We made it through the first three days of summer vacation at home (not counting the first week of travel) before I snapped. It was 8:30 in the morning on Day Four, and Anya flopped on my bed and sighed, "I'm bored." I looked at her. I might have glared. "Good," I said, "go clean your room." I thought she might cry but instead she glared back and me and stalked off to her room, where she messed around with a pile of papers from school for about 20 minutes and called it good.
Daniel, having learned from observing this exchange, has been making frequent statements over the last week, like "Mom, I'm not bored at all! I have a new hobby, in fact. It's staring at the ceiling." Or, "I have another new hobby: seeing how long it takes to melt an ice cube in my mouth without chewing it!"
I used to roll my eyes at parents who didn't know what to do with their kids all day because of a school holiday. I never get a break, I wanted to snap, and is it really so bad finding something to do with your own child/ren for a whole FIVE DAYS IN A ROW?! Big deal. But, you know, I kind of get it. Parents and kids get used to whatever routine they have going, whether it's full-time daycare or school or preschool or summer camp and then when that changes abruptly, everybody gets a little tense.
Lots of us are pretty sick of the question "What are you doing this summer?" This question has a lot of meanings. The subtext ranges from, "What on earth are you doing with your kids this summer?" to "How the hell are you going to get any work done?" to "Please tell me you're going to be around all the time because we really need play dates to get through it" to "Aren't you lucky you're a stay at home mom and get to go to the pool every day and sit around while the rest of us earn a living" I mean, most of the time the question is innocent enough, but it can be pretty loaded.
Me? I'm the slacker mom who didn't sign her children up for a single camp because by the time she checked on the fun ones (months late) they were full. Good thing there were spots left for swimming lessons two weeks ago or we wouldn't even be doing that.
I could write a whole manifesto here about my half-assed free range parenting style and how it's good for kids to be bored because it stimulates creativity and we're developing our relationship with all the time we spend together, but ugh, that's just too precocious. Mostly, I didn't want to spend the money on camps and I was too disorganized anyway. They're out of school all summer and I barely get any paid work so time with mom it is!*
This week is going better. We're starting to establish a rhythm and they're getting better at finding things to do (but it's only Tuesday). The weather is nice so we've picked berries and gone on bike rides and there is a stack of library books to read and board games to play. They do have swimming and music lessons, so there is that bit of structure, and I have grand plans to go canoeing and teach them to cook. Life could be worse.
If I'm going crazy by mid-July I might take the kids camping somewhere. We've done it before, just the three of us, so I know we can do it!
* If I wanted to work in the summer, I would have to teach at music camps, which would vastly complicate child care, so I just don't bother. Because apparently I'm a slacker musician in addition to being a slacker mom. Or I'm well rounded. Take your pick.