Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Plans

I've been dreading this Summer.  Not in the "what am I going to do with the kids all day," way that some moms do.  I'm just not really cut out for this whole joint custody thing.  When I got divorced, my kids were 4 and 6.  Other than the 3 times I left Savannah to be at the hospital with Lincoln, I had left my kids overnight exactly twice.  Once their dad and I left the kids with my parents and spent a night at a local B&B.  We were gone from them for approximately 12 hours.  The second time, I left the kids at my mom's house to go to a concert, and there was a huge blizzard and I couldn't make it back to her house that night.  Again, I was gone for approximately 12 hours.  So sending my kids somewhere, even to their dad's house for an extended period of time is not in my nature.  When they first started going, they never went for more than one night.  The week we (the kids and I) moved to Utah, they spent 5 days with their dad while I prepared for the move, then came home 3 times during those 5 days.  Up to this point, the longest they have spent with him, away from me, is a week.  They are going to spend two months with him this Summer!  I'm scared.

Generally when they go to California, it's a nice break for about a day.  I spend that first day being productive.  Then I start to get moody (or mean as my husband puts it).  I spend a lot of time watching tv or messing around on my computer.  I get very little done.  I'm not good at missing them.  This Summer, that won't be an option because my Bonus Kids are coming to spend the same two months with us.  I carefully planned it so that I drop my kids off and pick up the bonus kids on the same day.  Both exchanges happen in Utah, about 400 miles from where we live, so I thought this would be convenient.  I thought I was being smart.  Then I thought about it and realized that with this arrangement I don't get that day to be productive.  I don't get time to be alone with my husband.  I don't get time to switch over closets or do anything to prepare.  I'm 'even more scared!  Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to have that time with my bonus kids.  We don't get to see them nearly often enough, its just going to be different.

So, I decided that I need to be prepared.  In general, my outlook on kids is that they are easier to manage when they have something to do.  If you are on Pinterest, you have probably seen a Summer schedule similar to this.  I loved the idea, but wanted to change the Friday to our usual.  So I made my own, and put it in an 8x10 frame so we can use a dry erase marker to write our weekly plan on Sunday night.  Then I sat down and make a spreadsheet of activities for each day.  I figured since I have my kids for 3 weeks at the beginning of the Summer, and the bonus kids for 9 weeks, I really only need 9 weeks worth of activities and I can repeat the same ones with both sets of kids.

Next, I made each kid a daily to-do list and taped it to their bedroom doors.  The older 4 have the same list:

  • clean your room
  • make your bed
  • shower
  • brush your teeth
  • say your prayers
  • read your scriptures
  • read for 20 minutes
  • do a red chore stick
  • do a blue chore stick
Connor and Katelyn have the same list, but neither of them have read for 20 minutes or read your scriptures, and Connor only has to do a red chore stick. Red chore sticks are popsicle sticks painted red that each have a chore listed that has to be done daily (load dishwasher, feed the dog, etc.).  Blue chore sticks are the weekly chores (mop the living room, clean the tub in the kids bathroom etc.). The deal is, that they have to complete everything on their list before they can participate in the activity for the day.

My #1 goal for the Summer, other than not losing my sanity, is to help each of the kids become better readers.  So I knew that I needed a plan.  Thinking Thursday will include trips to the library, and reading workbooks, but I didn't feel like that was enough.  Then I found this Summer reading program on Pinterest.  With a couple of changes, it was perfect!  I printed off the banner pieces and hung the main one in our reading nook.  I gave each of the kids a bookmark (the printables includes 4, which is the number of readers I have).  I made a reading chart that has the kids names and a grid for stickers under each name.  They get a star sticker each day that they read 20 minutes.  Once they have 10 stickers they get to pick a prize out of a basket which I filled with prizes from the dollar store.

I'm feeling much more prepared and ready for the Summer.

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