Summertime Open Thread

July 21, 2006

Editor’s Note: Thanks for the diary, Mkkendrick! What are you and your children doing this summer, fellow MTers? -Elisa

I teach tenth grade English, so from August till June I am a working mother.  For two precious months each year, I become a stay-at-home mom.  It is during these two months that I get a taste of the tremendously difficult job that is stay-at-home momhood.  I love my boys and I treasure the fun we have in the summer, but there are also times when I think I’ll lose my mind because of the tedium of staying home and trying to keep two kids under five productively occupied.
In summers past, I have relied a great deal on my car to help fill the time.  We drove to the mall, to the book store, to the museum, into the city to have lunch with Daddy, to Target, to the coffee shop, etc.  Any car trip would do.  This summer, I resolved to limit my use of the car (global warming, gas prices, etc.)  We do go to the pool, and we’ve made some library trips and a trip to the nature preserve, but I’ve definitely cut down on the number of unnecessary trips I make just to entertain the kids.  

Of course, this means spending a lot more time in the house.  Now, since my kids spend ten months of the year in daycare, they’re not used to being home all the time either, and at first we struggled.  By trial and error, however, got better at filling the days with fun activity.  I’ve learned what times of day are the best for going outside.  I’ve learned that a bowl of water goes a long way to entertain a toddler.  I’ve learned that sometime you just have to be silly and march around the house singing about ants.

The best strategy so far–let the boys figure it out for themselves.  The almost-five-year old has gotten good at filling his time creatively. (The 17-month old has a way to go, because, well, he’s 17 months old)  

After watching cartoons for a little bit this morning, the older boy spent about 45 minutes in his room, sorting through books and making a pile of books he wanted to read for the day.  After breakfast, he got me to join him in a “band” performance in the living room.  He played the drum and I sang for an imaginary audience. Other things he did this am–read to himself, drew a picture, listened to music in his room, completed a puzzle, and built fighter jets with his tinker toys.  And all this happened with no initiative on my part–it all came from him, simply because he had the time and freedom to do so.  

Unfortunately, the toddler is now entertaining himself by attacking his brother.  Got to go!