Treasuring up this time, I have discovered, is strictly a discipline of my attitude.
In my summer blog-reading, I have come across quite a few posts on tips for "surviving summer" with the kiddos at home. Upon reading these, I have the general thought that I never want to be in the place where I feel like I need to survive summer.
But I admit, it can be a struggle. I am prone to those deer-in-headlight moments when I will do anything to peel the kids off my legs and engage them in something constructive rather than destructive. We have had days in this house when my kids have watched so much t.v. that even they don't feel like watching t.v. anymore. And I know that if we don't get out of the house in the morning, then our afternoons are unbelievably long and that dreadful hour before dinner is literally the slowest nightmare ever lived through. I relate with the mom who needs some additional survival skills to be equipped to handle children all day long, all month long, all summer long....
Aside: Can I pause here to say that for the mother of young children who is privileged to stay home or work from home (for instance: me) or the mom who has chosen to homeschool that this idea of having children home all day long is not just a summertime phenomenon?
Still.... I never want to be stuck in survival mode with my children. Because survival mode means I am not able to enjoy them. Shouldn't that be something that we mothers do best? Enjoy our children. If for no other reason than the reality that if we do not enjoy them, who else is going to?
Treasuring time with my children is a discipline of my attitude. It is my choice to see summer as a gift of time with my kiddos, or a dreaded pause in space which I need desperately to fill with some activity or other. I am not saying I am good at that whole celebrating the time we have with our children. But it does seem to me that the difference is a simple change in attitude. This time is an opportunity. It is precious. It is now or never.
Thus, my strategies for doing more than survive summer, for actually enjoying our final days of freedom from someone else's schedule (hence, school) are:
- Make time to be present - I don't just love these kids of mine, I like them! It should be somewhat evident to them that I want to spend time with them. They deserve some real time from me each day when I am present. Being present is also known as: not talking on the phone or attempting to zone out on the internet or otherwise trying to accomplish something while I am with them. I understand that Mommas have things they need to do, and the house sure doesn't clean itself. But my children are worth spending time with, and I want them to know it.
- Say "Yes" more often - In an energy-depleted state, I find myself wanting to say "No" all the time. I hear my friends saying "No" to their kids too, for simple things, and then I wonder if I am doing the same thing. When I say "No", I want it to matter. Like saying no to running around with sharp sticks, or to tying a leash around sister's neck. Those are bad ideas that require an emphatic parenting "No". But there are a lot of things we mothers say "No" to simply because we are being lazy. Summer is the time of year to say "Yes" to some of those activities that require more energy on my part. Like saying yes to getting out the paint. And yes to making a mud puddle in the back yard that will stand in for a kiddie pool. And yes to building forts and tents with every blanket or pillow that exists in the house. And yes to skipping rest time so we can go somewhere fun.
The thing is that when I do these two things, I am the one who actually benefits. My kids are content. They rest better in the afternoon, they watch less t.v., and they have fewer discipline issues. It is a win-win situation that hinges on my attitude. Will I choose to enjoy or to survive today?