May has always been one of my favorite months of the year. I live in Chicago, the home of the long, cold winter. May means a lot to us all. We’re told not to plant flowers until this month, not to even think of putting away winter coats until this month, and to hold tight until this month for any real sign that our pal Mr. Sunshine might just decide to come out of hibernation once again.
This month is also the month I begin to get those summer break pangs. End-of-the-school-year activities are now on my wall calendar, the hunt for teacher gifts has begun, and the smell of my front yard lilacs and new Kelly green grass in the backyard are sure signs our big ol’ break is just around the corner.
But with the excitement of vast amounts of time “off” with my boys, there are also moments of “OMG … How will I keep everyone happy, busy, active, and not bored stiff with so much time on our hands?”
I have never been a big proponent of sending my boys away all day in the summer to camps and activities, mainly because I have the luxury of being able to stay home with them and because I just don’t like the idea of them being as scheduled as they are in school … and neither do they.
We typically construct a mish-mash of a couple hours of structured activities per day mixed with various adventures, at-home activities, community pool time, beach days, bike rides, and see-what-happens-today kind of fun.
One thing that has always helped me adjust to the transition of having my dudes home all day is consciously shifting how I see my home.
We live about five minutes from Lake Michigan, and every June I announce that this house will now be considered a “lake house”. With lake house rules. My cleaning routine is allowed to relax; sand, dirt, Super Soakers, and semi-wet towels will dwell on the floor and I won’t freak out; the doors will be left open and flies will come in; and colorful Popsicle wrappers will become my new side table accessory. Two summers ago my husband and I decided to invest in a lake cottage in Michigan that I now run away to most summer weekends and most of July. A place where TV, internet, and telephones are not permitted. So we now really do have a little “lake house”. But my home here in the ’burbs of Chicago still transforms each June into a true summer home as well for the duration of my kids’ summer break.
So I encourage you, too, to make that mental shift as we head toward summer. Allow your kids (and yourself) the joy of a truly relaxed, less structured, let’s-see-what-happens-today, maybe a little more messy, “summer home” environment. They’ll have more fun, you’ll have more fun, and your home will be a place where they can’t wait to hang.