By Elisabeth Corcoran
School's out. We're in the thick of summer. I remember summer when I was little I'd take off in the morning to a neighbor's backyard swingset to concoct some new club of the day, each of us bearing all our treasured stuffed animals as members. Or I'd head to the school playground on my roller skates or bike to survey the field for great hiding spots. Days stretched out into dusk, with maybe one return trip home during the day to refuel. Well, that's how I remember it at least. My mom could probably tell another story. You see, I don't remember being bored all that much, or wasting my summer days inside in front of the TV (though I probably did).
So this summer, as I was preparing myself for 81 days of me and my much-more independent kids (who just learned to ride two-wheelers this spring) I realized that I didn't want them to just lay around. I didn't want to hear ten times a day, "There's nothing to do.." And, truth be told, I didn't want to have to play Chutes & Ladders® or Polly Pockets® til I was blue in the face either. What I wanted was this --- some order, some structure, imaginations flourishing, bodies being moved, schedules looser than the demands of the school year, minds being stretched, a brother-sister bond being developed, and a little peace. Was I nuts? Was I hoping for the impossible? I don't think so.
I started by simply acknowledging that I wasn't going to let a few things happen. I would have them play outside every day, even if for a little while. I would not tolerate, "I'm bored" by simply pointing out all the things they could choose from to do inside and out (including a chore or two if they got desperate). I would be proactive with not letting their brains soften before school starts up again, which I chose to do by buying them a basketful of books from the kids' secondhand store, with an incentive of earning a star for every ten minutes of reading (and prizes at the end of the month based on their number of stars).
And you know what? It's going okay so far. Really. They've played outside pretty much each day. They've played together - and our learning to work together really well - as our neighborhood is pretty kid-free. I've seen both of them move from one activity to another instead of coming to me for ideas. They've earned some cool prizes. And I've only had to play Chutes & Ladders® and Polly Pockets® once, not bad.
Happy Summer, Moms & Kids!
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