I love summers, I really do. As the stay-at-home wife of a teacher, summers are a great opportunity for us to spend a lot of time together as a family. We travel, which we can’t do much together during the school year. We visit parks and museums and try to get outside when it’s not a trillion degrees. We swim and play.
But each year I also realize how difficult it is for my toddlers to adjust to our no-schedule summers.
From a fairly rigid week – two days of Mother’s Day Out, one day of Bible study, church on Wednesday nights, and 8 p.m. bedtime – to a lackadasical schedule that has us darting here and there, being with family often, and leaving no expectations of what might happen throughout the day. This spells TORTURE to a toddler/preschooler who thrives on knowing what’s happening each minute of every day. (The first thing my daughter asks in the mornings is, "Where are we going today?")
And every summer I find myself struggling with disciplining our strong-willed girl (now nearly 4), yelling in anger, wishing for an hour to lay down and read a book. As Libbie’s brother, David, is learning to talk now at 19 months, we’re entering new territory with him as well.
My husband and I are very laid-back, which makes it feel like we’re in constant conflict with our schedule-craving wee ones. I don’t want to plan each day during July. I don’t want to explain to my child yet again why daddy is home and not at work. I don’t want to answer questions about when Christmas is coming again when it’s 103 outside.
But I find, as always, that our quality of life almost always comes around to my attitude and my behaviors more than it does my childrens’. If I stay calm and in control, they will settle down. If I’m willing to make a plan, they are 900% more content. If I write out ideas for three meals a day and shop for the groceries, meal and snacktimes are less harried and happier – and produce much more pleasant kids.
Perhaps you’re nearing the end of your summer … or maybe you are out of school ’til Labor Day. Do you find parenting harder in the summer? Or is it all bliss on your end?