The first week of summer vacation always sucks. And I always forget that it sucks until I’m in it.
I mean, it’s great — no real schedule, much more relaxed down time, no car pools or kiss-n-ride, no packing lunches.
But it also sucks, because readjusting to having everyone home together all day is a slow process.
The kids are used to having seven or so hours away from each other, so when they’re together 24 hours a day for a few straight days, they get on each others’ nerves pretty quickly. Games turn into battles with children arguing over whose turn it is, sports turn into fights with children accusing each other of foul play or unnecessary roughness, and my patience doesn’t last very long when I’m constantly mediating. In fact, my patience is even shorter than normal as I struggle to get used to the constant low (or not-so-low) levels of noise.
They’re excited to play all day, they’re excited for free time, they’re excited by the possibility of daily play dates and pool time. But they forget that they still have some responsibilities, and I am not about to follow them around like a maid, cooking for them every twenty minutes, catering to their every whim, and constantly cleaning up their messes.
You want to do a painting project? Great! Have fun! But when you’re done, the kitchen had better bear no trace of your project, save your lovely paintings drying neatly on the counter top.
You’re hungry for the 578th time today? Okay, have some fruit. Oh, you don’t want fruit? Then you’re not that hungry.
You want to go to the pool? Great, me too! Help me fold this basket of laundry and put the clothes away and we’ll be able to leave that much faster.
You’re hungry for the 943,576th time today? Go ahead and make yourself something to eat. AND THEN CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF, THE MAID HAS THE DAY OFF.
Put your shoes in the shoe basket. Put your shoes in the shoe basket. PUT YOUR SHOES IN THE SHOE BASKET.
Hang up your wet bathing suits, do not leave them on the floor. Hang up your wet bathing suits, do not leave them on the floor. HOLY CRAP, HANG UP YOUR WET BATHING SUITS BEFORE I LOSE MY EVER-LOVING MIND.
I always forget how we struggle the first few days until we’re already in it.
This year is no different, with yelling and crying and arguing and apologizing and bargaining and do-overs. (And the children are having trouble too. Ba-dum-ching!)
I’ve identified the problem though, so now it’s up to me to find a solution:
I need to set clear expectations, communicate those expectations, and then stick to them.
I need to set the tone and have a little patience and a little grace for the people around me.
I need to think about what our days should look like and then make it so. We need a little fun time, a little pool time, a little quiet time, a little reading time, a little clean-up time.
We’ll get there and settle into a reasonable rhythm and enjoy these longer, slower days. I just have to remember that these things don’t happen instantaneously, they take some time.