Listen, I don’t think I’m a good mom, and I’ve failed to follow every summer activity list I’ve ever cut out of a magazine. We’re an awesome house. But we’re a crazy house.
At first I thought I shouldn’t write this piece at all. But then I thought of my many friends who speak candidly about raising kids. Ladies who share the good, the bad, the ugly, and the flat out bizarre.
And then I decided there might be more of us out there—people whose shoulders drop under the weight of defeat in late August, when they look at the list of all they wanted to do, realizing none of it worked out.
Maybe I can write this piece after all.
If your house is normal, you might need a different post. If you’re right in the middle of crazy too, read on. Let’s figure out how to rock this summer.
I love the idea of summer vacation. Free time with the kids, sleep in, relax… But within the first week, it all starts falling apart. Kids fighting, eating what little junk food there is in one sitting, coming home from hours at the park saying, “I’m bored.” Really? What’s up with all that? Help!
And then it dawned on me. What if what I think is fun is not fun for them at all? Do I really know what matters most for my kids?
That’s how I came up with this craft—the “What Matters Most” coupons.
This is similar to the coupons kids bring home from school for Mother’s Day. Here’s the difference: kids get coupons from mom too and you decide what should be on the coupons together.
So how does it work? Get a pack of 3×5 cards and give each kid 20 cards—10 for things you will do for them, and 10 for things they will do for you. Have alone time with each kid to create the coupons, so they don’t get interrupted when trying to get their ideas out.
Then bring everyone together and read the cards out loud. Why? If one sibling decides someone else’s idea was better, they can alter one of their coupon.
Mom coupons may say things like: mom will play Xbox with me for an hour; mom will stay off the computer all night; mom will leave her phone in the car next time we go out; mom will participate in a water balloon/water gun fight.
Kid coupons may say things like: kid will not interrupt mom when mom is on the phone talking to her sister; kid will not say “I’m bored” all day; kid will pose for a picture with siblings and/or parents; kid will let parent sleep until 9 a.m.
Do you think that could work?
I think it might. You know why? Because even if it fails, it works.
In putting the cards together, you spend one-on-one time with each kid, learn more about them, and send a clear message that what’s important to them is important to you.
If you go out to do something that your little girl wants to do, like take the dog to the dog park, and things end badly, not all is lost. Even if a bird poops on her hair on the way there, and she freaks out and doesn’t want to do anything else for the rest of the day but frown (this may or may not have happened), the message of the coupon is still valid. She likes taking the dog to the dog park with you—with or without a coupon—and probably in the summer, fall, winter and spring.
You can hit the dog park another time, when Murphy is taking a nap or on a summer vacation of his own. Just be sure to do it. If you’re reading this blog, you know that.
What matters most for your kids? This craft will tell you, and the answers may surprise you.
Happy summer, Moms! Hang in there. You can do it.
Patricia Beal writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature, and A Season to Dance is her debut novel (May 2017). Visit her at www.patriciabeal.com.