This week is the first week of summer break and that means everything is in a sort of upheaval. We are already building new routines and I'm playing referee most of the time as the three kids get used to spending so much time together. This will all change again next week when Mia starts her summer camp, but it's been a good week for slowing down as much as possible, for really listening to each other, and trying to answer questions with yes instead of immediate no's.
What is clear in all this is that Mia is a routine girl. I've known this for a long time, but it's easy to forget until her whole routine changes. She's quick to tears, sensitive, clingy, and full of energy. It's exhausting, but it's also been really good for me to treat her gently and get to the heart of her mood shifts. She asks in her own ways for more time with me and I've tried really hard to honor that.
Recently I read a book called Simplicity Parenting. It's really been an enlightening book at how we overstimulate kids----with toys, TV, activities, etc. My favorite section was on soul fevers---which is basically when your child's mood and personality is off. He writes that if your child is sick you would stop all activities for the day, cuddle, slow down. If your child is having consistent mood changes or meltdowns, you should do the same. They are sending you the message in the only way they know how to slow down.
I know it's not always reasonable to do that, but for us we've tried to build in time each week for down time. Right now that means everyday (even weekends) all kids are in their bed or rooms for rest time. That gives us a break to recharge and gives the babies a chance to nap. Mia is often reading or playing games on the computer. I was prepared for more of a fight with Mia, but it's become clear that she welcomes these breaks too.
We also have Mia pick one extracurricular activity each season. This makes it so much easier than having to rush around to multiple activities and disrupt our dinners together. During the fall and spring she chose dance. This summer she's doing swim lessons. We talk a lot about what she's interested in trying and work hard to let her try it out. We give her one or two choices that work for the whole family and she picks the one she's most interested in. The twins haven't started classes yet and I know that will add more challenges, but we'll reevaluate when we get there!
Sundays have become our lazy days. We don't rush out the door quickly. We let the kids watch a few extra TV shows and we let the day ebb and flow as it will. They can be the hardest day of the week because of the energy that the three kids can whip up together----but it's the togetherness that makes it all worth it.
I envision we'll have a lot of bumps this summer as we build up new routines. I look forward to seeing how much Mia grows and changes as she experiences new things. I love to see the way she mothers the twins and tries to "help" them. I haven't lost my cool---yet.
It's only been four days, but I can see it's going to be a pretty great summer break.