It's the first official week out of school and "mom camp" as my kids call it has officially begun. As a work-at-home parent, summer break equally excites me and worries me at the same time. As I think about these fleeting years of them growing too big too quickly, I look forward to cherishing these days together making memories under the sun. At the same time, as one that thrives on routine and rhythm, the complete openness of summer break has me feeling unsettled and nervous!
Our kids will often wake up and wonder what day it is- "Is it soup snack day at school? Is it church day? Is it swimming class day?" Having some consistency week to week provides them (and me!) with a sense of security. When we paint a mental picture of the day for my kids, it prepares them to be resilient, open, and eager for the little adventures ahead.
At the same time, I want them to be able to use this summer time to explore their little hearts out, filling their cups with what speaks to them. I also want to avoid over-scheduling them and instead give them plenty of room to direct their own play. Someone asked us this past weekend- "what are you goals for the summer?" Have fun was the best answer we could muster! But as a I reflected, it hit me: our goal is to find the balance between rhythmic routine and free-spirited exploration.
So, for this summer, I have mapped out one overall "to-do" for each morning of the week, providing a general rhythm to our schedule. This will be a loose routine for us to follow, and then we fill the remainder of our time with free play, bike riding, swimming, exploration, handcrafts, and enjoying the extraordinary gift of the ordinary day. Our week will look something like this:
Monday - grocery store errand
Tuesday - swim class
Wednesday - outing or playdate
Thursday - explore nature
Friday - pool time
For the afternoons, I also sat down with our two 5-year-olds and brainstormed our bucket list for handcrafts they might want to make and summer treats to test out in the kitchen. We've stocked up on some supplies to make a multitude of handcrafts with, available to them when they are eager to create. Our art cabinet contains:
- watercolor paints and paper
- wool roving
- dried flowers from spring and moss
- sea shells
- glass "jewels"
- acorn caps
- sun paper
- sewing needles, hot glue, scissors, etc
To see what we may be crafting or creating in the kitchen, I've finally started using that fancy pinterest app ;), and you can see here what we have on our bucket list. Having many of the supplies on hand already has given me some feeling of preparedness, while also allowing for spontaneity to create when they so choose.
With a little luck and patience, we'll find the right balance between rhythm and free-spirited play this summer. Here's to you and your little adventurers this summer too!
PS The book "Play the Forest School Way" has given me many ideas for nature-based play and I always rely on it to help me through school breaks!