Today is Monday. Mondays are hard on our family. The proof is in my coffee that’s now cold and has been sitting next to me since 2 PM. Weekends in our house are reserved for activity. It’s the only time all four of us (five if you count the dog, which we often don’t) are together for long periods of time. It’s also the only time Mommy feels strong enough to venture into populated places with children; she has a helper on the weekends. Our kids live for those days and honestly, we really enjoy that time too.
It does take us a day to recoup, though. Packing that into two days means no naps, bad sleep, food on the go and activity hangovers.
Mondays are a day for chair parenting. If the kids are heard arguing from a different room, it’s time for a blind judgement call. To be fair, they’re probably both responsible for it so chances are you won’t be wrong. Halfway through the summer, though, the oldest kids seem to have figured this out. Their creativity really comes into play then, especially if the youngest is too young to defend themselves.
I’m not an outside person, much to their and often my chagrin, so we aren’t outside a bunch during the week. It’s hard to work meals and quiet time into a day spent at the park. You have to allow for multiple hours in the hot sun to avoid meltdowns: “I don’t wanna go! You can’t make me leave! Please, please, Mommy, just five more minutes!” Meltdowns in public are something I try to avoid. Several times this summer I’ve had to remind the kids that the heat makes Mommy cranky. The meltdowns I speak of are not just theirs.
In the beginning of summer you can find town events to keep kids occupied during the week, but those fade quickly after the 4th. From then on you are the cruise ship director. Having this position suddenly thrust on you, after having someone significantly more qualified than you doing it for six weeks, is daunting. I’m at a loss for how to be their entertainer on most days. Honestly, I don’t think I should be. That’s what they have toys and siblings for. For all they know we birthed those siblings solely to give them a playmate other than us.
All jokes aside, we realize our kids just want to be with us. They want us to engage with them and join them in doing things they love. Usually, I’m more than willing to do that. Other days I just want to sit and watch them be creative while I play Candy Crush on my Kindle. I can multitask. Sometimes I can’t find anything to like about Shopkins or the plethora of bugs outside waiting for nice cool skin to land on. I don’t want to make them stay inside all day, but sometimes that’s all I have to offer.
To combat their absolute boredom, I’ve been working on a chore chart for my oldest and a potty/behavior chart for her sister. I tried to do it in a way that would teach them something valuable and lasting. We want to teach them the importance of financial responsibility and caring for others as well as for yourself. We want them to know the value of hard work and doing things for yourself. We want them to know the significance of respecting people. I realize they’re only five and two; it’s not like I’m having them mow the lawn or cook dinner (those were the oldest’s ideas). Apparently I nailed it because my 5 YO said, “Wow, Mom, I love it; it’s really colorful.” My 2 YO said, “Dood dob, Mommy; is booful.”
It took me three weeks to put this together and while creating it I learned something too. I learned I need to live and lead by example. I already know that principle, but it took looking at this to examine the ins and outs of how I was living. How can I expect to see good behavior when I stomp around screaming like an angry giant? Although we have organizations that we support, we don’t talk to the girls about them or why it’s important to support things like that. While they see me doing “chores” all day long, do they see me complain about it more than I talk about the importance of them?
Most importantly for our family, and not on their chart, when is the last time the girls saw me read my Bible? When is the last time I even read my Bible? I expect a certain set of values and morality and temperament to be present in all our dealings, but when I take the compass for those things away we’re merely grasping for those things and falling short.
I started thinking, what should be on my chart? What am I willing to be taught? Tomorrow that’s the new task to start, after I get over my own desires and take the girls to the park. I’m choosing to start this process by living out loud, and showing them their value.
What is summer teaching you? What’s on your chart?