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School's Out For Summer!

Today is the last day of school, woe is me. The School Board didn’t even have the decency to make it a full day. At 1:00 my blessed alone time will have become a thing of the past, for the summer at least, and my seven hours of writing time will be cut by at least 75%.

Actually, by the time you read this, my kids will be looking into my office from the doorway telling me they’re bored, or that they’re hungry and can’t possibly cook breakfast for themselves, or worse yet, they’ll cook and I get to clean up after them. Then later, they’ll stare at me until I stop writing, look at them, and growl, “What?” at which time they’ll ask. “How’s the writing going?” This is what I have to look forward to for the next three months, God help me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, really, but I don’t mind when they’re away from me between the hours of 8AM and 3PM. My youngest gave me a hug before climbing onto the bus and said she couldn’t wait until tomorrow so we could spend more quality time together. The thought made my ass twitch. More quality time? I’m a hands-on stay-at-home mother. If I spend any more quality time with my kids, I might just go mad. So, I’m dreaming up ways to keep them busy.

Here’s my plan:

• One hour cleaning time. In my dreams, I’ll have the house vacuumed on a daily basis, windows cleaned, and bedrooms tidied up. On the more realistic end of the spectrum, I might get the breakfast dishes done and possibly the garbage thrown.

• An hour of reading every day, no TV, no iPods, no electronics at all. One hour of quiet. When Twinkle Toes comes home for the month of August, we’ll be reading Pride and Prejudice together.

• Tomorrow I’m taking my youngest to the local nursery where we will buy a herbs to plant in the now weed-ridden pots on my front porch. She’ll be responsible to plant them, water them every day, and gather and was whatever herbs I’ll need to fix dinner.

• One day a week I’ll have my daughter’s best friend over for a bowling camp. They can walk up and back, stop at the neighborhood stores, and generally wear themselves out.

• If I achieve my weekly writing goal, and the kids achieve their goals when it comes to chores, we might even do a day escape. I love taking the kids to nearby battlefields, art museums, zoos, and all the great little hidden historical gems spread over the Washington D.C. area.

• I’m adding incentive—always a good thing. But if all else fails, there is always bribery. It’s amazing how good two or three kids can be when a Jimmy Cone hangs in the balance.

So, for those of you with kids, what do you do to keep them busy and out from under foot all summer? And if you are either without kids or just failing miserably at the above and aren’t in the mood to discuss it, what are the things you used to love to do in the summer that kept you out of your parents’ hair?


  1. I'm LMAO!!! I feel your pain. My baby is 21 so I don't have to go through this anymore! Thank God. Oh, don't get me wrong, I loved, and still my son, but...those who have/had kids understand! These is only so much a parent can take before they crack...and kids always know how to get you to that point.

    Now, for your plans...I wish you luck, but....don't hold your breath on the cleaning and reading time. But think can always change the locks, with the kids on the outside! lol

    Who knows? Your kids may surprise you and be perfect angels all summer long. Yeah, I don't believe it either, but it sounds nice!

    Have a good summer Robin! Best behavior wishes on all your kids.

  2. Hi Jessica~

    I'm glad you could relate, and I'm jealous of your peace and quiet. Have a great summer, Jessica and thanks for your good wishes!

  3. Robin I so feel for you! I've got 3, one of whom is a baby, but the other two were in PreK and elementary until yesterday... My writing time will be depleted immensely too! I like the idea of chore time daily, and reading time, they'll be playing in the backyard a lot too. We've got playdates galore set up, and we'll be at the gym a lot to give me a bit of a break and some exercise. I signed them up for camp, but its when I'll be away at nationals... Luckily they are all pretty used to mommy having her "pretend work" as they call it since I don't actually leave the house no matter how many times I've explained its really work, lol

    Good luck! Should be chaotic and interesting!

  4. Are you trying to tell me it's illegal to lock my teenagers out of the house from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday all summer?

  5. Love your list, Robin! I nannied for a family with four kids, and the minute I got home from college, their mom was calling me to come over--even while the kids were still in school! I'd spend those daytime hours reading and watching daytime television... then the madness began as I nannied until the evening, but at least I got to leave!

    I did, however, instill a reading hour everyday-even if it was a teen magazine that the 14 year old girl was reading; we had an hour of reading everyday! And once school was out, we'd spend even more time. We went to the library, signed up for the summer reading program and even had our own mini competition at the house (with prizes of course!). And I was able to help all four of them find books they'd enjoy. I hope they still like to read because of that time!

  6. I homeschooled, and my kids complained that they NEVER got a summer break. :) But we also took vacations when all the other kids were in school--think of no lines at theme parks. Too much fun. :) One has graduated from college, the other is still in college but they still had the summer school work ethic. So for every year, they continued with their schooling through the summers! I think all kids should continue to be in school through summer!

  7. LOL, Robin!
    My youngest of three graduated high school last Saturday, so my days of summer writing with kids running around are done.

    But, when I had all three at home, and I'm sure my military background is involved here, I'd make up a summer 'to do' list. I nixed the word chore as it invites negative thoughts.

    You map out the months in a schedule form and under, put all of the 'jobs' to be done, trash, dishes, sweep, mop, mow, laundry, whatever you have, then break them down to where time-wise they even out. Then, use the first initial of each name and give responsibility for said selected chores for a week = write the initial on the schedule for each day of that respective week. At the end of the week, they swap and take over a new set of 'tasks.'

    Note: Write 'to do' list, all tasks will be completed by noon or you are grounded for the day.

    What this does is teaches them how to be self-sufficient, gives them a time frame to complete the tasks given, is clear in what is expected, holds them accountable and has consequences. I'm proud to say that all of my kids know how to do dishes, laundry and everything else the need to know to be out on their own.

    And, last but not least, the mornings are yours. There's never any doubt of what's expected of each child every day. :)

    Hope the advice from this retired Navy chief helps. :)

  8. Robin,
    I should have added that then, the afternoon is yours to spend with the kids. Everything is done, you've had your sanity writing time, and now it's time to have family fun. :)

  9. I'm still trying to get over Terry home-schooling her kids! How did you live through it!?! :-)

    Thankfully, by the time I was writing we lived in a subdivison that had a swimming pool with a lifeguard on duty and they loved for me to pack them a lunch, towel and sunscreen and send them off.


  10. Robin

    I got a chuckle out of your ambitious summer plans. Good luck. I've tried setting similar schedules for myself and it never works. But maybe that's just my disorganization. My son is grown and out of the house. I was never a stay-at-home mom so summers meant driving him to day camp before work each day.

    I hope you enjoy your summer.

    Carolyn Matkowsky/Cara Marsi

  11. Well, I have an 8-month old, so there's no keeping her busy without my involvement. There's only so much time she can spend in her jumperoo or in her walker. And she's at the stage where she just wants to climb on mommy. It's hard to find time for writing and myself, but I wouldn't trade my time with her for anything. In a few years she'll be at school from 8-3, and we won't have this special time together.

  12. Eliza- When my kids in preschool, I did the gym every morning--thank God for Gym daycare. I played and did things with the kids all day. At 7:00 when everyone went to bed (I still believe early bedtimes = sanity) I wrote. I'd write all night, sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning. I wrote a total of 330,000 words in one year. Now I wish I had the energy I had then, not to mention the discipline.

  13. Steph- My lips are sealed. I'm not telling you a thing. LOL

  14. Danielle~ Sounds like you were a great Nanny. Two of my three kids are dyslexic, so it's difficult to instill a love a reading since reading itself is so difficult for them. I got Twinkle Toes hooked last summer. Now I'm trying with my youngest. My son is a voracious reader. When we had the talk this morning about summer rules, reading was the only thing he didn't complain about He's really hoping he gets a job at the boy scout camp so he doesn't have to spend the summer cleaning and doing lawn work.

  15. Terry -

    I home schooled Twinkle Toes for 2 years, but we also had dance to consider so we didn't get the benefits of vacationing when no one else could. I went to year-round school in Florida and loved it, we had 3 weeks vacation in between each marking period. It was just long enough to be a real break but not long enough to get boring. I wish they had year-round school here.

  16. Diana~ I'm writing all your suggestions down and making our schedule. You are a true inspiration!

  17. Amelia - ah, to have a neighborhood pool with lifeguard would be fabulous. I have a feeling it's going to be a long, hot summer.

  18. Carolyn~ Thanks for the good wishes, I have so many books to write, this has to work. LOL

  19. Shana - Enjoy your baby and write at nap time and after bedtime. My kids had early bedtimes and I wrote like mad when they were younger. I wouldn't miss a minute of it either, but let me tell you, when school starts, both you and your baby will be ready for a little tim apart. When my youngest started full-day school, I had a party with wine, chocolate and a bubble bath.

  20. Oh my, do I ever sympathize, Robin. My kids got out last Friday! Yikes! Having them home really hurts the writing time, AND I also have hubby home with torn cartilage in his hip. But it's all good. Everyone is very understanding. Hubby made the kids clean up the kitchen last night and ordered them to leave mommy alone so she could write.

    Your list was SO awesome, and Diana, your ideas were an inspiration.

    Here's hoping everyone survives summer and still gets some good writing done.

  21. Hi Robin,
    Enjoyed your post. I think the summer dilemma is something all mothers can relate to. Your plan sounds great. One of my tricks is to keep a few "special" chores as backup. When the kids come complaining "I'm bored," you can say, "Oh, that's wonderful. I've been waiting for you to get bored so you can help me by (fill in the blank). They quickly learn that if they can't keep themselves happily occupied, you can keep them unhappily occupied. Good luck this summer.

  22. Anita~ Thanks for dropping by. Sorry to here that your DH is down with torn cartilage I wish him a speedy recovery. Isn't it wonderful that we have supportive husbands? Good luck with you and yours. I wish you a happy, healthy, and productive summer.

  23. No kids for me. As for the years I was a kid?

    I lived a mile from the beach. 'Nuff said?

  24. Diane~ It's great to see you here. What a good idea about the special back-up chores.

    My son just asked me to buy him a new headset for his X-Box so he can play games when my youngest is around. I asked why he couldn't play with her around and he explained that she shouldn't hear all the cursing. Sigh.. When I said he shouldn't either, I got that "I'm not a baby anymore and no, I don't curse, but others do..."

    I pulled out your bag of tricks and told him if he weeded the dog yard (which is resembling a forest) I'd buy him one. I won't bother to mention that when he started his little job, the dogs outsmarted him and escaped. They're back safe and sound and will spend the rest of their day sleeping.

  25. Sometimes I miss having the kids around in the summer with all the baseball practices and games, picnics for this event or that, meals of hotdogs and hamburgers on a regular (make that daily) basis. When that happens, I slap myself in the head and mutter, "Are you nuts?"

    Having them home made me crazy. The bickering. The running hither and yon to get three children three places all at the same time. The whole "bored" thing that chafed and chafed until it had me all but yelling, "Boredom is the product of a lazy mind! You have a brain. Use it!"

    Ah, yes. Those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer. I'm so glad they're over---most of the time.

    Good luck with your summer plans, doll. Flexibility is the key. Valium doesn't hurt either! *G*

  26. Oh Linda~

    I loved going to the beach when I was a kid. My grandparents would take me almost every day when I was a little kid in Florida, in Brooklyn it was Jones Beach or Coney Island.

  27. Gwynlyn - Girlfriend, you crack me up! Got the hamburgers, hot dogs (with homemade rolls of course since my kids are real foodies) and homemade baked beans, now all I'm missing is the Valium.

  28. Robin honey, mojitos for you! Trust me, better than valium.

  29. LOL Bella
    You are so funny! I guarantee that when you hand out the chore list they will make themselves invisible. Seriously, them helping is a great idea, gets things done & teaches them self-suffiency. When I nag my son about doing stuff himself I tell him that I don't want my future daughter-in-law (whoever she may be) to hate me if he's useless. I guess I want him to be a "domestic god" LOL. His dad is one already.
    Ciao for now.

  30. Brings back memories. I always made sure we had some scheduled time, some free time and some play a game together time.

    Now they're back from college and buy their own boardgames, but we still have some great game together time.

  31. Linda- I do love those Mojitos. Pills, not so much.

  32. Mary~ Thanks for stopping by, Bella. I'm so glad your raising your son to be a Domestic God, I'm trying to too. I tell him how sexy men are when they cook and clean. I'm hoping my Domestic God husband rubs off on him.

  33. Sheila~ We try to get a game night in once a week or so, the kids love playing Mexican Train the best. We all love it.

  34. I miss that time alone during the day, but for now, until that fabulous day somewhere in the misty future when Sam finally gets a job, it's only a memory. *sniff* Let me know how your summer turns out Robin. Perhaps it will give me hope.


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