Monday, May 31, 2010

Summertime! Yikes!

I know most people hail the beginnings of summer with parties, happy smiles, and lazy days by the pool. As a SAHM, who works with her children at home during the off school hours, I find the unending rush of summer days to be something scary to dread, not celebrate. Yes, as my husband reminds me, I no longer have to drag my carcass and everyone else’s out of bed at 6:30 every morning, but that’s actually part of the problem. I know, other mom’s probably view my attitude like I’m Scrooge at Christmas, but I can’t help it. Let’s take a closer look.

1. No alarm clocks = No schedule.

Yes, I don’t have to roll out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn during June and July, but we also have no discernable schedule for the months of summer. I know, I can hear all of you now yelling that I could create one, but seriously? If someone isn’t telling me things have to be done at a certain time, they can so easily be put off. (Remember, I live a life of prioritizing; if it ain't screaming, it doesn't make the list.) Plus, any schedule we put into practice would be overrun by the trip to Grandma’s house, visiting friends to keep the kids occupied, lack of appointments that need to be kept, RWA National Conference, and visits to local attractions (again to keep the kids occupied). So we get to the end of July and I’m trying to figure out what I actually got accomplished since school got out, besides keeping children occupied.

2. No school = Children home 24/7

I’m not saying that school is a babysitter, but frankly, if they aren’t in school then I could use a nanny. I constantly have kids underfoot while I’m trying to write, do client work, handle business phone calls, and continue to do all those things I do when the kids are usually gone. They may not be working (I consider school to be a kid’s job), but I still have to. My frustration gets out of control pretty quick when I get interrupted every 20 minutes and am now expected to stop and mediate the fights that break out every 10.

3. I’m a Loner

Not only am I an introvert, but I thrive on time by myself. The biggest adjustment for me when I had my first child wasn’t even going without sleep (though that was painful), it was never being alone. Sometimes I felt like I was smothering, and the same is true for summertime. The hubby actually bears the brunt of this problem. I manage all day long, but the minute the kids go to bed, I lock myself in the bedroom and don’t wish to see anyone until daylight. Okay, so this is an exaggeration, but it happens more often than not. Poor guy. I’m sure there are times he wonders how he managed to marry a bear that hibernates in the summertime. :)

4. Battle of the Siblings

I’m a twin, so while I do have a sister, it isn’t like most sibling relationships. Our nearest sibling, a brother, wasn’t born until we turned 18 years old. Although I know that my sister and I fought, especially as teens, it was unusual rather than the norm. But it seems like my children do nothing but fight, and it gets worse the more time they spend together. Apparently I haven’t figured out the secret to sibling management yet. My best tactic is to send them to their separate rooms so we can all have some peace and quiet for a while. Oh, and we do have “rest time” every day of the summer. I require my children to spend an hour every afternoon reading in their beds, so we can have some time out from each other. Plus, it gives me an excuse to make them read while they’re out of school. But not an hour after they’re back up, the bickering starts once more…

So no, summer is not my ideal time of the year. And this year, summer is lasting an extra week longer. Instead of going back to school the first week of August, they won’t return until the second week (I think because of budget cuts). The teenager I hired for the past few summers to keep them for one day a week so I could have a break has moved on to college, and I haven’t been able to find another. This might be a long summer indeed.

So, do you have any suggestions for this grumpy summer bear? I’d especially love any tips on handling the fighting, and keeping them occupied without having to stand over them 24/7 every day.


P.S. Check out the write-up about the Heart of Dixie Romance Readers' Luncheon over on Barbara Vey's blog.


Liza said...

Glad I'm not the only one who likes to have time to myself.

Have you thought about summer day camps in the area? Would keep you on a schedule and still get the kids out of the house with something they would enjoy.

Love the 1 hour of reading time a day for the kids. That would have been my favorite hour of the day when I was a kid.

Diana Layne said...

Hi, Angel, it's my understanding lots of work-at-home moms dread summertime and any school vacations, lol. I, otoh, have kids 24/7 year round cuz I homeschool. (Six of them). With the last two, who are spaced pretty far apart from the others I'm having more trouble with fighting between them and I think that's because I have more outside interests now and want more time to myself. It's my experience that kids fight to get your attention, and negative attention is better than none. The time out reading an hour a day is a good idea, but you might consider even just 30 min a day spent exclusively with each child, maybe talking about the book they're reading. I know, I know, more time out of your day but it might result in more peace and quiet in the long run. Just a thought. Happy Summer. :) (I don't like summer much either but because it's hotter than blazes where I live and as I've aged I don't tolerate heat so well anymore.)

Linda Winstead Jones said...

When my kids fought, they had to "kiss and make up." All boys, they did NOT like the idea. At all. My grandkids know I have the powerful ability to "take away every video game in the house with a snap of my fingers." That's an awesome power. :-)

But as someone whose kids are grown, I have to say. Enjoy the summer with them, and don't obsess about a schedule. They're growing up fast, and this summer will never happen again. I'm not saying you don't try to work at all, but cut yourself some slack when the schedule goes awry.

Linda Winstead Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gwen Hernandez said...

Danniele: Wow, you described me so well. ;-) My kids are old enough that they pretty much take care of themselves these days, though they do seem to find me most interesting the minute I sit down to start writing.

I like Diana's idea about spending some focused time with each of them (or both of them together). I also used to wear mine out with early pool time. Also, I would promise to play something with them if they were good for a certain amount of time beforehand.

Just know that it could be worse. Since we're moving this summer, my kids are out of school already, but won't go back until after Labor Day! :-)

Good luck getting through the summer!

Gwynlyn MacKenzie said...

As the oldest of seven, Angel, I can tell you bickering comes with the package; my one sister and I came close to murdering each other a time or two. We had to grow up to become friends.

I will, however, second the advice of a previous commenter; don't blink. Tomorrow they will be gone. Take the time now so there are no regrets and the ties that bind are strong when that moment arrives.

Discipline is necessary---kids really do need it---but don't forget to give lots of hugs. Soon those young'uns won't want you in the same galaxy let alone wrapped around them. The good news is one day they'll grow up, realize the value of a hug, and start giving them back to you.

Playground Monitor said...

You could always send them to Vacation Bible School at every church in a twenty mile radius. ~grin~ But then you'd just be driving all the time.

LJ's already suggested making video games disappear. iPods could disappear too along with the remote to the television. The hour of reading time could easily stretch to two or three or however long it took to reduce the fighting (I have kids; I realize you'll never stop it completely).

I remember days when I wished I could put shock collars on my boys so when they began to bicker, all I had to do was press a button and ZAP!

They do grow up quickly. And then the next generation comes along. My grandbaby is going to be four soon. FOUR! How did this happen?

Problem Child said...

This is why I only have one child. No fights to referee. :-)

I don't have much scheduled for AC this summer, because the new neighborhood has a pool and I'm going to try to learn how to write while keeping one eye on the child while she swims... Maybe I'll end up with a tan!

Elisa Beatty said...

I'm a teacher, so summer's my time to write!!!

Where we live, most kids go to various day camps for most of the summer (zoo camp, theater camp, art camp, sports camp, camp camp)...expensive, but it gives me that precious alone time for at least part of the summer!

Sharon Lynn Fisher said...

My daughter is not school age yet, so I'm not dealing with your particular challenges, but I feel your pain!

Summer in Seattle is GORGEOUS (all two months of it). Most of the other 305 days we're discovering new shades of gray. Therefore the pressure to spend every moment outside is extreme (and it doesn't get dark until almost 10). Those lazy days of summer translate into stress as you worry you're neither enjoying the sunshine enough, nor getting in enough writing.

Good luck with finding some peace and quiet time!

Angel said...

Heaven bless you, Diana! Having been homeschooled myself, I have the utmost respect for women who can do it. Obviously, I'm not cut out for it. :) Spending time with each one is definitely a good idea, although with work, etc., I don't have time to do each one every day. Maybe alternate days?

Oh, yes, LJ. When things get dire around here, my children get "unplugged". No phone, tv, video games, or handheld electronic devices (ipods, video games, etc). They do not like it, but I try to only use it for big punishments.

After Labor Day!!! Bless you, Gwen. I might have cashed in my sanity by then...


Angel said...

Luckily we have a friend nearby who is very generous with allowing us to use her pool, especially since her youngest is now a sophomore in college. So we'll be hitting the pool a couple times a week too. And its free, yay! And comes with adult conversation. :)

Yeah, the reason we don't do a lot of day camps is because we can't afford them. I try to do a couple of things that we can afford each year, but it mostly has to be free or close to it. My inlaws are kicking in some money so the oldest can go to church camp this year. There's 4 days without fighting. :)


Angel said...

Sharon, one suggestion for you to enjoy outside events while writing is to purchase an alphasmart ($200) if you don't have a laptop and take your child to a park that only has 1 entrance and exit. We don't have one of those near enough for me to use it consistently, but I try to do this a couple of times each summer. Plus, the alphie is nearly indestructible and runs hundreds of hours on just 2 AA batteries.

Since your child is so young, you could take her to a play place that has a small section for toddlers and make her stay in that area, or to a park that is clear enough that you can keep a close eye on her from the sidelines.

Take the alphie and write while she plays. Its not uninterrupted time, but she will be occupied most of the time.

I'd totally forgot about this! We may have to trek to a playground a few days this summer. We have one of the other side of town (35 minute drive) that has pavilions and most of the playground is in the shade.