Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall "break" survival strategies

Is it safe to admit this here? I think so.
I'm bracing myself for fall break.

I love my kids, I do. And I love family time. And I am glad they get two weeks off of school in October. This is supposed to help us cope with shorter summers, and I admit, it really does. October is beautiful here in Indiana. Plus, this is a great time for us to travel, especially as a pastor's family, because there are NO religious holidays!

But still.

There is an image in my mind, perhaps an amalgam of images, in which I am sitting in the kitchen, near tears, with my head in my hands, saying, "How in the world are we going to survive this entire (spring? summer? fall?) break?"

So, self, you know this is coming. Let's take a minute, self, to ask your self, why is this so hard?  And what can we do about it?

Well, self, what do you think will happen when you mix the following things together?
- little kids, accustomed to little-kid pace, little-kid games, and mama's full attention
- big kids who have been to school and therefore know SO much more than little kids
- all kids, with free time, who are now on "break," and interpret that to mean they ought to be having maximum fun 100% of the time
- mama, who wants to facilitate a reasonable amount of fun, but also must remember to keep up with the laundry, dishes, etc; who shouldn't be the only one doing work around here; who simply can't play line-tag and snuggle the baby at the same time; who needs another cup of coffee, again; who just wants us all to survive this week with everyone still loving each other!  Why is that so much to ask?

It's going to be a challenge.
So here's my plan. The way I see it, this will be a great break, if only we can keep three major factors in place.

I must accept my responsibility in this, early on! It is my job to make the expectations clear and enfoce them with consistency.  Daily chores, basic manners: these things have not changed just because our routine has! This part of my job must increase on "break."  If I send mixed signals or get lazy, it will be every man for himself, and war will ensue, and I will be crying in the kitchen again.

So lace up those running shoes, mama.

Oh, the power we have, mothers. We have the power to send them to their rooms. We have the power to cancel the sleepover. And we have the power to ruin an entire vacation if we allow ourselves to succumb to bad attitudes.  We can live like goats, get mad about the mess and clutter, and become generally impossible to please.  Trust me, I'm really good at this. And the temptation to be this way WILL come.

So what helps you change your attitude?
I've found a few things that help me. Prayer is a given.  (God help me be a fun mommy and not a jerk!)  Along with that, I find that it really helps us all if we can find a way to shake things up a bit-- to do something simply unusual.  (This is why I had to throw a party during another break.)

Get outside
- Collect leaves for leaf art while
-go for a walk, hold hands, sing songs
- Send them outside and tell them they can't come back until they collect 5 red leaves, 6 pinecones, 7 flowers, 8 acorns, 9 striped rocks, and 10 spiders
(Do you think they will get distracted along the way? ha.)

Get them laughing
I have big plans for crazy activities.
I'm hoping there will be sometime when nobody's in time-out, they've actually practiced piano, and I'm not frazzled beyond sanity, when we can actually have some fun.

Right now, I have "snowballs" waiting in my garage that I plan to use in a surprise attack.  There's nothing like a surprise attack for shocking them out of bad moods!

For more ideas see my pin board: Things to do with kids
or listen to this song with your kids (What does the fox say)

"Vacation time shouldn't mean vacation from God's Word." Pastor Cook

Do I take a vacation from food or from air? From medicine? Sleep? And yet how much more important is God's Word, for the health of my soul, and that of this family?  If I want to see them as He sees them, to love them with His love, then I must abide with Him, in His Word.

We will need God's help, His Word, His grace.

Thank you for autumn, for changes of season, and for time away from our normal schedules.  Thank you also for being our unchanging God, for your unchanging love for each of us. Grant us patience, compassion, self-control and a sense of humor as we spend time together. Help us to see as you see and love as you love.
In Jesus, Amen.

What challenges do you face during school "breaks?"
What suggestions do you have for the rest of us?

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