Simple Summer - simplesummer

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The Simple Idea of a Simple Summer

I grew up in a family that embraced a simple, uncomplicated lifestyle.  My parents weren’t big on acquiring electronics; we didn’t have a color TV until I was in Kindergarten (1975) and they never bought us an Atari.  We spent summers in the backyard, at the neighborhood pool, and riding bikes with our friends (okay, and doing a fair amount of arguing and whining, I'm sure).

As a consequence (and since I don't work anymore), my husband and I are able to have the same summer-time philosophy.  Our three kids still don’t have a Wii or an X-box, an iTouch, or a Playstation.  They spend most of their summer downtime figuring out what they're going to do, and  they do a fair amount of complaining about being bored.  We sit around a lot and can easily while away whole days doing nothing. 

Most of us stay-at-home moms spend the once-lazy days of summer running around, trying to keep our kids frantically busy with weekly day camps, outings, and full 8-hour days at the pool.  We rationalize this by telling ourselves the kids will be bored without constant activity.  But a few summers ago, I asked a 9 year old friend if he was excited for summer and all the fun camps he was scheduled to attend.  He replied, "well, going to all those camps is JUST LIKE SCHOOL.  We don't have any time to play."  I realized this was exactly what I was doing to my own children:  overscheduling. 

If you have the opportunity to be at home with your kids during their vacations, then there's nothing wrong with a Simple Summer.  I have 3 children that can bicker and fight like nobody's business, but we still have more fun when we're not in and out of the car trying to "do something" all the time.   Sure, they enjoy a few weeks of camps in the summer; but many more weeks stretch out ahead of us, deliciously empty and waiting to be filled with low-tech fun.

Unplug.  Simplify.  It's Summer!

TODAY, and What We Might Be Doing

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Favorite sites

Pebble Tossers: Service Projects for Kids!
Barnes and Noble books
Atlanta-Fulton Public Library
North Fulton Shops (coupons!)
Online Music Flash Cards
Sweet Apple Elementary
Local Harvest
Family Fun website
Kids Craft Weekly
Free Kids' Book Program at Barnes and Noble
Picture Show @ Merchant's Exchange (cheap movies)


If you dread summer because your kids are constantly asking "can we watch TV?" then here is your solution. I've done this for 2 summers and this will be our 3rd. My kids love to watch TV and would sit there all day if I let them. This system has worked like a charm for them...they are all different personalities and very, very crafty about getting their own ways. It eliminates arguments and keeps me from being the bad guy who won't let them watch TV.

Here's how it works. Make a slit in the top of a shoebox.  Make 4 tickets for each child. Use a different color of construction paper for each kid and write their name on each one. You can make more or less tickets (each is good for one show, or 30 min. of TV time) but be realistic; 30 min. is barely enough time for you to check email, so 2 hours a day is not too much! Summer days are loooong.

Explain to the kids that they have control over when they want to watch TV. They don't even have to ask you; all they do is put in a ticket, and they can watch a 30 min. show. A movie is 3 tickets (you can make it 4 if you want). When the tickets are gone, no more TV for that day. The next morning, they get 4 more tickets.

Don't make the ticket system complicated. Don't let kids earn or lose tickets for good/bad behavior. Don't let tickets carry over into the next day (it's use it, or lose it.) Don't start trying to barter for tickets or otherwise control it; you have to give the kids control or it doesn't work right. It's 4 tickets a day, and that's it. Trust me on that!

The first few days the kids are going to come and wake you up at 6 a.m. to see if they can watch TV. Don't get up; tell them they can put a ticket in any time they want, and remind them one ticket = one show. You might have to monitor this at first (just remind them when a new show starts to get up and put another ticket in the box). They're probably going to go watch 4 shows in a row before breakfast, and then it might get ugly later in the day. Stick to the rules, don't compromise, don't let them "earn" extra tickets, or you're going to blow it for yourself. In a few days, they will figure it out (even the slow ones). Pretty soon you will put them to bed, look at the box, and realize they didn't even use all 4 tickets for the day. It's hilarious.

Remember, don't complicate it and it works just fine. Enjoy a peaceful summer, and good luck!

Kiawah Island Summer 2011

You Do Need To Schedule Some Simple Things...

As great as it is to relax at home, we all need to get out of the house occasionally.  Go ahead and write in a few days of outings on your calendar.  Pick things that aren't going to make you crazy, but that your kids enjoy.  For example, I've put down a few days to take all 3 kids to Monkey Joes for the morning.  We might also schedule in a few dollar-movie days.  But I'm realistic about how much to take on; I leave things like the Aquarium or ice skating for dates when my husband can join me (otherwise I would be a raving lunatic after the first hour in).

If I've Checked It Twice, I've Checked It 150 Times

It's inevitable that, sometime in the next 15 or 20 minutes, one of your children will say, "I'm bored."  (It's going to sound more like, "I'm BOOOORRRREEEDDD," and be accompanied by slumped-over shoulders and a glazed look in the eyes.)

Be prepared for the boredom routine with your Magic List.  Take a large piece of poster board and a bright marker, and sit down NOW with your kids to create a list of things to do when they are bored.  Let them direct the list-making.  You can make suggestions, such as: shoot baskets, draw a cartoon, run in the sprinkler, play foursquare, play a board game or cards, read the comics, build a city out of Legos, set up a clothing store for Barbie to shop in, play princess dress-up, or make a Playdough ice cream store.

Hang your list in the kitchen, and when they say the B-word...simply point your finger and smile.

A Plug for Priorities

The simplest thing we can do to simplify our lives this summer is to get our priorities in order.  Don't forget to worship as a family and spend time praying with, and for, one another.  We are so blessed to have the time and resources to enjoy the summer, and every other day of the year.  Look around you and appreciate all that the Lord provides. Take time to give thanks for all you have, and all you have to give someone else! 

Our Family



Roswell, GA

In the Pool: Walker!

Jeff fishing

Jackson at Clemson U. Basketball Camp

Kathryn's First Flight

Seabrook Island 2012

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4/23/2014 3:11:20 PM