’m-not-doing-enough-for-my-kids feeling. I’m also a little bummed that we didn’t make it to the Romans in our schedule because Romans are cool.
I don’t know. I figure we’ll fix whatever needs fixing when September comes and if it turns out that video games have ruined their attention spans and they’ve become math illiterate, that will give them lots to talk about when they give their Mom-ruined-me-but-I-survived TED talks. In the meantime, summer.