Summer Rules

When one’s life is taken up with caring for others, there constantly seems to be a waiting period.  Once they finish school, things will relax.  Once we get through these end of the year activities, summer can begin.  And then you get through those things and life is neither relaxed nor does quintessential summer seem to have begun.

Our first day was glorious.  Bodies still primed to wake up fairly early, we – all but one sleepyhead – rose and readied for the beach.  There was also the excitement of sleepyhead’s birthday, complete with a special outing in the evening.

Then reality set in.

My idea of a relaxing morning is very different from theirs.  An unhurried cup of hot tea vs unfettered screen time to the tune of annoying sound bites run on repeat.

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I reinstituted the regimen of last summer – to their chagrin.  The Summer Rules.  Their list of required tasks before electronic devices can be had.

The first day, they attacked the list with gusto, feeling accomplished as well as determined for the end goal.  That did not last.  By Day Three, it had become a fight.  With them doing the work-around of school computers to practice math and then access Pinterest or music.  Or doing the bare minimum or doubling up on chores.

It had become something else for me to do – policing them – instead of a way to occupy their bodies and minds other than electronically.  And once they earned their screen time, they seemed to devour it like addicts for the rest of the day, which to me, defeated the very purpose of keeping them away.  However, they’d probably be like that all day if not for the list.

Our rules need some tweaks, some personalization for our family.  ‘Helping others’ doesn’t speak to the actual chores they’re responsible for each day.  ‘Clean up one room’ is pretty vague, though they actually vacuumed their room one morning.  But having a list at all is a lot less vague than me walking around angry because all they do is stare at their screens.

Without structure, all life would be a waiting period – waiting for something to happen.  So our Summer Rules provide some structure to our days – even if they infuriate all of us to a certain degree.

Inspiration Vacation

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

                                                        ~ Pablo Picasso

Pablo frowned on me as I fell asleep on the couch beside my daughter watching Nick Jr. Strains of the Bubble Guppies floated in and out of my consciousness as I fought to open my eyes. It was not a restful sleep.

I’d already tended to the water needs of my newly transplanted shrubs and vegetable garden. We’d seen her two elder sisters off to the bus stop. I’d ordered groceries online. I’d done stuff. But I hadn’t made my cup of tea and parked my keister at the writing table.

Which makes me nervous for this summer.

Right now it’s only one kid; in a week and a half, it will be three.

How do I write when they’re all here? Or to distill it even further – how do I keep them busy to buy myself writing time?

Don’t want to plop them in front of TV – because I still have that whole ‘rotting their brains’ hang-up and they’ll most likely pinch and poke each other while they watch and I don’t want Donald and Daisy counting their Toodles options as a running soundtrack to my work.

I’d rather have them invested in a somewhat productive, independent venture – but what would that be? Or to distill it even further – what would actually stick and buy me a solid chunk of uninterrupted time?

Writer moms and dads – preach! Please!

I have a feeling it will take a little bit of neglect, ignoring, and nasty sugar-laden treats. Or a trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Only hot, sticky summer days will tell.

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