One of my favorite things about being a teacher is that my “new year” doesn’t come in the icy hollows of January. It comes in warm, fresh, sunny June with a big spoonful of sunshine. It’s the time I make plans to get organized, spend more quality time with my kids, catch up on my reading, and travel. Today is my first official day of summer break and like the first day of a new workout routine or diet plan, I’m crushin’ it. Maintaining it for the rest of the summer, like all resolutions, will take some determination and planning. I’ve been thinking about what I can do to help keep it going and I realized that a few crucial components will help me.
The first is my daily schedule. It looks like this:
Go ahead, laugh at my picture schedule. I bet you think I made this for my three year-old and partially I did. But mostly, I made it for me. I love the structure. Kids love structure. Structure=productivity. It’s another one of my favorite things about being a teacher. Now I know that not everyone gets that glorious teacher schedule with a big, fat break in the middle of the summer. And you Stay-at-home Moms have got this down to an art, I’m sure. Your “vacation schedule”does not have to be this detailed, but try writing down one or two goals per day while your on vacation. And the goal could be “spend 30 minutes staring at a wall while my children watch Sponge Bob.” Just write it down. Once you do, you’ll be more likely to follow through and then you get that fantastic feeling of crossing something off a list. You know what I’m talking about, right?
The second critical component is to set realistic expectations for your vacation. It may not be realistic to “clean out the garage” as much as you want to. But it might be realistic to put away 5 things or take the recycling to the recycling center. Simple is good. My realistic expectations this summer revolve around taking my two very young children (3 and 1) out in public. Mommymentum confession: This terrifies me every time I do it. I know that I am so blessed to have adventurous and inquisitive children. And I love it, I really do. But it is HARD not to get embarrassed when I take them to a store or story time and they can’t sit still like the other kids. The Bear chatters constantly. He is a perpetual motion machine and “still” seems like an affront to his entire existence. BayBay tries to steal people’s purses. Okay, maybe not steal, but drag off in a corner and search for treasures. She head butts. She arches her back and screams. But I am going to power through (hopefully, it’s only day 1) and try to give them opportunities to improve while setting the expectations low, for now. Did we complete story time? Yes. Great. Next week can we try to sit and listen to half of one story? Maybe! Realistic expectation.
My last integral component of vacation: acceptance. Sometimes it rains 7 out of 7 days at the beach. Sometimes the Pope closes the Sistine Chapel the one day in your life that you are in the Vatican (really happened to me!). And sometimes that old grandpa with his docile preschooler glares at you and your disruptive kids during library story time. Your preschooler throws a tantrum because another kid put away his carpet square. Your toddler in a tutu and Molina jersey will only wear one shoe. I accepted it today for the first time, maybe ever. And it felt really good. I laughed out loud when The Bear told the librarian that the sun was made of gas and plasma. My anxiety level went down. I spun in circles with Baybay in front of a fan (and a room full of parents) giggling in beautiful harmony. I smiled in a situation that terrifies me. I think it’s gonna be a happy new year!