We have had a wonderful summer. Baseball and camps and boating and swimming. Late nights and s'mores and biking and cool morning breezes.
But when August hits, I'm about at my limit. We're waking up later and later in the morning and lunch happens after 1pm, if at all. Flip flops are breaking and swimsuits are tight. I'm done being the taxi driver and creative director. Honestly, I just want my schedule back. (Summer lovers, don't hate me.)
The chaos and lack of order is making me twitch. Just a little bit.
I deeply respect those of you that are gifted with the “go with the flow” nature and those that wish summer would never end. You can have my kids for the week. (Just kidding.)
As the chaos, I mean FUN, goes on for another month before fall hits, I find myself grasping at measures in which I feel an sense of orderliness and control. Frazzled moms, I thought I'd give you some tips:
#1: Label cups for each child. Every day the countertop seems to be filled with dirty glasses that were probably used only once for a quick drink of water. This drives me crazy. So, I purchased matching cups for my kids, labeled them (with my handy-dandy-trusty label maker) with my kids’ names, and they sit near the fridge where our water dispenser is located. Yes, I wash them thoroughly occasionally. Yes, I realize the fact that I love (and even own) a label maker means I am a nerd.
#2: Use Whiteboards. I found small, cheap whiteboards online for a dollar apiece, but I have also seen them in the Target dollar section and at the Dollar Store. These things are amazing. I use them a million different ways, but primarily, when we are packing for a trip or just a day at the beach, I will write down all the items that my kids need to remember to bring. The kids place a check-mark under their “number” when it’s found and placed in the suitcase or car. (Yes, we number our children. We speak in code in public using these numbers, as well. “I have 1 and 3! Do you have 2 and 4?” Yes, I realize your nerd alert is ringing loudly in your ears about now.)
#3: Purchase a guitar bag for your guitar! If your kids are like mine, their guitar(s) are all over the house and their music is flying like fall leaves. I invested in a cheap guitar case (really, a glorified backpack for guitar and music) to protect the instrument and my sanity.
#4: Use a cheap canvas bag for music. Bags in my house multiply like little rabbits. We have bags from the State Fair and from fundraisers. Garage sales GIVE them to us. Even Goodwill is now packaging purchases in canvas bags! I use this abundance for various activities. Piano music is in one. Theatre book in another. Awana materials have a separate bag. We have a swim bag and I have a "Mom bag" for sports events. This way, when I'm yelling: “We have to leave NOW for your piano/guitar/voice lesson or baseball/soccer/theatre!!” my kids grab the appropriate bag from the entryway closet and RUN out the door. This isn't a perfect system, but I will put up with a messy entryway (whose isn't?) filled with our various bags because it helps transition from one fun activity to the next.
#5: Books on CD. About this time of the summer, even the kids are tired of the endless fun of summer. I love to read (I have even been accused of being a bookaholic) but getting my kids to read in the summer is not easy. Okay, it’s a little like giving a cat a bath.
One thing that helps is our book basket. It’s in the middle of the family room, where everyone gathers to watch TV (cough— I mean lounge together and laugh and play games.) I throw in books of all reading levels, the new Lego magazine that came in the mail (FREE, by the way at www.club.lego.com), and books I want to read out loud to my kids. When my kids say they are bored, I point at the basket.
But the biggest sanity saver of all? Books on CD. Stop by your library and stock up. Books on CD are a lifesaver while you are driving to and fro activities and your kids need a little creative brain stimulus. (And, BONUS, it produces car quiet that will rival the iPad coma!)
Most of all, moms, let go of the mom guilt. You are giving your kids a great summer, no matter what you've been up to. You love your kids and THAT is what matters most of all! Ignore the messes and let go of expectations--enjoy the last of summer. Even if your summer list isn't all checked off, remember the fun you DID have, for that's what matters most of all!
Jen Hickle, Author
Since I was a little girl playing "school" in the garage with the neighbors, all I've ever wanted to do is teach. I'm passionate about passing on knowledge to other people!