We had the longest school year ever this year, and our last day of school was June 29th.
Including weekends, today was our twentieth day of summer vacation.
And that’s how long it took me to reach my breaking point.
The kids have been home for three weeks, but it feels like three months.
I have been working my butt off for twenty days to try and create a summer full of experiences and memories for my kids.
So the last twenty days have been exceptionally busy.
Among other things, I have taught 30 swim lessons, written 21 blog posts, completed a triathlon,
spent one day at Compo Beach,
another day at Kent Falls,
gone to five days of swim meets, taken the kids to a water park,
visited a new playground,
and run a total of 30+ miles.
I basically moved from one level of chaos and partial insanity to another one.
Working from home and having five kids thirteen and under at home all day every day means I have much less time to work in peace and quiet than I do during the school year. It also means the kids are home for like 40 more hours every week than they normally are.
That means more other stuff. More dishes. Somehow it means more laundry. More mess in general.
In the busy-ness of the last twenty days, my kids’ attitudes and behavior have gradually declined.
The willingness to help out has decreased almost exponentially.
I’d like to blame them, but this is really all my doing.
I have allowed it to happen.
So today, when I was out teaching the third lesson of the day in the pool in the back yard and I came inside and nothing had been cleaned up, the kitchen looked like squatters had been living in it for the last three months, there was food on the floor in the mudroom, one of the kids was sitting on the couch playing X-Box,and one was crying because she couldn’t find a towel, it took every ounce self-control not to completely lose my shit.
And then when one kid sprayed another one in the face with Lysol, well, that was the breaking point.
And so today, on day twenty of summer vacation, the light bulb went off. I had an a-ha moment. An epiphany.
I had to make some changes.
I want my kids to have a great summer. I really do.
And I want to make some really fun memories for them. And with them.
But it seems that the more activities I plan and the more special experiences I arrange, the less grateful my kids become.
Doing fun stuff goes from being a treat and a privilege to being an expectation.
I want to blame this on my kids, but really, it is my fault.
I have allowed this to happen.
Because things have been so busy, I have slacked off on my expectations for the kids at home, and I have also relaxed — A LOT — on the technology limitations.
I want to be able to do fun things with the kids once or twice a week. And I want them to be able to sleep in and chill out a little bit.
But that doesn’t mean they should do absolutely nothing all day long.
Which is almost what has happened. I haven’t held the kids accountable for helping out around the house. I have not been consistent.
This has resulted in an attitude of ingratitude and entitlement.
And I 100% believe there is a correlation between technology usage and behavior. I have not been consistent with limitations on the technology.
At the beginning of the summer I made a calendar. I scheduled a bunch of stuff for us to do together for the month of July.
There is nothing wrong with this calendar. I still love it.
But what I should have done is made it clear that the activities on the calendar are things we can do as a family provided that we take care of our regular day-to-day activities.
And I didn’t do that.
On the calendar, Friday’s are “Friend Friday” where the kids can invite a friend over.
Tomorrow we had a bunch of kids scheduled to come over.
And then the Lysol spraying happened.
It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
And so, on the way to swim practice tonight, I had a talk with the kids.
I told them I was canceling the playdates.
I told them what I should have told them when I initially shared the calendar with them.
That just because the calendar exists, it does not mean they are guaranteed to do everything listed on it.
When you are an adult, you can’t just go on vacation whenever you want. You have to work and save up money to pay for it.
And right now, they haven’t really earned any money to “pay” for their vacation.
I felt terrible texting the moms of the kids’ friends, telling them I was canceling the playdates, and disappointing all their friends.
But it had to be done.
My kids are pretty active. They are swimming on two swim teams this summer. One is a fun, town team, and the other is the more intense club team that they swim for.
So I have justified or rationalized the relaxed technology limits because I know they aren’t completely inactive. They get plenty of exercise.
But this very relaxed attitude regarding technology, especially when I am trying to get work done, has created problem.
I know this.
I KNOW THIS.
So I’m a little annoyed with myself for allowing it to happen.
In the past week, I have read quite a few articles about simplifying, and about how kids don’t play outside nearly as much as they did in summers 3o or 40 years ago. About how kids need to bored. How they need to find ways to entertain themselves.
And yet, I haven’t done that.
Today put a ban on all technology.
I am collecting every device. I am collecting every remote.
But for the next several days, at least.
At some point I’ll reintroduce limited technology privileges.
But not until the kids spend plenty of time practicing communicating and cooperating and working and contributing and appreciating and entertaining themselves.
And when that happens, I’ll text all their friends back.
And then we’ll give Friend Friday, and all the other stuff on our summer calendar, another shot.