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our summer schedule.

Summer is well under way, and it didn't take long to become apparent that this mom needed a schedule in place or her sanity was going to bail. Most of the things we've been doing this summer are things we have done in the past, but each year I modify it a bit.  None of this is groundbreaking, and I can't even claim to have thought of the concepts myself, but they are proving to help us enjoy our time together this summer, which means no one has died. 

Step one: go to fiiz and get a caffinated beverage.  Just kidding...kind of.  Does it drive anyone else insane when your kids wake up and immediately say, "MOM! MOM! MOM! WHAT ARE WE DOING TODAY!?" Like I literally want to cut off my ears.  I started doing this last summer, and it worked like a charm.  Each day we have a theme, and I printed it off so Rhett could read for himself what the day would be and then tell Larsen.  The less I have to associate with my kids, the better.  Here is what it looks like:
This printout hangs on my magnet board in the panty.  Mondays we create something--play dough, slime, a fort, etc.  Tuesday we go somewhere--library, park, an arcade, etc.  Wednesdays we cook something--they help make dinner, cookies, a treat for a neighbor, etc.  Thursdays we do something for someone else--leave a note for the mailman, take a treat to a neighbor, walk to get an ice cream, but pick up all the garbage we find on the street, etc.  Friday we go swimming, to a splash pad, bust out the slip and slide, etc.  These aren't things that are hard or take a lot of effort, but having it written out keeps the kids appeased and my sanity safe.  

Before we do ANY of the things on our agenda, we do chores.  I also created a chore chart for the boys.  They took two seconds to make, and I had them printed and laminated.  I'm happy to share the template with anyone who asks.  The lamination was so they could cross them off as they completed them, and then I wipe them clean for the following day.  They look like this: 
Rhett is 8 and Larsen is 4, and these are all things the boys can do on their own.  Baylor just barely turned two, so he doesn't have one yet.  They know that we will not be doing anything fun until their lists are crossed off, so they are really good about waking up and getting to work.  We will see how long that lasts.  Larsen can't read, which is why I included pictures for each thing.  The homework page comes from scholastic books I bought from Costco, and the daily chore includes things like wiping baseboards, cleaning their closet, doing the dishes together, etc.  So far this routine is working well.  Stay tuned.  

The last thing I've implemented in our summer schedule is our neighborhood co-op.  This is something I've done in the past with other friends, and as long as the kids play well together, it works great.  The problem is if you hate one of your friends' kids the set up kind of blows.  The great news is, this entire group plays AMAZING together, usually.  The way we set it up this year is that each of us moms took a day.  Luckily we had five of us that wanted to do it, so we each took a weekday, but you could easily include more than five and just alternate weeks.  We do an every other day schedule, so one we week have the play group Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and the next week it is Tuesday and Thursday.  I've found that having it be every day each week is hard on the kids and the moms.  Every other day means that each mom only has the kids usually 2-3 times a month, and the kids don't get sick of being shuffled around.  My day is Friday, which means that I shuffle my kids off from 9-noon on the other days and have the mornings to get stuff done that I need to, and then on Friday I take everyone else's kids.  The struggle with this is that we could have included more moms in our group, but that means more kids to wrangle and a lot of our friends have brand new babies.  We didn't want the new moms to feel stressed or worried about having a houseful of kids with a new baby, but we still will call and invite their other kids when we can.  

A few things that make this work really well: 1. designated snack time, 2. a schedule, and 3. clear expectations.  My pantry is NOT a revolving door and if you let the kids eat whenever they want you will be paying out the nose for snacks.  The kids arrive at 9am and we play with the toys until 10:30.  Then we head in the backyard and play outside and eat snacks--capri suns, veggie straws, rice krispie treats, and of course smarty suckers.  At 11 the kids usually want to come inside, so they go back up to play with the toys, and I hose off the patio and put the snacks away.  At 11:40 we start cleaning up all the toys, because there is no reason for my house to be left a mess.  The kids are then given a popcicle or another snack that they eat on the porch as they wait for their moms once the toys are all cleaned up.  I expect my kids to know that they respect other adults and behave at all times--even if mom isn't there.  That means I hope that my friends will reprimand my kids if they need it, and also make them help clean up. It truly takes a village, and the fact that these kids really do all play so nice and help clean up is a testament to the moms raising them.  Well done ladies, and thanks for helping me keep my sanity.  Also the one liners they come up with are next level.  In fact today, Wally, upon finishing his popcicle and trying to finagle another one said, "My mom says that when we finish one we get another one." to which I responded, "Wow! Your mom is so nice!" and then Taelyn interjected with, "Ugh.  My mom is NOT nice." hahahaha! I reassured her that Rhett and Larsen's mom wasn't nice either.  I pride myself on being the meanest mom in the neighborhood.  Happy summer! 


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