Monday, June 28, 2010

Schedule for Summer Success

I'm not one to complain (cough:cough), so I haven't mentioned much on my blog about the various special needs of my children. Most of them have ADD (trust me, it's real), one has cerebral palsy, one guy has major OCD/Tourettes; mix in a little Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and add a mother with her own "issues" (mostly depravity) and you get a family that thrives on routine - and prayer.

Actually, most children are more secure and well-behaved when they know what to expect. Flexibility is great, but you need something to flex 'from' or you end just plain disorganized, if not lazy. Spontaneity is more appreciated when it doesn't occur on an hourly basis.

And yes, those who know me can go ahead and count this as just more advice from a B.O. (Flylady's abbreviation for someone who is Born Organized.) However, the desire to plan my days is more of a survival technique for me than anything I inherited.

"Those who fail to plan, plan to fail", right?

I'm not keen on failure. But that's the guaranteed outcome when I wake up late, have no idea what we're eating for breakfast (lunch of dinner), and don't have a clue whether we can play all day or if there's important work to be done.

"But, it's summer!" (notice the quotes...) Summertime means more hours together, more time to relax and smell the (weedy) roses. Time to play unhurried games, make home-made slushees, and finally have leisure time to read all those books (I can't stop buying) on our shelves.

So, right around June 1st, instead of throwing the schedules and chore charts out the screen door, we simply "summerize" them.

And the children thrive.
And the mom is happy.
And projects slowly get crossed off the list (so I can keep adding more.)
And game pieces get found (or the game goes in the trash),
And math and spelling are reviewed.
And we all live happily ever after.

And we get a TLC show offered to us.

Here's the way our days are going this summer:

Kids wake an hour after mom - I like to start the day ahead of them. Vital.

Morning Chores - Never changes, year-round, no thinking required (make beds, gather garbage, unload dishwasher, feed cats, check pool, etc.)

Breakfast/Bible - I try to have my quiet time before the kids are up (preventive measures), then I can use our breakfast time to read to them. We're currently going through this.

More chores (We simply can't get enough of them. We're chore addicts!)- These are planned out by me, sometimes during that Power Hour before they wake up, sometimes taken from an on-going list I make during PMS, when everywhere I turn I find something that irritates me and proves my life is falling apart. For example, today one son re-painted a coffee table; another cleaned refrigerator coils; two children scraped paint from baseboards, and the other vassal cleaned the back porch, then wiped out the inside of the washer and dryer.

This is gruntwork that wouldn't usually show up on your weekly to-do list. But, it's so satisfying to have it completed. Which is why sometimes I walk around amidst my laborers, popping chocolate kisses into their sweet, subservient mouths. For real. I did this today. One for them, two for me.

These last one hour. If they finish early, the lucky-duckies get another extra time on the computer (otherwise EVERY chore would take the complete hour...because my children are smart - - - when it comes to doing less work.)

When the hour is up, it's Playtime for an hour. Some days I suggest a playtime activity (because otherwise they would always choose Wii or computer time, and we all know what that causes. Bad attitudes ...... and sometimes the kids are affected, too.)

When they were younger, and I was a recovering perfectionist, I had a list of every game, puzzle, card deck, and art supply we owned. We would rotate through the list making use of all our wonderful ($$) resources and stimulating our creativity. When I would tell other moms about our playtime diversity they would look at me with eyes longing to Be Me (or they would immediately leave the room afraid whatever I had might be contagious.)

There are also pragmatic reasons for having such a list. We've been out of school for less than a month and we have discarded 7 games -either because there were important pieces missing, or because the game no longer kept the kid's interest (or it was embarrassing to play - like National Geographic's On Assignment.) We've also rediscovered some games that would have stayed on the shelf had Wii been an option for play time. And I already have some framed paintings, (way too many) friendship bracelets, and a knitted eyeglass case - all because I "suggested" art time.

After Play Time, we do Summer School. Mostly math review (including some board games and electronic hand-held flash cards), some spelling, and two chapters in a Mom-assigned literature book. Then they read something from the science shelf - followed by recording anything interesting they learned in a spiral notebook.

Lunch and clean-up

Rest time - This is the time for each of us to be completely alone - very important in a large family. Vital. The children usually listen to a story on CD, a history tape, or continue to read. Sometimes Molly plays with dolls, the boys occasionally color in a Dover color book or do Legos, and I almost always use this time to read blogs and steal ideas.
This usually lasts 1-2 hours, according to how tired I am :)

Afternoon chore time- This is only the necessary end-of-day stuff. Putting up laundry; cleaning out the vans; finishing any projects started in the morning, dinner prep.

More play, followed by more play - The children swim or ride bikes, do some dangerous skateboarding, or play four square in the driveway. I like the kids to be outside several hours a day, but there are certain hours in Florida where a person can not breathe, and where clothing is a huge health-hazard. Fortunately, there are only about 8 months that fit this category.

After dinner and clean-up we might watch a movie (so far, the John Adams mini-series and 3 volumes of Anne of Green Gables) or play a family game, or read aloud or listen to a book on CD. We're in the middle of an audio recording of Around the World in 80 days, and the British actor who reads it has us all in suspense (even though most of us have read the book and already know that Phileas Fogg did not rob the bank).

Occasionally my husband and I will remember we're a married couple and try to do something alone (like go over the calendar, or talk about why I can't stop buying books) in which case we banish our offspring to the basement. (And they don't mind because there is foosball, ping pong, and a pool table down there.)

Then we all usually eat ice cream and go to bed.

So to "summerize" our schedule: Eat, Work, Play, Learn, Eat, Rest, Work, Play, Eat, Play, Eat. Sleep.

Work hard, play harder, eat often. The perfect summer equation.

P.S. I noticed that I have one new follower. Thank you! I only need 6,964 more, and then I can change my name to The Debster.


Donna G. said...

Holy cow, woman! I should plan so much during the school year. I am amazed and impressed, Debbie. You know, in some ways our families' daily schedules are alike. For example, we eat ice cream almost every evening. =)

Becky R said...

Debbie, when I listen to you talk about your schedules (or read your blog) I always think longingly that I want to be like you AND I have a strong desire to leave the room in case what you have is contagious. Thanks for sharing!

Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen said...

Becky, if my contagiousness got you to leave a comment, than it's totally worth the risk.

thanks :)

Mar said...

I love all the family time your schedule involves.

Kahlua Keeping Koala said...

Wow! So what's the solution for he who refuses every schedule ever contrived in any shape or form?

lea said...

when is "go to eat brunch with lea" time..

Jason and Gretchen said...

I am a mother of five who is still learning to be a recovering perfectionist. :) I guess this kind of organization is needed for a big family - I love it! Thanks for your recent comments on my blog.

Dayna said...

Thanks, Debbie, for reminding me of my roots. :-) It's a shame we're not neighbors, but what neighborhood could stand two of us?? I long for days of order again. I have no one to blame other than myself. Instead of a summer schedule, this year I've compiled a list of excuses.

We really enjoyed the John Adams series, by the way. Thanks for this great post! I now remember who I am and what it is that I'm supposed to be doing.

Sarah said...

I loved this post! This is one of those "print and put in my Hope Chest" posts. I can see myself becoming a wife and mom and realizing I need to get over the perfectionism thing (do you happen to be the oldest sibling in your family?). But nonetheless, I love a schedule, and I probably need them the most in the summer when the temptation to forgo all order is enormous. Thanks again for a good laugh in the middle of real life :)

Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen said...

So, Sarah, you can tell I'm a first born, huh? And with your hope chest comment you remind me of MY first born. You will make a wonderful wife and mother, as your own mother is - with or without a summer schedule :)

Kathy - mom of many said...

Wow, you get a lot done in a day. I'm, unfortunately, one of those who is too spontaneous on an hourly basis. But, I long to be more scheduled and organized.
Thanks for dropping by my blog, that I've neglected for lack of interest these days.
I'm also a Floridian, South Florida to be more specific. Where are you?

Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen said...

Kathy, fellow mom of many -
"I" don't get a lot done, "We" get a lot done....but with all those girls I'm sure you could outdo us if you wrote it all down. Looking at your family picture makes me miss my married girls (even more.)
And we don't get this much done every day. I just don't blog about the lazy, dud days :)

We're in N. Florida, the Big Bend area.

Melissa said...

And THIS is why I want to be you. Even with all your hard challenges, you still put a day like this together. I love how the kids get up an hour after you instead of you getting up an hour earlier than them. Do they sleep in late or do they stay in their rooms until you are ready? Now off to put clean refrigerator coils on my summer cleaning list :(

Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen said...

Melissa, I have always asked my children to stay in bed until I come to get them. this gets easier the older they get, when they rarely get up until I make them.
When they were younger, they would have a basket of quiet toys or books that they could play with until I got up. This works great as long as you don't abuse it :)

It's precisely because of the challenges in my life that I need to be ahead of the game in at least a few areas that are within my power to do so (or at least I pretend they are...)

Anonymous said...

ahhhhhh...i just love this! this is just what i have been wanting. thank you again for having us over for pool time and the best salsa and chips! can't wait til next year. - robyn

Laura said...

Debbie, I love this post. I am just catching up on friends' blogs since my recent surgical adventure. My children's daily chores have kept our home running better than I could have imagined. I think that will be the subject of my next blog post. I will never be as organized as you, but some of the bits make a major difference in the quality of our homelife.

busymomof10 said...

Wow! This is totally impressive!! I finally brought myself to read this post, now that summer is almost over and there isn't much danger that I will try to implement your well thought out and productive days!! This would have sounded like me in the old days, but I recovered a little too much from my perfectionism!!! ;) And I must admit that my summer has been nothing short of chaotic!!! However, I haven't had any trouble getting up more than an hour earlier than my kids -- when they didn't have to work, my teen boys have slept until 10 or 11 am! :( Yes, I know I should have gotten them up and given them the work, play, eat schedule . . . but have you ever heard of the saying, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie????

Bobbie-Jo said...

What an inspiring schedule! I bet my kids would slip so nicely into it. I find the bigget obstacle to family peace is *my* self-discipline. Sigh. One day...

I'd sure like to read more about your neat family.

Davene said...

This is amazing. Truly.

And the word "summerize?" Perfect.

Add me to the list of women who want to be like you when I grow up. :)