Tag: what to do with kids in summer

Summertime Off-Gassing

Here in our house, the last day of school was exciting of course. We were all thrilled to be finished up with ridiculously early alarm clocks and lunches and homework and all the other stuff that accompanies a school year. It’s fine for a while, but by the time you reach the end, it is a veritable drag to the finish. Tupperware starts cracking, notebooks begin unraveling, and even our psyches hit the breaking point. I’m never sure whether we reach that point because we know we’re near the end, or whether we’re near the end because we’re reaching that point.

Here in our house the last day of school was absolutely crazy too. Tempers were flaring. Little infractions were seen as major affronts. Siblings were at each other. People were even making declarations of not wanting to go to Grandma’s together! Which if you knew the glory of Grandma’s, you’d understand the magnitude of such a statement. And my behavior was really no better. And I thought to myself, “oh man, there’s something wrong with us.” Seriously.

My friend Carrie, she who is witness to a lot of my parenting,  called it off-gassing, which by definition is the emission of especially noxious gasses. That description gave me great comfort.  And with that in mind I entered back into the fray.

When I shared  the story of our awful last day with a mama-of-3 friend of mine,  she grabbed my shoulder and exalted,  “US TOO! ME TOO! AWFUL! FIGHTING! CRAZY!!” And she too thought, “wow there must be something wrong with my little family as a unit and surely they’ll never rise out of this yucky, sibling fighting-filled state.

The next day things were a little better. Flare ups yes but not like that crazy last day where all seemed completely hopeless.

And I realized that transition from full on school to full on at home is a biggie. And that giant school’s-out-for-summer exhale is not to be taken lightly. And with each extra person in the house, that exhale will be even bigger still because each one bounces off all the others, around and around and around, until it finds a safe place to land.

So I gave myself a break. And I told my friend Kami that I would share this because we both thought others might want to know that this behavior isn’t indicative of something being wrong with your kids or your parenting or your family as a whole, rather just a little school’s-out-off-gassing. Which is normal. And can be remedied by some downtime, a few trips to the library, and soaks in some cool, clear water.

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CONGRATULATIONS RACHEL!!! Send me your address and I’ll get this in the mail to you pronto!

We are back at home after a (mostly) delightful  road trip and visits with kith and kin up and down the east coast.  After putting over 50o0 miles on our van we returned home tired but happy to be back in our own beds with our own stuff. Woo-hoo!

And then just one day in,  just post suitcase emptying, the cries began from one who shall remain nameless,  “what are we gonna do…”

Then I remembered the books I was sent by my publisher to give away to a lucky winner! The first one so beautifully and simply named, The Book of Doing; everyday activities to unlock your creativity and joy by Allison Arden.

Allison didn’t start out to write a book, rather she set out to unleash her own creativity which she feared had become dormant in all the mindless running around that  filled her days. She wanted to reignite that childhood feeling of making and doing and did so by approaching all her tasks with an air of creativity.  Says Allison, “The Book of Doing will open your eyes and mind to the energizing possibilities that you may have once taken for granted.”

It is delightfully whimsical in its layout – with simple and fun line drawings and light-hearted fonts – the kind of layout that makes me want to just browse it’s pages with a sketchbook by my side for jotting down and drawing my inspirations. And this book is FILLED with them for little kids, grown ups and families too.

From very simple things like making a list of people you love and things you love to do and then encouraging you to fit them into your schedule to learning code to mailing some random object just for the fun of it, this book will provide endless ideas and motivations for doing. And it not only gives you suggestions and projects, it also encourages you to come up with fun ideas of your own with simple prompts and an inspiring list of the “laws of doing”.  It is the kind of book that every family and couple and individual should have prominently placed on their table during these dog days of summer.

This book is filled with love and joy and creativity and it is, frankly, the kind of book I wished I’d written myself. But since I didn’t, I’m sure glad that Allison Arden did because truly, a book like this can only improve the joy factor wherever it goes. Just a few minutes spent perusing its pages by both child and adult alike and all cries of “what am I gonna do??” by both kids and adults alike will be banished forever from your kingdom.

As a kid, when we would cry bored, my mom would say, “Write a letter, read a book. Read a book, write a letter.”  When my kids whine that there’s nothing to do I tell them, “Boredom is the key to your next big idea.”  Or, when I’m feeling particularly snarky I say, “Bored people are boring.”

To win this copy of The Book of Doing, tell me something your own parents would say when you whined that there was nothing to do. Or something you’ve said to your own children when they voice their own concerns over the lack of activities.

Then I’ll pick a lucky winner on Wednesday August 8th so you can have your very own copy in these waning days of summer.


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The Last Monday

We are 25 minutes away from finishing the last Monday of the 2011/2012 school year. As always, it seems that the first day of school was simultaneously eons ago and yesterday. Our children have learned a lot, grown a lot, met new people, discovered new talents, and explored new ideas. It is a bittersweet time for most people I talk to – especially for my 5th grader leaving behind his elementary school and his king of the hill status and some of his friends who are scattering to different middle school this year. It’s definitely a sunrise, sunset kind of moment. Bittersweet for our homeschooled daughter too as the siblings are about to be around a lot more than before!

But here we are. Ready for one last week of school. Ready for the piles of half-filled notebooks and boxes of broken crayons and other detritus from the classrooms. And ready for summer and it’s long stretching days filled with long stretching shadows.

The kids can sleep in. Fill their time with activities of their own creation. Play. Read. Swim. Craft. Skate. Play. And sleep in some more. It is a time they all look forward to. Us too. Although admittedly there is a bit of a learning curve to filling all that time.

I’ve started what I call a “summer fun box”. It’s got random things in it that can be accessed when they’re seeking something to do. There are some craft books. Some word games. A wood burning kit and lots of little wood scraps. Cook books. A bag of marbles. That’s it so far. As I find other things that I think might spark the creativity I’ll throw them in there too.

Of course I’ll encourage a little idle downtime too. But too much of that only works for some of the members in our household.

How do you spark imaginations in your house? How do you let the days fall and fill? Do you have some tools of inspiring your kids onto creativity and exploration? Does idle time work for you and your kids?

I love summer. Even here in Texas. And I love the possibilities it presents for dreaming, creating and slowing down too. And I’m curious to hear how others walk this walk.

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Here comes summer!!

I know it’s a little ways off but it’s coming. Here in Austin we have the already 90 degree days to remind us of the fact and of course the school calendar tells us too. So it’s time to start pondering what will our family’s summer will look like.

Perhaps you’ve already signed up for camps. Or created some of your own. Perhaps you’ve purchased plane tickets or blocked off a couple of weeks for a family vacation.

Or maybe not.

Either way, it’s coming. And it will stretch out before us all whether we are working or not, camps or not, vacations or not.

So what will you do with it? What will you do with the longer daylight and the later bedtimes and the hot evenings that long for something to do? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to see? What books are on your reading list? How will you make it so you don’t get to the end and go, “oh shoot, we should have done/seen/gone…” or so that you don’t get to the middle and say, “Wait, what was that thing we wanted to do?”

A couple of years ago, my Future Craft Collective partner-in-making Kathie Sever and I created a thing we call the Family Summer Intentions and Inspirations Banner  for Craftzine. It’s pretty straightforward and offers a way of figuring out as a family what you want to read, where you want to go, who you want to see, what you want to do, and when you can fit it all in. You can make it once and use it year after year or you can make one each year, using a simpler layout. Ours is sewn but you can even tape and/or staple it all together if that’s more your style. The how of making it doesn’t matter. It’s the what that is the point of it all!

So take a look. Then call a family meeting and figure out your family’s summer plans

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