Summer … Almost

As we pass by Memorial Day and enter June I find we are living in a strange Purgatory.

Summer is here, for all intents and purposes. The kids have summer swim team practice after school at the local pool. Baseball and soccer practices are ramping up and the minivan carpools are being sorted and finalized. The smell of grilling meats wafts through the neighborhood any day of the week – the chefs no longer content to keep flame-broiled goodness as a weekend only treat.

And yet, it is not summer.

School is still on. There is homework to be done. And in our county they saved all those wonderful basic skills tests to be given right now. Plus there are the band concerts, orchestra concerts, choir concerts, art shows, club trips to theme parks, and final functions that are scheduled for 6:30pm on the most inconvenient night of the week with unerring accuracy.

It’s like we are living two different lives at the same time.

It’s exhausting.

Continue reading “Summer … Almost”

An update on the Summer Screen Rules

Well, we are a week into summer vacation here in the SFC household.  As you may remember I posted about the Summer Screen Rules here and I thought I’d give an update.

It’s actually working!!!

Firstly, it helps that E is goal driven and the rules are clear.  If this is what it takes to get an iPad or movie in his hands then he is going to do it as fast as possible.   It also helps that H follows older brother lead in a lot of things.

The first few days E was up at 6:30am making his bed, doing his math page and reading his book.  He even mopped the kitchen floor and did a load of laundry while I was sleeping to complete his chores. (!?!?!?!)

Furthermore, he has not complained once about the tasks he has to do. He just does them and move on into iPad time.

And H is good with it, too.  He wakes up, does his imaginative playtime with E and a pile of Legos, makes his bed, and then I sit with him as he does his reading, his math from one of those great Brain Quest books, and his writing.  For his writing, since he is 6, he decides between a word sheet in the Brain Quest book and continuing to use his “reflections” book from school.  The teacher was having the students draw a picture and then write a sentence about the picture as their reflection of the day or weekend.  He really likes it. And he especially likes that he has a choice.

The chores we have for him are scaled to his skill level.  He dusts, he folds towels, he puts away dishes.  Not without whining, but once he gets going he’s good.  And the whining is getting less and less as this becomes “just how things are done.”

And then they sit and play the iPad.

The one area that hasn’t gone according to plan is playing outside for 30 minutes.  On the really hot days it gets hot fast.  The shutters are closed and the windows sealed by 9am.  If we don’t go to the pool in the afternoon, our practice has become to go outside in the evenings to bike or have a water fight.  The neighbor boys are home and battle can be epic.

But all-in-all it’s going really well!  Tomorrow Aunt Ellie comes and the day after Uncle Erik joins us!  We are going to take them to a mountain (also a heat avoidance maneuver) and show them around Basel.  And then a few days after they leave the boys are I are off to Edinburgh, Scotland for a week!

I hope your summer vacation is as relaxing as ours!

Counting Down to the End of School

We have 7.5 days of school left here in Switzerland and the boys are counting down. I am counting down too, but instead of checking the calendar 18 times a day and jumping around the house shouting about how I’m almost free like they are I am coming up with strategies on how to save my sanity.

One of the banes and yet saviors of my child-rearing existence is the iPad. It can hold their attention for hours, giving me needed time to myself, but it is such an attraction that they whine and plea and beg and generally make themselves 10th level nuisances until I give in. My thoughts lately have been how to use the iPad as a tool, but keep them from needed a 12-step program at the end of the summer.

A friend of mine recently posted a great meme from about rules for summer.

summer strategiesI think this is a great template for me/us.  It keeps some routine, responsibility, and non-iPad stuff in our summer days.

However, I think I need to expand on this list for my older son.  He is older and is capable putting more time into things.  This is what I’ve come up for him.

summertime rulesAccomplishing this list could take anywhere from 3.5 hours to 4 hours, depending on how quickly they can make their beds and do their two chores.  I think half a day without screens is ideal.  And if we go to the pool that’s even longer without screens.

I am hopeful that the Swiss culture of letting kids have their freedom will allow them to have a fun and free summer.

I also am hoping to be able to do some day trips with the boys and really take advantage of our location in Switzerland.  Who knows where we’ll go? Maybe a weekend in Paris? Maybe to the Matterhorn?  We’ll see what the boys choose.

Also during this summer the kids and I will be going to Scotland!  I am extremely excited!  We will be seeing  Loch Ness, Glen Coe, and Hadrian’s Wall just to name a few places.  Our base of operations will be Edinburgh so we will be seeing a ton of things in Edinburgh, too.

And we are having visitors!  My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are coming in the first part of July and then my parents are coming back to visit in the later part of August.

As I read through this post I am seeing that we are going to be packing a whole lot into the scant 8 weeks that they boys have off from school.  Now maybe I’ll be checking the calendar 18 times a day!