Olaf and I are busy high-fiving because it’s summer! This teacher-mommy is so ready for two months of adventures and days with a slightly slower pace.
Our school year runs on a pretty strict schedule and routine in order to get everyone, everywhere, on time, with everything. Because my kids are fairly young (two just finished Kindergarten and one is still in preschool), I make sure most of their after-school hours are filled with playing outside or inside safely and freely. It’s SO important to make sure they play, that I never want to take away the little free time they have to teach new chores.
Don’t get me wrong, our kids help out around the house a lot — and do a fair bit for their ages — but learning NEW skills and chores takes time, energy, and patience that neither children nor adults have left at the end of a school day. Enter summer: a break from the routine and some wiggle room for time is just what we need to allow a LOT of learning this summer.
Our summer bucketlist has our regular adventures: the zoo, the aquarium, splashpads, swimming, visiting their great-grandparents, etc. But with a little prompting, the boys excitedly added the following items to our list.
Learn to make our own packed lunches. While the boys regularly whip up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on their own at home, I am typically the architect of lunches packed for school or other adventures. This summer, we are going to work on this skill, highlighting what makes a complete and healthy lunch and how it should be packed for the day.
Learn to use the skillet safely. Cooking with mom happens occasionally during the school year, but I’m typically on a deadline of sorts or have multiple dinners going at once; however, the boys have expressed a strong desire to be able to make their own hot breakfasts and lunches. Mainly they really want to make scrambled eggs, pancakes, and grilled cheese solo.
Learn to sort the laundry. Correctly. I have helpers who change the washer and dryer and carry loads around the house, but I haven’t really taken the time to teach how to sort laundry. While I’m not the magician at clothes my mother is, I have enough knowledge to teach them about lights and darks, socks, and underwear.
Get better at folding and hanging up the clothes. The kiddos are proficient at folding socks, underwear, and towels to be put away. They can also make a nice pile of folded discarded clothing when we change into swimsuits at my parents’ house; however, we can all (myself included) improve our folding and hanging skills. Except my husband. He’s the pretty much the folding king around here.
Practice chopping vegetables for cooking. A few years ago, I purchased a set of kid-friendly knives that have allowed the boys to roughly chop vegetables and other items during food prep. The older two have gotten better and better, and it’s past time for me to allow them some closely supervised real knife practice. If the seven year olds on MasterChef Junior can do it, then I guess I have no excuse.
Learn at least three new games. Card and board games seem to be a lost art these days. But my kids love to play them, and I do as well. We often enjoy a quick game before bedtime, but I have NO patience to teach a new game at the most difficult time of day. So hopefully we can add a few new games to our rotation.
Spend multiple days on craft projects. My kids LOVE a good craft project. I often find them elbow-deep in our recycling bin, picking up boxes or other discarded items to create new and interesting things with tape, construction paper, markers, and sheer imagination. I vow to let these projects sit on the floor somewhere for multiple days and allow them to really go to town. Maybe somewhere I can close the door, though . . . .
Help out with handyman tasks to learn the basics. Confession: I am not very handy. Nor is my husband. But my dad recently retired and has a bit more time for handyman projects, and we just bought a nice old house that comes with lots of little tasks. So I’m ready to YouTube my way through some household projects with my little buddies acting as sidekicks. Or send them to their grandfather and let him show them the ropes.
Like most kids, mine want to do big things and be independent. They want to learn and help in as many ways as possible. And we need to let them.
So in addition to taking my children to the library, reading lots of books, counting the laps (and flips) we do in the swimming pool, and letting my kids generally be kids, they will also learn life skills. At the end of the summer, hopefully we will be a bit more independent. Ideally, they will also have some more confidence, better problem solving skills, and a greater appreciation for the amount of things the Mommy Fairy takes care of. They will be mastering new tasks, expanding their knowledge, and becoming more responsible kids. And doing it with a lot of sunshine and laughter along the way.