Summer is here and with it comes a host of splendid things. There are barbecues and swimming pools and long days where the kids can play outside right up until bath time. There's just a whole host of seasonal fun!
But there is one thing that summertime brings with it that is less desirable:
Unstructured time is much like regular time except that it moves at approximately 1/96th of the pace.
During the school year our week is tightly regimented. There are drops-offs to get to in the morning and pick-ups to make in the afternoon. For the little ones there are music classes, weekly playdates, and a host of pre-planned daily activities that give each day an easy-to-follow routine.
And that is a good thing.
In summertime, however, that structure falls completely apart. There's no school to build the day around, friends we normally see on a regular basis are traveling, and classes are out of session. All of which leaves us with approximately 14 hours a day that we need to fill.
When you have three little kids in the house there is really no expressing exactly how slowly FOURTEEN HOURS can move.
I armed myself way in advance in anticipation of the long days ahead.
I bought puzzles, filled the tires in the bikes, and purchased mega-tubs of sidewalk chalk. I cleaned out the yard, planned baking projects, and laid in mountains of blocks and arts and crafts material.
All of which got us through about three days.
So from here on, we are just kind of slogging along.
We wake up in the morning and Dad handles breakfast. Then I try to have an activity planned for the morning. We head to the pool for a couple of hours or maybe take a trip to the park before heading somewhere for lunch.
Which brings me to yet another horror of the unstructured time of summer. EVERY TIME YOU TURN AROUND it's time for another meal!!!
So we eat out for lunch so that I'm down to only providing dinner and snacks.
All this activity takes us through nap time. Nap time is a wonderful time because it buys me at least two hours. My oldest no longer naps, but he does engage in something called "quiet time". The rules of "quiet time" are simple:
1. DO NOT BOTHER MOMMY
2. DO NOT DESTROY ANY AREA OF THE HOME
Nap time comes to an end all too soon which gives us AT LEAST four hours to fill until Daddy comes home.
It's 3pm. I gather the children in the yard. I turn on the hose and lead a merry romp through the water. We laugh and we frolic about, full of all the joys that summer has to offer! Then my big guy has to go to the bathroom, so I take him inside, at which point my two other kids tire of the water and, unguarded, come into the house and begin dragging their soaking selves from room to room, leaving a trail of dirt and damp in their wake.
I drag them into their bedroom, change everyone, get them in new dry clothes and then consider what to do next.
It is now 3:17pm.
Only 3 hours and 43 minutes to go! Who wants to play "You run around while I sit still and time you" again?!
As I move about the world with my kids in tow during the summertime I often pass similarly harried-looking Moms, dragging their kids behind them.
I make a point to make eye contact with them, and inevitably we exchange a slight nod of the head and share a weary smile, acknowledging a simple but shared truth,
"It's Summertime, Mama, It's Summertime."