Originally posted July 6, 2014
I am experiencing something right now that so many of you do every year. However, it is brand new to me. I have a child attending public school, so this is my first “have them home all summer” thing.
Normally, all of my kids are here all the time, and you just learn to pace yourself. I’ve written before that we needed to make some changes for everyone, and this was a great decision. No regrets. It is beneficial to the entire family. However … summer.
All of the benefits we reap from a team of people in the life of a child are just gone. *poof* Like that. For three months.
You have to acclimate to the constant again. It’s showing me just how much I do this naturally with homeschooling, and just how well I got used to the “new normal” in our home.
Thankfully, we are surviving with very few tears and I have yet to pull out all of my hair. Which is good, because mine would come out very quickly, seeing how most of it is stuck together. Thought I would share my gems that have made a huge difference for us. It’s simple, really.
I have a really long list (40-50 things) of things my child can do at anytime during any day of summer. It is posted in a prominent place. It involves some electronics. It involves movies and shows. But that is not where I have seen the biggest help. That list is chock full of lots of messy things. Stuff like fingernail polish, paint, makeup, face paint, craft sticks, glue and Sharpie markers. Messy stuff.
I have some boundaries on these things (mainly where they can be used). Other than that, the only thing I ask is that the last thing be put away before you start the new thing. I have to remind my kid of that regularly, and they have been fine to comply. Mainly because they are super excited to be moving on to the next thing.
This particular child has ADHD. Like, has ADHD so severely that it took a trained professional to point out what was going on because what I was seeing did not fit the stereotype in my head. As we have treated it in multiple ways, I have discovered that so much of their behavioral and social struggles are a part of a mood disorder, sure. However, the ADHD is lighter fluid on that flame. This list thing has been wonderful. And they truly enjoy all of the many ideas and options about 85% of the time.
I have also been practicing “yes!” a lot. If it’s not going to hurt a person or a thing, I try to say yes. It is the summer of mess, but it is also the summer of peace and joy. It is the summer of creativity.
It is the summer of removing polish and repainting nails four times a day. “Mom, I don’t like how I painted my nails this morning. Can I paint them again?” I sat and thought and then let out a, “Yes!” I also helped them buy their very own polish remover, cotton balls, and makeup remover wipes with their allowance money. All theirs. No one else can hog them or use them up, and they can use them all day long if they want to. Put it on, take it off. Paint it on, take it off. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
It is messy, but I created areas where the mess is fine and encouraged. Why, yes, their clothes are covered in stains. Permanent stains. Many on the butts of their britches. Uh-huh. Look at me all not caring! Just gonna’ buy ALL new things before school starts again. Someone give me a ribbon!
I was taught a lesson a year ago from a therapist who has issues with attention: kids with ADHD don’t often feel overwhelmed, they actually tend to feel painfully bored to tears. Out of all the things on the list, I’m seeing about the same six activities repeated most of the time. The choice gives feelings of control. The mess factor gives feelings of creativity and again with the control aspect. I made sure to put a little novelty in there, like “Eat a meal outside.” Who knew? I’ve never once said you CAN’T eat outside. However, after putting it on that list, my kid has eaten breakfast and lunch out there almost every single day.
A list. A long list. Of lots and lots of ideas. And me embracing and encouraging mess. It is saving our summer.
(I have since created a Pinterest board of most of our Summer Fun list)