Sunday, May 18, 2014

Red Stick Summertime- Part One: Around the House


With the arrival of summer break upon us, I am already anxious over having two restless littles in the house and under foot.  

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having my kids all to myself during holiday and summer breaks.  It just seems that Aubrey is in a very good play stage, but I am her only playmate.  And Jude needs tons of interaction and stimulation to maintain his development.  Plus Louisiana summers are anything but mild, and it won't be long before I hear "it's too hot" from the mouth of my little girl.



Last year when summer began, I was so excited.  This was the first summer I had ever had a walking/talking child.  The years before, Aubrey was a baby, or I was pregnant and tired, or Jude was sick, etc etc.  I had expectations that last summer was going to be a wonderful time of new experiences and fun in the sun.

Well....

The thought and intentions were there...

But the fun? It was sparse and replaced by stress and frustration.

Turns out that even though Aubrey was walking, it was just as hard to get the kids ready and out of the house for anything.  I vividly remember sitting in their disaster of a bedroom and sobbing tears of disappointment and frustration wondering how much longer until school started back and I found glorious routine again.  

The days were so long and not at all the fun I thought they might be.  

What happened?

Well this year, I don't share that same excitement.  I feel kinda worried that a repeat of last summer's misery may be creeping around the corner.  So to counteract my worry, I decided to schedule some fun things for my family.  I think that was my biggest problem last summer; I didn't make a plan.

So I am making a summer planner for my kiddos and activities with them.  If you think that's kinda over the top, let me just put it this way:  Everyday we keep planners so that we can make the most out of our work and social time, so it's very reasonable that keeping a summer planner will allow us to make the most out of our time with our children.  



I have three categories in the planner: 
Around the House
Little to No Cost Around the Town Activities
Events and Activities In the Area

This post will be about activities Around the House.

I don't plan to fill every day with an activity away from the house. I think summertime should be full of backyard adventures.  And I want to have several types of activities.  Some that need my help so I get to interact with them, some that require them to be independent so I can get things done too, some that involve sensory play, some that create learning experiences, and some that are just plain fun.




So here are some activities for around the house:



Fingerpainting on the porch- the mess rinses right off with a water hose
Picking real food from the garden 
Pulling out the baby pool and sprinkler- makes for a great nap time
Setting up the Jump 'n Slide in the evening
Evening blanket picnic- simple things are extraordinary to littles
Playing with sidewalk chalk and bubbles- my favorite
Bean bag toss - making boards is on my hub's summer honey do list
Playdough playtime at the dining table- for days that are just too hot
Story time- not just for bed time; a good transition activity 
Dance Party - turn up the music and get the wiggles out before lunch and nap time
Activity sheets- tracing letters, counting items, matching colors
Teach age appropriate chores with chore charts- my other favorite
Have a tea party
Cooking Lesson- let them help make lunch or a snack
Hide and Go Seek- Jude and AL love "seeking" Lane and me
Bible Lesson- can be story time
Craft Time: Paint a canvas or complete a craft from store kit
Make a paper chain 



This is what I've compiled so far.  Honestly, the possiblities are endless for around the house play, especially with the help of Pinterest.  Some activities need prep and planning, but it's never a good idea to wait until there is nothing to do to find something to do (hence last summer).  I have a craft cabinet in my dining/kitchen area full of fingerpaint, acryclic paint, crayons, water color, chalk, playdough, construction paper, brushes, sponges, glitter, glue, stickers, activity sheets... you get the picture right.  It's our Craft Command Center, and I will be printing activity sheets and heading to Hobby Lobby and Michael's to make sure it's fully stocked by the end of next week when the final school bell rings.





A friend of mine helped me do a trial run during a play date with Aubrey Lane and her twin boys.  Thanks to a well stocked craft cabinet and a mom armed with dinosaur foam stickers, not only did we keep 3 almost 3 year olds busy for nearly 3 hours, but they kinda enjoyed themselves too.  We scribbled on paper with chalk and covered it with stickers, completed a quick construction paper craft found on Pinterest, and made a paper chain to countdown the weekdays of summer.  Then hung it all up for display in the dining nook.


 I don't care if my house looks like a preschool; that's where I am in life right now and I want to embrace it.  BLOOM! Right?

Don't get me wrong, there will be those rainy days where we pop in Tangled or Frozen for the 100th time and snuggle on the couch. I just don't want those days to become the standard summer day.

I want to encourage you (and myself) that this is a very precious season of your life.   Before you know it, that little prince or princess will be a teenager and off with their friends or working a summer job, and that special one on one time you had fingerpainting or singing nursery rhymes will be in the past.  Be present in these sweet moments because this season, like others, will be over before we know it.

If you have a house full of littles, I hope you found this post helpful.  You might have some ideas of your own and I would love to hear them.  And if you have older children from preschoolers to preteens, I'd love to hear your summer game plan for them because it won't be long before I am in that age group as well. 



Well I hope you had a good weekend.  Stay tuned for Part Two!

Angel