Moms Talk: School Ending, Now What?
How will you transition from a structured day to a free and easy summer? Some words of wisdom from the Moms Council.
Question: School ends next week. How do you expect to make the transition from the structure of a school day to the open schedule of summer?
Answer: Tricia Kelly
I’d like to be a fly in someone else’s kitchen when the glossy brochures are laid out on the table and the kids get to choose their summer activities. NOGA soccer camp? St. Andrew’s tennis? Community sailing? ACT theater?
I imagine your kids jumping for joy at the endless possibilities; I’ve heard some kids just can’t choose. Not our kids. Their reaction is always: “Do we have to?”
My kids are home-bodies, through and through. When that bell rings on the last day of school, they want to run home and stay put until September. And I get it.
I’m a teacher, so I gleefully sing back-up to Connor’s air guitar rendition of Alice Cooper’s “School’s out…for the summer.” I know I’m tired of asking (and they’re tired of hearing) if they’ve made-their-bed-brushed-their-teeth-brushed-their-hair-had-their-breakfast-and-made-their-lunch all before 7:30 am. I’ve rinsed cereal bowls in the sink all year with our back yard hammock taunting me through the kitchen window, and I dream of the lazy summer day when I get to climb in with all those back issues of Oprah Magazine (or maybe even one of Anika’s suggestions for a grown-up book!)
We love our neighborhood where the doorbell rings forty-five seconds after we get home because Jackson was watching out the window for our car. We love the chalk village created on the driveway, the impromptu games of kick-the-can, the battery powered kids’ Jeep pulled over to the side of the road. We LOVE our neighbor’s pool, a family bike ride to Del’s, a late afternoon walk at Barrington Beach.
We love it all….until, inevitably, one of the kids stops, looks around, and says “I’m bored.” Is there another phrase in the English language that irks us more than this one?
It puts me over the edge. And so, we’ve learned that summer is the great balancing act of planned activities and unscheduled downtime. We’ll spend two weeks at Grandma’s house in Ohio, another week or two with family in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. They each chose one week of a local camp, and my two older kids go to fabulous sleep-away camps at the end of July.
In between it all, they will hang out in their PJs, read books up in tree branches, make up dance routines on the patio. And as for me, eventually I’ll put down my celebratory air guitar, pick up a book, and climb in the hammock. See you in September.
Answer: Anika Denise
I expect the transition to be smooth, for the first few days, until the euphoria of not having to get up early and dash to the bus ebbs away and the complaining starts.
Then I expect to hear a lot of, "Mom, we're bored," followed by me saying something not particularly helpful like, "How can you be bored with all those toys and a whole neighborhood full of kids to play with?"
After that I expect we'll try trekking to the beach with two kids and a three-month old which will be a harrowing, sandy, exhausting endeavor that we will nonetheless undertake more than once because it's summer, dammit, and we're going to enjoy it!
I expect we'll eventually get into a groove of unstructured time and appreciate it. We'll take trips to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and and up to the Adirondacks to see family. We'll swim in lakes, boogie-board in oceans, get soft-serve ice cream, watch fireworks, and read books — lots and lots of books.
And I expect when August 29th draws near, I'll be struck with those familiar mixed feelings that vacation is ending far too soon... and not soon enough.
Answer: Kristen Materne
With the end of the school year comes a flurry of activity – field trips, outdoor day, performances, class parties, it seems like there’s something every day. So, I think next week, when school is finally out, will be a relief. But I don’t expect the relief to last long.
Sure, it will be nice not to have to wake up and rush the morning to get ready for the trip to the bus stop. But I know that after a few days of no structure, the kids will be antsy and getting on each other’s nerves and it will be time for a plan.
We do have some things planned. The kids are both signed up for town camps, and there are other morning camps that they will attend during the summer. But that only takes care of the mornings during those weeks. That leaves them the rest of the day to wonder what to do.
The trick, for me, is to make a smaller scale plan for the rest of the time. Last summer, both kids participated in the library reading program, and received passes to local places as prizes. We made a point of using those passes at least once a week. Using the passes, we visited some places we had never been. I had never even thought of visiting Green Animals in Middletown, but it was a wonderful afternoon trip for us and the kids really enjoyed working their way through the place using the map provided at the gate.
Save the Bay in Newport was a great experience for the kids as well. As cliché as it sounds, there are many, many things to do around here, and we never think to do them. Planning a couple of afternoons a week for that kind of excursion is a great diversion and it does break up the day a bit.