We have two weeks left to our Summer Vacation. When the school year ends, I always make a beautiful picture of how the summer will go. In my head, I have goals for what we will accomplish in our time free from school schedules and extra-curricular activities. It is such a beautiful portrait in my head. Now with two weeks left, I have a confession – I have accomplished none of the goals I set out with in June. Not one! I am sitting on the couch this evening in the land of mom guilt. How did the summer go so wrong? Let’s look at my goals and our reality.
Goal #1 Prioritize Reading and Writing
The plan was to have the older girls read a book a week and write in a journal at least 3 times a week. I planned on the little man learning to write his name and to color at least one picture every day. It did not seem like an unreasonable goal given all the hours in a day. But alas, we did not come close to accomplishing it.
Goal #2 Organize the Bedrooms
My children are pack rats. Every object that enters into our house is the most precious thing they have ever received. This type of attachment makes for very full bedrooms. I try to resist the temptation to go through and discard items on my own. My plan was to go through the rooms together, choosing a different area each week. While we kept the rooms relatively clean all summer, we did not purge anything. Not one thing!
Goal #3 Lots and Lots of Friend Dates
My children do not attend their neighborhood school. They attend a charter school about 15-20 minutes from our home. The result of our charter school life, my kids have friends that live everywhere. My girls cannot jump on their bikes and make it to their friend’s house in 5 minutes. My plan was to make an effort to keep them connected to their friends all summer, scheduling friend dates at least every other week. I managed one friend date for my 7 year old, but not even one for my 12 year old. Why is it so hard? I’m not sure, but it is.
I confessed my short comings. I laid out all my goals and how they did NOT happen. My mom guilt is so real. The question is “Should I have guilt at all?” I will admit I did not keep up with the priorities I set in June. Nor did I keep my kids busy every moment of the summer as if my primary responsibility is that of camp counselor. What did I do instead?
Reality #1 Let the Kids Set the Tempo
I let my kids set the tempo. We stayed up late and slept in. We crawled into our day wearing pjs until noon, while playing Legos and watching videos. We played in the pool or at the park or we stayed indoors playing with toys or working on art. The school year is so busy. They spend 7 hours a day in focused activities. After school there is homework, dance, girl scouts. Add in morning routines, bedtime routines, meals, and chores. Our life is super scheduled and super full. It is okay to give them a break from the schedule. Their entire adult life will be full of responsibilities and schedules, if I can give them a few summers where the pace is slow; I consider it a gift. Lazy summers are not easy to come by, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work from home and give my kids a slower pace in the summer. Instead of feeling guilty about it, I need to embrace it as a choice and a gift.
Reality #2 Lots of Family Time
Summer gives us the opportunity to spend tons of time together as a family. Vacations up North at our cabin. Days on the lake fishing. Dinners on family patios. Drives to get ice cream. Snuggling watching TV. Less running around keeping up with the schedule means more time together just hanging out. Activities do not have to be exciting to be special. It is my hope that when my kids are older, they will remember their childhood as full of laughter and love, ordinary days spent together.
So at the end of the day was our summer ruined by being unplanned and unscheduled? I don’t really think so. I did what we needed as a family. I kept the pace we needed to rest and recharge. The world is not coming to an end tomorrow because I do not have full reading logs and journals sitting on the dining room table. Cleaning and organizing is a never ending chore, we will get it done. It did not all need to happen in the summer months. I do wish we had more time with friends, but we had plenty of family time and that is fun too. Releasing the mom guilt is hard. The “should haves” can be overwhelming, but who really decides what we should do? Moms take a step back and read the room. What are your kids longing for? There is a chance what you think you should be doing is the opposite of what your family truly needs. We have two weeks left. We will read a little, play a lot, and spend the last full week vacationing together as a family. By the first day of school we will be rested, recharged, and ready to tackle the school year – no mom guilt to be seen.