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https://www.mother.ly/work/sahm-summer-schedule-plan

There is truly something magical about summer. The smell of hamburgers on the grill, the taste of freshly squeezed lemonade, the feeling of cool refreshing water on a hot day. I could live in summer forever.

As a child the anticipation of summer was overwhelming. I remember not being able to sleep the night before the last day of school! I have fond memories from my childhood about hanging out at the neighborhood pool, playing flashlight tag and exploring my world by bike. There was something refreshing about having nothing to do. It was freeing.

Summer was a time when I could explore the creative side of myself because I wasn’t tied down by homework or sports practice. But now that I’m a mom, I have a slightly different perspective. As my daughter’s preschool year has been winding down I started to feel panic inside. “What are we going to do every single day this summer?”

I’m a stay-at-home mom and although I chose this life, I was used to having things on our calendar. The fear of change has been creeping into my mind. During the school year, our days are often structured by my daughter’s preschool schedule and other toddler activities. A month ago, our summer calendar was blank.

Though I loved the freedom of unstructured days as a teenager, I was starting to dread this exact thing as a mom. So I decided to make a plan.

I drafted a daily schedule for our family. It may seem a little excessive, but I actually wrote it out. I added things like independent play time from 8 am to 9 am and family time from 6 pm to 7 pm. We printed the schedule and shared it with our children. I also created a list of some easy summer activities so if I heard “Mommy! I’m bored!” I had a plan for what we could do. This immediately calmed my fears.

I’ve learned through the years as a stay-at-home mom that if we have too much freedom in our schedule we don’t function well. My kids enjoy structure. I enjoy structure. My daughter often asks “What are we going to do tomorrow?” I think she asks so she can look forward to something with excitement.

I guess it’s true: Humans are creatures of habit. We like consistency and knowing what to expect—even kids. So while scheduling our summer relieved some of my fears, it also made me realize that there’s a con to scheduling your life out.

I don’t want my kids to miss out on the spontaneity of life. The freedom and magic I felt as a child with nothing to do. It’s exhilarating. Dare I say it’s even a necessary part of childhood. And I don’t want to rob my kids of these same experiences.

In today’s world, we are always so busy. Our to-do lists seem to never end and we rarely find the time to just sit and relax. When was the last time you did nothing? I know for myself, I sometimes have to remind myself it is okay to take a break. That its okay to just sit and think about nothing!

Sure we can’t go on like that for days, but we need to allow some flexibility into our summer overall. I want my children to have the same fond memories I have about summers as a kid. I want them to explore new places, try new foods and experience true spontaneity.

But, a totally unplanned summer is not realistic for us. (Hence my schedule. 😉)

As a new parent, I quickly learned things rarely went as a I had planned. Parenting required much more patience, flexibility and creative thinking than I first anticipated. We can use these same tools when planning our children’s summers. We don’t have to always make the right decisions and plan the perfect things. Sometimes the best things in life are unplanned.

If my kids want to stay outside and run through the sprinkler until bedtime, why not? I don’t want to be so rigid that I miss out on these precious moments with my children. Plan, prepare—but also be flexible. I think that’s my new summer mantra.

Children are naturally carefree. What if we as adults embraced this? How different would our summers be if we left room for some magic, too?

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It wasn’t the most exciting life, but it was mine. I spent weekends exploring new places with my husband. We’d go on mini road trips just enjoying the journey. Sometimes we’d meet up with friends, get coffee or go out to dinner. I loved to spend my evenings reading books and crafting. Sewing was a favorite hobby, with my sewing machine in its place of honor in the spare room.

Then my sewing nook was turned into a nursery and all my crafting supplies were packed in a box. That was okay though because I wouldn’t have much time or energy for sewing projects with a new baby in the house. Weekend adventures and brunch dates were put on hold for a while because taking the baby out was a challenge. At least I could still read my books while feeding or rocking my little one.

Then my second baby came along two years later. With a baby and a toddler in the house, reading time was at a premium. My oldest was an energetic child, always keeping me on my toes and the baby didn’t sleep well. When I did have a few minutes to myself, sleeping was the priority. My sewing things were still packed away, and outings were more exhausting than fun.

Fast forward six years. My hobbies, adventurous outings and late-night visits with friends were still packed away, pushed aside. All my “hobbies” now centered around my kids, my husband and the housework. In the rare moment that nothing required my attention, I felt lost, unsure of what to do with myself. I’d finally get free time and not have any idea what to do with it.

I had every reason to be happy. I had two wonderful kids, a loving husband and a good home. It just didn’t feel like enough. I felt empty. I was a person with no substance. I felt like I needed something more, something to fill that free time. Something just for me.

Then I joined a new playgroup. People were asking me about myself, what I liked to do, my opinions on random topics. I didn’t have any answers. I hadn’t seen the latest movies or read any recent books. I barely kept up with the news and hadn’t done anything interesting lately.

That’s when I realized the truth.

All the things that had made me an individual had faded away in the sleepless chaos of having young children. My home life was who I had become. My entire existence centered around taking care of my children, keeping the house and my husband.

I realized then that I was lost. Not in a physical don’t-know-where-I-am way, but my individuality had gradually faded away as I created my family. I needed a hobby or interest that was just for me, something of my very own. As a mother, I felt like I needed to sacrifice for my children and put all my focus on them. But that wasn’t working. In giving up all my individuality for my kids, I was doing them a disservice.

Taking care of myself helps me take care of my children better. Life is easier and more enjoyable when everyone is happy and healthy, myself included.

It was okay to give up my hobbies and interests while my children were young. Trying to balance small children while keeping up hobbies would have been a lot for me to handle. But now that my kids are older and a little more self-sufficient, it’s time for me to rediscover who I am as an individual and do something for myself.

I’ve been reading books again and pulled out my dust-covered sewing machine from its hiding place. I watch makeup tutorials and experiment with cooking. Sometimes I get my kids involved and we go hiking or cook together. I feel more at peace—like I’m myself again.

It still isn’t easy. Life with a family rarely is. There are times a sewing project takes three times longer than it should or I go a few weeks without picking up a new book. When my kids are sick, or soccer season starts, these things often take priority.

The difference is that now I know how important it is to make time for me in between all the craziness life has to offer. I once again have interests and hobbies. Next time somebody asks about me, I know I’ll have something interesting to share.

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http://www.babycheapskate.com/2019/07/26/49-off-little-people-share-care-safari-interactive-lights-sounds-playset/

screen-shot-2019-07-26-at-6-56-39-amThis Little People Share & Care Safari Interactive Lights & Sounds Playset is a great deal at Walmart.com right now.

It’s 49% off at $30.69.

Shipping is free when you spend $35 or more.

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC’s disclosure policy for more info.