Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

Three weeks until the public schools are back in session in my part of the world, but parents around us are already beginning to say it…even practically shouting it out to the world according to some of my homeschooling friends…They can’t wait for their children to be back in school and OUT of their homes. How does one respond to such a proclamation? Sympathy? Dismay? Pity?  Yeah, I’ve been in that situation too. If their children are present, I feel especially bad. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that not all parents are as naturally enlightened as I am  angel smiley #5118 , and not all parents choose or can conceive of homeschooling their children…it’s a societal thing. But celebrating? Really? What’s that about. I’ve always held my tongue. Usually these people really aren’t interested in my thoughts on the matter anyway. But I think that these moms are not only missing something really important, but even worse, they don’t even know it.

I’ve often wondered…why? Why do otherwise sane mothers who waited anxiously for each child to come into their home, who were…and are…loving and attentive to their children…Why do they suddenly feel such eagerness (even joy and celebration) to get them OUT of their homes…and so young. Perhaps I could understand it if the child were 30. But no, these are practically their babies they can’t wait to be rid of for the best hours of the day.

As I’ve thought about it, I have come up with my own theory of how this happens in our society today. I think that there are basically three developments which get short-circuited in families today. But first a little side note. I recently read an article written by an un-schooling mom, Sandra Dodd. I loved her graph! I agree, the amount of time that we generally need to spend with our children is directly related to their age…well, sort of. As they get older, guess what?!…Yes, they need less of our time. Not less of our love, not less of our concern for them, not less of a lot of things…but certainly less of our time. And this is true even if they are homeschooled. In fact, I think that this sort of age/time spent-with-them progression seems to have the best potential of development and happens most naturally in the home educated atmosphere.

Here is what I see happening. You finally come to that long awaited moment…the birth of your child. You gaze lovingly into the eyes of that sweet child and the world revolves around the two of you…well, your world revolves around your child…the rest of the world revolves (for a time) around the two of you. That sweet baby takes up practically every moment of your day…requiring your constant attention. Yes, mothers, we are exhausted, but for the most part, we really don’t mind…after all we have oxytocin helping us out (particularly if we are breastfeeding), and frankly, we are head over heels in love with our own child! Then the child becomes a toddler and life really seems to explode! Now you have a mobile child who really does need your eye on him at every moment…and usually by this time you have less and less of that precious oxytocin to help out…but by then you are hooked, you are fully in love with this child and really, you love his developing “independence” …though exhausting to you.

But what happens about the time that this child starts to need less one on one time? He can feed himself, he’s out of diapers, and there are even moments when he really can entertain himself…what happens? We send him off to school…or even pre-school. There he is entertained all day, each moment filled by directed activity. Just when life with your child is getting easier, just when you have some time to breathe, just at the point when children are able to start self directing some of their activity, we ship them off to have each moment directed by a system. They are short-circuited in their developing ability to self direct. Evenings are also filled with soccer practice, homework, music lessons…so much so that many families find it difficult just to have a quiet un-rushed dinner together. And then when school is out for the summer…what happens then? Suddenly the child goes from having every hour of the day directed to pretty much having zero hours of the day directed…but they have not learned to self direct their activities or make choices, and they have lost what ever ability had begun to develop. They are suddenly “bored”…not that they weren’t often bored in school, but this is different. So mom fills the summer with day camp, soccer camp, swim lessons, outings, etc. By the end of the summer (before the end of the summer…maybe 3 weeks before the end of the summer), she is exhausted…and so are the children. No wonder she can’t wait for the children to go back to school.

Another thing happens. The child, removed from the home, begins to lose the attachment to…and ability to get along with…his own siblings. So along with being a summer of running helter skelter trying to keep the kids entertained, moms have children who don’t quite get along most of the time. Yeah…recipe for disaster. I guess I can see why they can’t wait for school to start. But that brings us to the third thing that seems to get short-circuited. Mom never sees that her children really are old enough to self direct their own activities and worse, in her hurry to direct every minute of the child’s day, the best moments are lost.

Yeah, you homeschooling moms know what I’m talking about…those moments when you are just “doing nothing” together; those moments when you really tune in to the wonder and miracle of your child and the person she is becoming. Those un-rushed moments curled up on the couch with a good book together…or even the ones where everyone is busy doing their own thing and there is a sweet feeling of both quiet (…or not so quiet) industry and peace in the home. You watch the seasons come and go together. You feel and settle into the unspoken rhythm of your days…your own natural and peculiar family rhythms.

I think that Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin say it best:

Christopher Robin: I like that, too. But what I like most of all is just doing nothing.

Winnie the Pooh: How do you do just nothing?

Christopher Robin: Well, it’s when grown-ups ask, “What are you going to do?” and you say, “Nothing,” and then you go and do it.

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

“This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again.

“It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.

Winnie the Pooh: I like that. Let’s do it all the time.

(from The House At Pooh Corner)

Sadly, it so often just these moments which are missed or just too infrequent when we send our children away for 8 (or more) of the best hours of the day and bring them home stressed and tired…and with homework to be done. If you haven’t read this sweet little book, I highly recommend it. What follows this little interchange between Christopher Robin and Pooh is such a parallel to what happens in our society when public school systems take over and over-scheduling of our children and families begins.

Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking at the world, with his chin in his hands, called out, “Pooh!”

“Yes?” said Pooh.

“When I’m — when — Pooh!”

“Yes, Christopher Robin?”

“I’m not going to do Nothing any more.”

“Never again?”

“Well, not much. They won’t let you.”

You see, Christopher Robin is going away to school. His days of “doing-nothing” are pretty much at an end. I guess that it is this that makes me so sad when I see parents celebrating a little too loudly that their children are going to school. My heart aches for the moments that they are obviously missing (both the mom and the child).

So homeschooling moms, my advice in those moments when you hear someone celebrating just a little too loudly for comfort about their children going away to school…is to just be glad that yours are not. Take joy in what you have with your children around you (even on those hectic days when you almost understand the public school mother’s celebration). Sit back and breathe a sigh of relief that you have not entered your child and family into the rat race we call “school”. In our family, we like to have a “NOT back to school” celebration each fall. So celebrate. And then take joy in the “doing nothing” moments.

And if you are one of those moms who can’t wait for her children to go back to school, then I guess my advice would be to try hard not to let go of every “doing nothing” moment with your children. See if you can at least “schedule” your days so that those precious “doing nothing” moments don’t completely pass you by. And please…don’t celebrate so loudly…at least not in front of the children.


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Oh Summertime, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee for

  • the warmth of the sun-warmed deck under my barefeet as I sit swaying gently in my hammock chair.
  • the coolness of that same deck under those same bare feet in the shade of the covered porch.
  • the gentle breeze which blows softly bringing with it the sweet smell of the freshly cut fir that my tall sons and husband have recently cut and stacked.
  • the evenings around the fire pit with all of my children around me, listening to the popping of the flames, enjoying the fun of s’mores and roasted apples, and then the quiet moments gazing at the embers which glow in the darkness.
  • the smell of the cool evening breeze blowing softly through my open window as I drift off to sleep at night…and again as I wake in the morning along with the sounds of the birds ringing in the day with their many varied songs, and hummingbirds buzzing by.
  • the fresh, sweet, better-than-candy taste of just-picked cherry tomatoes as they fill your mouth with their warm spurting sweetness.
I love thee for
  • thy lazy carefree days. Thy leisurely mornings and un-rushed evenings.
  • thy lying-in-the-hammock afternoons…warm in the arms of my loved one, gazing at the blue and white skies peeking between the leaves of the trees overhead…drifting off for a late afternoon nap and then waking still warm in the sweet embrace of my best loved one.
  • thy beautiful colors splashing merrily out of the hanging baskets around the covered porches of our deck.
  • the day after day mornings of breakfast “in-the-air”…fresh fruit and yogurt eaten in the warm early sunshine and cool fresh air while gazing at the lovely trees in my backyard.
  • the beautiful light shows of sunlight which dance and reflect off of the leaves, changing the leaves on my alders from glowing green to white…and back again.
  • the family dinners spent leisurely, gathered around the table on the deck just outside the screen of the sliding doors to the kitchen. The laughing and teasing of my big almost-grown family.
  • the smell of warm grass and hay…freshly mowed.
  • the warm apple cinnamon smell of my hot herbal tea as I sit in my favorite spot in that well used hammock chair, under cover in the warm summer rain…listening softly…
  • the un-scheduled hours spent locked into the pages of a good book as the sun drifts lazily across the sky.
  • the pink and purple sunset peeking over the tops of the trees.
Oh Summertime…How I do love thee…

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Today we are canning cherries. It’s actually my first time canning cherries, though I remember eating my mother’s canned cherries as a child. The sweet taste of cherry bursting in my mouth on a cold winter’s day… the beautiful color of the ripe red cherries in the jar. A feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. After all these years, those cherries which long ago nourished my body, now nourish my soul as I remember…

A flood of memories wash over me whenever I get out my water bath canner or my pressure canner. I remember canning with my mother and my grandma. I remember the year that I helped with the tomatoes on the morning of my first prom. I think I did get most of the red stain off of my fingers before the dance that night, though my fingernails retained an light orange hue.

I remember shelling peas with my grandma…that was her favorite. She loved fresh shelled peas. I remember going to Grandma’s to “help” her snap and can some green beans a few months before my wedding. She purchased all of the beans, lids, and jars and then insisted that I take half of the finished jars for my new home. She not only made sure that I had some food storage on my shelves as a newly married wife, but by teaching me the processes of canning, she has helped me to nourish my family years after she has passed on.

I remember those beautiful green jars full of beans on the pantry shelf in our first apartment. Well…I guess it was really a linen closet, but there was no room for them on the kitchen shelves in our tiny kitchen. In retrospect, that’s where I remember my mother keeping her canned goods as well…in the linen closet.

Looking back, I realize that my mother and my Grandmother had planned that summer of canning before my marriage particularly to make sure that I had canned goods to fill my shelves after my upcoming marriage. I also remember how I was “too busy” to help can the apple pie filling. My mother was so frustrated with me…something I didn’t understand then. I had thought that they had plenty of help that day…and I had fun things planned with my fiance. I also remember that I did not have apple pie filling on my pantry shelves that fall. Another lesson taught…Little Red Hen style. But it makes me smile all the same.

I remember Grandma coming to my home to help me can the peaches that were falling on the ground from the tree in the front yard the first Summer after I was married. It was the first rented home that we lived in that wasn’t an apartment…one with a yard that was our own and a nice big kitchen. In my memories of that day, I can almost still feel the cool linoleum under my bare feet and feel the air from the gently whirring fan that we had going. This was late summer in Utah and I don’t remember that we had an air conditioner. I can almost see my grandma sitting at my kitchen table as we prepared the peaches for the canner.  Oh how I miss her!

Was that the year that she have me her dented old canning funnel? …or did she give that to me the previous year when we canned those beans? I remember that funnel for years ever after. I love that old dented piece of aluminum! I use it every time that I bottle fruit or vegetables for my family. I wonder how many members in my family (my own and my Grandmother”s) it has helped to nourish over the years? The joy that I get from using this dented old piece of aluminum reminds me that it is the simple things in life which ultimately bring the greatest joy.

I remember canning for my little family. Keeping my little ones entertained while I bottled the fruit that we would share in the cold winter months. Mostly peaches and pears…I liked to put a cinnamon stick and some red coloring into the pears to make cinnamon pears. The color was so pretty and the children liked them. I remember the tangy smell of sweet applesauce on the stove on a cool fall day…perfect on a slice of fresh warm bread!

I remember the first years after we moved to a rented home with some land around it…how tickled I had been at the blackberries which grew wild around the place. We did plenty of jam those years.

I remember the year that Grandma and Grandpa and Mom and Dad brought peaches to my Washington home from Utah…7 or 8 boxes. We worked in my brand new little kitchen…our first home that wasn’t rented…our own home. We all worked together and soon had every peach in a jar. It was a big yield that year, I think we got 14 quarts to the box. I think that there are few things as beautiful as a row of freshly canned jars of peaches…still warm from the canner, with all of the lids merrily popping out their little musical “pings” at intervals! What a happy sound!

I remember the year that I was 7 months pregnant with my fourth child when it was time to can the fruit. I canned 14 boxes of fruit in two days…seven boxes each of peaches and pears. I got up in the cool of the morning long before the children and got a system going…I’m good at that. I think I had 3 or 4 canner loads done before I had to make room to prepare breakfast for my little crew. I worked ahead and took breaks to read to my little crew in between batches of peaches which needed peeling. I canned late into the evening. My husband helped when he got home from work. And then we sat afterward to gaze at the table full of beautiful jars as we listened to them ping out their merry little songs.

I did tomatoes that year too. Later the following spring, I remember feeding those canned fruits to my baby as her first foods…peaches and pears which outdated her birth. Just one among many things which were prepared for her in our home before she was born.

I remember the years as my children got older and started to be of some real help with the canning. My favorite was green beans. They would ripen in the garden a canner load at a time. A nice easy pace. Every few days we would pick, snap, and can a canner load full of beans. The jars on the kitchen counter grew larger as the weeks went by. I remember how I would sit on the back porch with my little brood of children…my own little quiver full…and together we would snap them into shiny stainless steel bowls; the littlest one with his toddler fingers clumsily breaking the stems of the beans…often with half of the bean still on the stems. This was something that even the youngest could do without too much trouble…I just had to watch for the occasional stem which got tossed into the wrong bowl and rescue the longer pieces of bean that got left on the stems. What sweet summers those were!

Today, we are canning cherries…but in my mind and heart, we are canning so much more than just cherries.

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Note: This is the second of a two part blog. You can find part one here.

Do start “strewing“.

I love this term. It was coined by a home schooling, or rather an un-schooling mom, as a way to identify her method of creating a rich environment for her children. Look around your home. What is there that is interesting for a child to pick up, look at, explore? Look at your children. What things are they currently interested in? What things might they potentially be interested in? What things might you put in each child’s path that might grab their attention and give them something to do or to think about? Perhaps a book from the library on how to play chess? Maybe some drawing materials and blank paper? What if you set up a small easel in the corner with some watercolors close at hand? You get the idea. Find these kinds of books and materials and just “strew” them (or strategically place them) on the end table, on the sofa…wherever your child might “stumble across it”. Casually place an interesting looking puzzle on the kitchen table after breakfast has been cleared. Better yet, start working on the puzzle and see who joins you. Purchase an inexpensive set of horseshoes, badminton, or croquet and make it available to your children. Start “strewing” and then sit back and watch…or join in! It’s really quite fun!

Do limit screen time.

Now that you’ve created a rich environment for your children, the last thing you want is for them to fall back on the old standby and spend hours with their faces glued to a screen. I know how that is. Whenever a screen is turned on in our home, there is some sort of magnetic force which automatically pulls all children within a hundred yards….sssfffffttttt…can you hear the sucking noise? Yep, there they are all with their faces glued to the screen. It doesn’t matter whose turn it is on the computer, they all have their faces glued to it. In a way, this is not all bad, at least with that many faces watching, it is less likely that the one on the computer will get into too much trouble…but still, not the best choice for too long. So we limit screen time. No TV or movies at all during the day, half an hour at the computer per child for games. If they are writing or using the computer as a tool instead of as a toy, they get more time.

Do have some read-aloud time as a family.

Do read to your children regularly. Choose great living books which are above their “level”; that is, choose books that they would consider hard to read. Read something they love. Read something YOU love…I refuse to read aloud a book that I hate. Choose something that may spark an interest or inspire them. After I read Little Britches to my children, one son spent the next weeks reading everything he could get his hands on by the author, Ralph Moody. Read about heroes…real heroes. Read classics like Where the Red Fern Grows and The Yearling or Laddie…A Little Princess, Heidi. (I’ve got to get the good books section of this blog fleshed out!) You get the idea. There are so many wonderful books to choose from. Share the magic with your children! At the dinner table each day, talk about what you have been reading. Discuss the characters. Is there someone in your life who is like a character in the book you are reading? What do you like or dislike about the characters? What do you learn from them? Which ones do you want to be like?

Do encourage lots of Summer reading.

Along with reading to your children, encourage them to read for themselves. Summer is the perfect time for hanging out in the hammock with a good book, or sitting in the backyard tree with a good book. Good books are appropriate nearly everywhere. Make a trip to the local library a regular part of your week. Let the children choose freely. Also choose for them some things you would like to encourage (for “strewing” once you get home). Get them involved with the Summer Reading Program if your library has one…or have a (not TOO structured) family Summer reading program. Keep a list on the refrigerator of suggested books. Keep another list of books your family has read and let everyone add to the list as they finish books. See how many books your family collectively reads over the Summer. I used to occasionally read just the first few chapters of a great book to my children and then leave it for them to pick up on their own if they chose.

Plan spontaneous fun.

Yeah, you read that right. I said plan for spontaneity. While you are at the grocery store, pick up some bubbles that you can bring out on an afternoon which needs a little livening up (or find a recipe online). Pick up some drawing materials or watercolors and stash them away to bring out at an opportune time. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting things which have the potential of livening up the day. This is a little like the concept of strewing, except that you keep these things tucked away and pull them out as a spontaneous surprise for your children to enjoy.

Do use music to set the tone in your home.

Once you’ve eliminated the screens and noise that comes with them from your home, you may want to sometimes replace that with music. Use music to set the mood in your home. If you want a peaceful atmosphere, play music which is conducive to that. If you want a more lively and upbeat atmosphere, then put on some music. We use lively music in our home whenever I am trying to encourage everyone to get the house tidied up. It gets everyone moving.

I love using music in my home. Often, the children do not even really notice it…and then I will hear them humming along. And while you are at it, maybe Summer is the time to get out that old guitar and dust it off, or buy an inexpensive ukulele and learn with your children how to play some simple chords.

Do set the example for them.

Children need models in their lives. If you don’t like the activities that they are choosing, perhaps you might look at how you spend your own time. Do your children regularly see you trying new things? Learning something new? Reading great literature? Spending time doing something you are passionate about? Do you share with them what you are learning and your excitement over the things you are passionate about? Maybe Summer is a great time for you to discover…or rediscover…your own interests and passions as well.

Enjoy your children.

Last but certainly not least, enjoy your children. Remember why you brought them into the world and into your family in the first place. Give them a hug as they walk by. Tousle their hair as you walk by them.  Get physical in playful ways that show them you love them and that you are glad that they are home with you. Children grow up so quickly. The hours that you get to spend with them are really quite short comparatively. Cherish each age and stage that they pass through. Look into their eyes and really see the wonderful person that is there. Treat them as the wonderful beings that they are. Don’t try to prod, poke, or manipulate them into being someone else, just love them for who they are right now. Help them to discover their own interests and passions. And then get excited about those things with them. Love never fails. Love is probably the most empowering thing in a child’s…or any person’s life. Just love them…just enjoy each moment with them.

End Note: …and if you find that these ideas work for you and you find that you really do enjoy having your children at home and by your side after all, you might consider home education this fall…just sayin’.

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Note: Because of its length, this blog has been published in two parts. I like the second part best! Don’t miss it.

Okay, it’s been almost one full week since public schools released the children to their families in our part of the world. I’m starting to hear it almost everywhere I go…”I can’t wait for school to start again.”…no, not from children…from their parents, usually mothers. I must say that I sympathize. There are some summer days when I too cannot wait for school to start again…for different reasons. Not so that I can rid my home of all these pesky children who live with me, but so that the neighbor kids will go back to school and I can have my children to myself again. I’ve had to make rules and set limits on how much time is open for the neighbor kids to hang around. I’ve had to set limits to what time they may come knocking at our door each morning. I know….I’m sounding like the summertime grinch and you are wondering whatever happened to the Kool-Aid mom. Well, don’t look for her here, she doesn’t live here. No, this mom likes lots of time with her children. Oh, I don’t mind play dates here and there…on my time frame, it’s just having the neighbors over all day, every day, and at all hours that I object to. Okay…in honesty this isn’t so much a problem anymore. After many summers, the neighborhood kids have learned the rules and also understand what kind of behavior is expected in our home, so summers glide by pretty smoothly.

But for mothers who are already at their wits end with having their own children home for the summer, perhaps I can offer some tidbits to consider. Oh, I know, this “advice” is coming from a strange quarter. After all, what public schooling mom wants to read what a home schooling mom has to say about their summertime woes? But bear with me sisters, I appreciate your woes, and truly, maybe I have something to say that may be of use to you. After all, I am used to having my children home all day, and every day.


While you are feeling more pressure at having your children home all day, what your children are likely feeling is disequilibrium resulting from a phenomenon called decompression. In the home schooling community, many call it detox, and some home school “authorities” believe that the process of decompressing from the heavily structured public school environment takes one full month for each year that a child has spent in school. But if your child is beyond 2nd grade and you only have three months of Summer vacation ahead of you, don’t despair. I personally believe that children are very resilient and that they can rather quickly make progress in learning to self-direct their activities in constructive ways.

Consider what is happening for your child; all of the pressure is suddenly off for your children and perhaps they don’t know quite what to do with so much freedom…or maybe they know just what they want to do with their days but you don’t like their choices.

Your children are used to having every moment of every day structured for them. They are used to the rush to get up in the morning, grabbing a bite to eat and running out the door. A bell rings at certain intervals of the day directing them as to when it is time to move to the next class. Evenings are filled with homework, youth activities, soccer practice, music lessons, etc. And now, with the advent of summer, they are plunged into a world of seeming emptiness. Long hours stretch before them each day which they are at a loss as to how to fill. Their days are no longer structured by someone else and they haven’t yet learned how to do this for themselves. Not only that, but they’ve been looking forward to Summer vacation for months and now they don’t know what to do with it. Without someone telling them what to do, they are “bored”.  Normal behavior in this kind of situation is fighting and bickering with siblings, whom they are not used to spending whole days and weeks at a time with; and long hours in front of screens such as TV and computer, alternated with sighs and declarations of boredom.

So what’s a mom to do? Here are some tidbits to consider from a mom who has her children home pretty much 24/7 year round.

Don’t try to entertain them all summer.

Oh sure, schedule some carefree days at the beach, a picnic for lunch, or maybe even a day at the zoo but definitely don’t feel like it is your job to entertain your children all summer long with trips that are extremely structured and which take a lot of planning. Don’t line up their summers with camps and swimming lessons, and more of the same pressure and heavy structure that they get all year. Let your children have the summer as a time to relax, decompress, and enjoy unstructured playtime. Give them time to learn to self-direct their activities…summertime is the perfect opportunity for that.

Do organize and share responsibilities for chores in your home.

Help your children to understand that it is not Mom’s job to do all the cleaning and cooking. At our home the mantra is “Do you live here? Then you must help with whatever chores need doing. It’s as natural as waking up in this home.” If my children complain about chores…and yes, even my perfect little cherubs often complain, all I generally need to say is “Do you live here?” I usually get a wry smile with a “Yes, Mom” and off they go to complete their family responsibilities.

Children need to understand that they have their own personal chores first. They are responsible for their personal belongings and space. And then they are also responsible to help with shared space and belongings. The way that chores are divided differs substantially from one family to the next, so I cannot make any definite recommendations which would be right for all families; but what I can say is that all families need a system. It might be as simple as having the family all work together for an hour in the mornings or afternoons to accomplish what is needed. It might be more structured with certain family members being given responsibility for certain chores on a regular or on a rotating basis, or a combination of things like this. Our family uses both of these systems at different times.

So sit down and define what needs to be done and then think about what would be the best way for your family  to accomplish those things. Include the children. Not only will they have some great ideas, but they will also feel some ownership for their part and some sense of community with the family to do what is needed so that things run smoothly. How much nicer for them…and for you…than having Mom or Dad dictate what they will do and then nag about it later.

And while you are at it, don’t forget to spend time actually teaching your children what it is exactly that you expect. What does a good job really look like? How do you go about it? What hints can you give to expedite the job or to make it a little more fun?

And finally, work alongside them. I grew up with a father who did this well. Saturday mornings were cleaning time at our house. Dad put on the music nice and loud, and we all worked together until it was done. It was fun working alongside of Dad…somehow it didn’t seem so much like a chore then.

Do make a list of suggested activities if they are bored.

Your children are used to having each moment directed. It’s natural for them to look to an adult to tell them what to do and how to structure their days. Help them to see that it is now their opportunity and privilege to self-direct their activities. Make a list of suggestions and post it on the refrigerator. Let them help make the list. Come up with as many things that they might choose to do as you can think of. This list might include some questions for them to think about or some observations for them to make…not just things to do. Here’s a beginning:

  • Read a book.
  • Draw or paint a picture of something you see outdoors.
  • Build a tower with the blocks.
  • Play a board game with a sibling.
  • Make a snack for the family.
  • How many different birds can you see or hear in the backyard?
  • How many colors can you see in nature?
  • How many living things can you count in the backyard?
  • Water the garden or the grass.
  • Put together a puzzle.
  • Straighten the silverware drawer.
  • Write a story about…
  • Start a nature journal.

These are just a few things that come to my own mind in about the  two minutes it took to write it. You and your children will be able to brainstorm quite a long list.

Don’t make chores a punishment for being bored.

This is a huge temptation for parents. “Oh, you are bored? Here I have a list of chores you can choose from.” Really, I suspect that what we really want as parents is a sense of community about chores and a feeling that everyone simply must do their part. Oh sure, you can include some of the chores that need to be done in the home on your list of suggested activities if they are bored, but don’t make it a punishment. Instead, let them choose to clean out that cupboard if they want to and then help them feel that wonderful sense of accomplishment at a job well done. “Wow! That cupboard looks so good! Doesn’t it make you almost want to leave it open and just look at it? How much nicer this will be for our family.” For those of you who are saying “Yeah right…my child would never choose to clean out the cupboard”, may I suggest that you stop making chores a punishment or a negative for a while and just see what happens? My children are a little older now…ages 10-20, but they quite regularly will clean out a cupboard or do an extra chore willingly…and with no extrinsic reward. I have one son who is OCD about my silverware drawer. It really bugs him when it is a mess and he is always straightening it out. (Now if I could just find a way for him to be OCD about his bedroom…but that is another blog.)

Find part two of this blog here.

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