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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer is only seven days away

School days that is. I have seven more days. Less really, since today is almost over. Spring seems to have finally released its grip of one warm day followed by a week of rain and highs in the 40s. Dandelions and boats have reappeared along the lakefront.
I've been pondering how our summer will unfold and reading a lot about how others plan to steep their children in "enrichment activities". I KNOW my mother never spent her precious free time dreaming up ways to keep me from my own boredom. If I didn't manage to entertain myself, her cure for boredom involved lots of chores. I can tell you that nothing cures childhood boredom faster than being handed a bucket and sent off to weed the front lawn...by hand.

With that in mind (and realizing that I have 5 1/2 year olds who live in a city with no real yard to weed...no yard which also makes playing outside difficult), I'm trying to strike a balance somewhere left of a rigorous schedule that kills joy but right of unstructured chaos. If it's too rigid, I'll give up during the first week. If it's too loosey-goosey, no plans, no direction, and no order, I'll lose the will to live.

We do have a few things set in stone however. Lucy is having bone graft surgery on June 10 (Happy Anniversary Len! Oh, this wasn't how you envisioned celebrating 26 years of marital bliss playing out?) to repair her gumline fistula which you can see in the photo below.
We are going the artificial bone route, hoping to avoid the more traditional bone graft which involves removing part of her hip bone, creating two surgical (and thus two painful) locations. You can read about her surgery here and about her surgical team here.

We will be welcoming Nana a few days prior to surgery who will help out with Kate while we're at hospital and during recovery. Lucy will be on a puree diet for 1 week and a soft foods diet for the following 2 weeks which knocks out the whole of June (and will probably knock the rest of us out with her despair and outrage, that child does love her food).

As those of you who live in the city know, getting into a park district program with just one child can be...challenging. I don't know what camp gods were smiling upon me on registration day but I managed to get TWO kids into the same two camps (why didn't I buy a lottery ticket as well?)! The first one is a tennis camp in Lincoln Park. It's only one hour, three mornings a week, for 2 weeks, but will give them something to look forward to at the first of July. Here's hoping Lucy manages not to get hit in the face...

Then we have a bit of a break before we head for our annual FL vacation where the living (and parenting) is SO.MUCH.EASIER.

Later in the summer they will attend a sports camp (the SECOND park district camp I managed to get in!). This one is three morning hours, three days/week for 2 weeks.

That leaves a whole lotta hours of summer that I hope will be filled with pool, beach, bike rides at the lake, family walks after supper and...learning some life skills.

Yep, this is the summer that we are going to focus on learning how to take care of ourselves and our home. I have to say, they are pretty self-sufficient in a lot of ways. I no longer get them dressed. They nearly always have dressed themselves by the time breakfast arrives at the table. They can button, zip and thread velcroed straps on shoes. They are moderately capable of brushing and flossing their teeth, although Lucy is better at it than Kate if the red dye tablets from our dentist are to be believed. And hair brushing seems not to be a problem either.

So we'll focus on areas that need improvement. We'll start out by learning to tie shoes. Then we'll move on to learning different ways to tie a scarf and belts. Lucy wants to learn how to put her hair into ponytails and to braid hair so I'm hoping to find one of those doll heads that hairdressers use to practice on.

Next we'll move into keeping a home. They already know how to wash tables and shelves from their work at school. They have been helping me by sweeping the cat litter in the hallway and last week they helped me wash the windows during a spring cleaning frenzy that enveloped me. They both know how to make up their beds, set and clear the table, fold laundry, hang up their clothes and put away their toys.

So our new focus will be: learn how to wipe down cabinets, wash dishes, scrub a toilet and the thing we're all excited about: planning, shopping for and making a complete meal. They will each get to select 3-4 new recipes from my cookbooks, make a shopping list and head to the store. The recipe chooser is the kitchen helper but the real prize around these parts is the alone time with Mama.

The last area of focus will be our patio. Although we don't have much room or sun, we're going to shop for, plant and care for flowers and herbs on our back patio. Although they have "helped" me in the past, they were more inclined to just throw dirt and rip flowers off plants and then drown the rest by "watering" them. This year they will each have their own plants to care for and keep alive and healthy. Hopefully along the way they'll learn the names of various flowers and herbs, which do better in sun vs shade, watering requirements and how to properly prune or pinch-back plants to help them grow.

Reading back over this, it sure sounds like a lot but as mothers of preschoolers the world over know, what sounds like a lot will probably only take about 20 minutes tops. Which leaves another 13 hours, 40 minutes to fill. And that's just ONE DAY. #thestruggleisrealya'll

Either I micromanage their childhood or I give them as close an approximation of childhood as I had. Being a kid should be fun, and not from 20 pinterest boards of developmentally correct activities, but because this is when they are supposed to be free from much responsibility. The good thing about this age is that they actually see housework as fun, not a chore that takes away from what they could be doing. And I plan to milk that cow for all it's worth. But should they risk their lives and utter the b-word, a few hours of scrubbing baseboards will cure what ails them. Mama may be fun, but she don't play.

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