I love summer.
The last school bell rang last Thursday and although most parents held expressions of dread and despair in the schoolyard, mine was full of anticipation and absolute joy. I love having the kids home and this summer is a special one for us. In September, new beginnings and new chapters will commence. #1 will begin middle school and the social angst that goes with it. I will be saying goodbye to #2 and her mornings spent with me and her little sisters as she begins Grade 1 – a full day adventure including lunch at school. #3 will begin kindergarten, leaving us in the afternoon. #4 will adjust to life at home with mama, only to make room for a new brother in November (more like late October).
This year we’ve decided to cut back on the camps limiting to one week each. I want them to spend as much time together as possible this summer, chilling out as a family before we endure another adjustment in the fall. A summer full of relaxation, spontaneity, freedom, and re-connection. I want them to fully experience a splendid summer…although #1 is already anxious about buying a combo lock so that she can start practicing before school starts, #2 is obsessing over how lunch is actually going to work in September and if it’s at all possible she can come home for lunch at least once a week, and #3 cannot wait to sport her older sister’s well-loved princess backpack on the first day of school and has told everyone we meet on the street that her new teacher’s name is Sandee.
Here are some of my goals for this summer (some loftier than others):
- Create themed weeks for the kids…just like camp but without the stress of getting kids up and ready at 8am and without the high expense. Arts week: Include exploring different artforms (including the much-requested shrinky-dink) and have a gallery showing/dramatic play by the end of the week. Science week: Experiments exploring the senses including the smell and touch identification exercises we used to do in grade school, making gooey things like silly putty and “quicksand,” writing messages in homemade invisible ink, and of course, everyone’s all-time fave – mentos in a coke bottle. City Week: Scavenger hunt with the kids in the city…for example, #1 is quite the amateur photographer so her project is to create an “alphabet album” for #4 simply by taking shots of interesting letters found in the city. This week of course also involves riding the bus, streetcar, and subway which seems to thoroughly thrill the younger 3 kiddies…I’m not sure if it’s the different modes of transportation or the interesting characters (and smells) they encounter that amuses them more…International Week: We will travel around the world…actually, around the city – visiting Little Italy, Little India, Chinatown, Greektown sampling foods and picking up cheap souvenirs from our travels. Outdoor Play Week: We will visit the most fabulous outdoor areas/playgrounds in the city where the kids will have a scorecard to rate and judge their favourites. Of course, lazy days at home, playdates with friends, and sleepovers with the grandparents will be interspersed throughout the weeks.
- Lots and lots of reading this summer. #1 already has a goal to read 20 books while both #2 and #3 would like to go to the library every week to grab at least 10 books to read.
- Escape the predictable and turn routine on its head. Have dessert before dinner. Have opposite day (or opposite morning…not sure how long I would be able to mentally withstand an entire day of it). Bedtime Scmedtime.
- Document daily. I hope to take at least one photo a day and write in my journal daily about our adventures, misadventures, and non-adventures.
- Re-decorate their rooms. I have decided to loosen up and let them paint their bedrooms with me having final colour approval of course. #1 will be getting a chalkboard wall…with a dust buster accompanying it.
- Learn to sew. I am convinced that I need to make their clothes…even if in the end they look like pillowcase-dresses.
- Cook dinner at least twice a week. The kids are very much into “helping” with meals and Ever-Patient would like a much-needed break from this chore. (This is one of the loftier goals.)
- Give away/donate/sell all the baby-girl clothes.
- Take the training wheels off of #2’s bike.
- Have a yard sale/lemonade-treat stand.
- Teach a class or two here.
- Have swimming lessons for the kids at my mom’s house.
- Prepare homemade popsicles.
- Make these with the kids…especially on onesies for the baby.
- Engage in weekly water fights.
- Have conversations in French for at least half an hour a day to refresh #2’s skills and to improve #1’s in preparation for her start in French Immersion in the fall.
Here is my summertime vow:
I promise not to rush or hurry through any moment. Each moment will be savoured like a fine wine. I will be open to opportunities for connection and growth. I will find the magic in the mundane. I promise to bask in their curiosity, creativity, and in of course, the glorious sunshine of the summer. I will make homemade lemonade once a week…or once every two weeks.