Be Awesome, Quit for the Summer

Summer started early around here. Stress levels were at an all-time high, the sun was shining, and we’d hit our state-mandated 180 days of school for the year. So I hit the QUIT button and immediately heard, “Mom you’re the most awesome mom ever!!”

I don’t know what you intend to accomplish over the summer–rest, reading, a tan (!), school planning–but my plans have changed. I recently stumbled across Brandy’s Mother’s Education and Mother Culture posts and am going to pull from them a little, instead of my earlier (insane) plan to read everything my oldest will read next school year so I can get ahead. Yeah, just writing that out reminds me how crazy a plan that was.

Instead, I’m going to do some self-care and spend some significant time letting the kids roam free, while I read books I want to read. During the school year, I get some solid reading done for myself, too, but I’m always feverishly trying to stay one step ahead of my 10-year-old who reads twice as fast as me.

2017 Summer Book List:

  •  The Family Herbal from Brandy’s list. I have a bunch of farm-y friends whose knowledge of herbs puts me to shame. This is my attempt to catch up, and hopefully glean some knowledge that can keep my family healthier this next year.
  •  Finishing Norms & Nobility with my dear book club, a re-read for me, but so much more fun to discuss with friends, even if we’re spread across the country.
  •  The End of Diabetes since I recently found out I’m on the edge of gestational diabetes. Can we all just cry about that for a sec? Seriously. No more Skittles or Twizzlers in my life is an absolute tragedy. This book is already challenging me to try new recipes and add a TON of veggies to our diet. They’re surprisingly delicious and filling so far.
  •  Robinson Crusoe. I just have a few chapters to finish from this school year. Maybe I can convince the oldest to finish it in his free time, too. He’d have to spend actual waking minutes away from his Rick Riordan books, and he hasn’t even started with Percy Jackson. Wish me luck.
  •  Home Education Charlotte Mason’s volume 1. I’m restarting this one after setting it on the back shelf a while ago. I’ve read a few books now, about what Charlotte Mason taught, not enough of her actual words. So I’m determined to get through at least one of her volumes before school starts.
  • The Accidental Creative is an off-topic, semi-random read for me. I enjoy Todd Henry’s podcast of the same name, so I thought I’d check out his first book. Though he speaks to an audience of designers, writers, artists, and other creative-types, I’m finding quite a few tidbits I can apply to life as a homeschooling mom.
  • Lastly, Howard Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights since we’re reading it this upcoming year and I’m too cheap and minimal-ish to grab us another copy, I’d better get ahead of my oldest on this one before he knows we’re reading it. I love literature set in the Middle Ages, so I’m super excited for this one. Some others I’ve liked that I’d put in the same category are Pyle’s Men of Iron and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The White Company (which happens to have a great Audible version). You might enjoy them too.

Summer Chores

Quitting for the summer doesn’t mean the house falls apart, though. We’re spending this time focusing on chore habits and learning new skills in the chores I’ll expect them all to complete throughout the next school year. We’ve tried Dave Ramsey’s commission chore charts and paying the older kids for chores, but unfortunately, if the kids don’t have a drive to make money, the chores don’t get done. So we’ve had to switch it up and require specific chores from each kid, every day, before they can have any screen time. Sorry Dave, cartoons are a bigger motivator than dollars. Blissfuly for me, a Netflix subscription is way cheaper than paying the kids for chores anyway.

The rule during the school year is that school and chores have to be done before screen time. They’re just now realizing that chores will never, ever, stop during their lifetimes; that includes summer break. So the only change to the house rule during the summer is that chores have to be done during screen time. Ask me how well this works after they’ve spent 3 weeks visiting grandparents this July and are expected to pick back up with chores once they get home!

The way we’re doing it this year:

  • 10-year-old:
    • Load the dishwasher (all day as needed). This is his new skill chore.
    • Empty dishes that go in high cabinets & breakable stuff. We call these “grown-up” dishes
    • Kitchen trash
    • Clear dining table of food/books
  • 5-year-old
    • Water the dog (all day as needed)
    • Empty kid dishes
    • Cycle laundry (all day as needed). This includes putting clothes in the washer, starting washer & dryer, switching clothes from washer to dryer, and putting baskets of clean laundry on my bed. I pour the soap, because I’m not crazy, but by the end of the school year, I bet she’ll do this on her own, too. This is her new skill chore.
    • Wash dining table after big bro has cleared it
  • Almost 4-year-old
    • Tidy the kid bookshelf. This has board books and picture books, and is a great occupational therapy skill for her to practice balance, maneuvering objects, etc. Definitely her new skill chore.
    • Feed the dog in the morning.
  • 2-year-old
    • Gather laundry off floors and put in the dirty laundry basket in the laundry room.
    • Feed the dog in the evening.

Two notes: 1) Everyone is required to make their bed and tidy their room. The 3 youngest share a room. They’re all responsible for it if they want screen time. Even the 2-year-old has to make her bed (i.e. make sure her blankets and stuffed animals are at least on the bed instead of in the middle of the kitchen floor). And 2) splitting up the feeding the dog chore has been amazing. They no longer fight over who gets to feed him, since they know they each have a chance every day.

That’s it for our summer plans. Have you quit school for the summer yet? Post your summer reads below–I have no doubt my summer reading list will grow!

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