i have people ask me often if summer is hard with four young kids at home. my answer- YES! But i LOVE it! i love having everyone here and, truth be told, if i thought that the Lord was leading me to home school... i could get pretty excited about it (insert my SHOCKED face here).
they are loud, they are crazy, they even brought me to tears early this week, but i love having them close:
i love that i get to see allie step up to lead her brothers, sing worship songs at the top of her lungs, and dance all over the house.
i love that caleb is here to share his imaginative stories, sword fight and hold my hand ALOT
i love that riley and griffin get to be with the older two
there is alot more laughing
there is alot more teaching
there is alot more need for me to dive into God's word and beg Him for guidance each day!
there is no secret sauce for getting through the summer months... i know, i've looked for it! and last year i felt like my plan was good, but it needed a little changing. however, there are a few things you can do to create an atmosphere of peace and unity. here are a few nuggets that i've learned from those that have gone before me. we are practicing them in our home and they are working (at least for now)...
family time with God:
there is no specific time or even way of doing this. we have had this time in our living room, the back yard, and on my bed all this week. can you tell i like flexibility in a schedule? the first week of summer the kids each decorated a journal that would be a place for them to draw or write anything that they were thinking during their time with God. i provide quiet music, pencils, crayons, and several kid bibles. i read one story (his pick) to my four year old and then we are all on our own. i read my bible and i let the kid's time look however they want. Allie has drawn everything while caleb is copying a story and has included no pictures. they can also just listen to the music that is playing. i try to have no rules... it's their time with God. we typically do this after breakfast, but i feel the freedom to shake it up too.
bringing all four under one roof again was bound to bring alot of crazy. i decided that we would study the fruit of the spirit this summer. and with that came a spirit stick. they all participated in decorating a section of it. to hear more about how this works in our family, check out this post.
every kid needs time to him/herself. and momma does FOR SURE! make it a priority that for at least an hour each day your kids are "resting." i only have one napper left in my tribe, but the others still have time in their room to play or read quietly. if you aren't doing this, start today! it may take your kiddos a week or so to adjust to such a thing, but they will and you'll be so glad you made the switch!
table top time:
sometimes everyone is crazy and the fighting is too much. when this happens, i call an audible. i shout in my nicest voice :), "table top time." my kids know that means to drop whatever they are currently doing and come to the table. i will pull out a board game, card game, puzzle, play dough... you name it. it's my choice and we all do it together. that usually resets unity amongst siblings and gives them my attention if they were lacking it.
more kids being home all day means that there will be more mess all day long. you, momma, will lose it quickly if you don't have a plan for messy house. you have to find a chore method that works for your family. here is what it looks like for us as of now: from age four and older everyone is responsible for 1. getting dressed 2. brushing teeth 3. making your bed (i expect more from the olders and less from the little guy) 4. pjs put away or in dirty clothes. those four things are done everyday whether it is summer or not... it is almost always can not be negotiated. during the summer, everyone has a morning chore and an evening chore. morning chores change and i decide based on what i need (taking out the trash, unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming one room, sweeping, taking sheets off the bed, etc). evening chores rotate through setting the table, clearing the table, and helping cook. google "chore chart printables" and you will find a ton of free stuff that you can turn into a magnet and make life easier on you while teaching your little guys about responsibility!
one fun activity:
there are many days that we swim, take a bike ride, eat out for lunch, etc. however, on the days that you and the kids are home all day and no one comes over.... have some ideas and the supplies tucked away for a surprise activity. it doesn't have to be over the top. last week i bought some koolaid packets because i heard you could water paint with them. i waited for a quiet day and we did that after rest time... it was super fun, easy, and cheap! if you would like to try it, check it out here.
that's how we are spending our summer! we've got a super flexible routine that tells them what to expect, helps me feel ahead of the chaos, and still lends itself to total fun!!