I was at my wit's end with the cries and moans of boredom and "It's not fair!" and "Can I have a snack?" Worse is the dreaded "Are we doing anything today?" Because, apparently, if every day isn't like Hershey Park at our house, then life is just not worth living. And since we were hoping to be moved by now, we didn't renew our pool membership this year, which lengthens our days even more. Additionally, the prohibitive price of gas has canceled both of our planned vacations this summer-one to Jeff's parents and one to my sister's in Grand Rapids. So we are homebound in the truest sense of the word for the next few months.
So the wheels of my brain started turning. Most of you know that we live a pretty structured life in our house. My kids know nothing but routine, structure, organization, etc. I am a firm believer that they thrive in an environment where they know what to expect, what is expected of them, and when and where things will happen. Unfortunately, as the kids have gotten older and more self-sufficient, we have tended to let things slide a bit in the schedule department.
But, yesterday, I decided that was crazy! In fact, it's quite possible that they need even more structure and direction during the summer because otherwise their days are just wide open endless hours of opportunities to argue, bicker, complain, whine, and vegetate into lumps of apathy. We routinely tell our kids "Only boring people are bored.", and apparently, our house is chock full of boring people right now!
So, starting next week, we are implementing some structure at the VeStrands. Jeff and I have talked through all this, and we are on the same page. Now all we have to do is convince the kids how wonderful this is going to be! :-) Here's how the Summer of 2008 is going to go at our house.
1. Each child will read quietly 30 minutes per day. Three of our kids are avid readers and the other is doing MUCH better in this area, so this shouldn't be too hard. The three older kids also have summer reading they are required to do for school.
2. Each child will read the Proverb that coincides with the date. Jeff and I will be doing the same, and Jeff is going to set up a web group that only our family can access so that each day everyone can post at least one sentence about what they learned from their scripture reading for the day. I initially thought we would use journals, but I think the web group will be more fun and appealing for the kids. (I will say that I wrestled a bit with "requiring" time in God's word. I would much rather that they desire this on their own. But I also realize that they need help and direction making this a habit so we are going to give this a try.)
3. Between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m., there will be no television, computer, or video games for anyone. Hopefully this will encourage a peaceful evening meal, game playing, book reading, etc.
4. As the kids have gotten older, we have struggled to find "consequences" that stick and encourage heart change, not just mere behavioral change. Sending our kids to their rooms isn't really a punishment in this house. (Is it in any house? I wish someone would send me to my room a few times every day!) And we are pretty much past the spanking era; although we have used that appropriately many times in the past 16 years!
So, we will be implementing the "Job Jar". Jeff and I have compiled quite a list of "unusual" jobs (jobs that the kids don't already help with), and each job will be written on a piece of paper then go into the jar. When someone argues, talks back, treats another person disrespectfully, etc., he or she will be directed to choose a job out of the jar and complete it immediately. When the job is done and appropriate apologies have been made, the child will be free to return to whatever he or she was doing. Just in case you're wondering, some of the jobs in the jar include:
- sweep out both garages
- wipe out refrigerator
- separate the laundry
- wipe down the washer and dryer
- clean and/or organize one drawer in your bedroom
- windex van/car windows
- wipe down the kitchen cabinets
5. Finally, snacks will be at 10:30, 2:30 and 7:30. Grazing on cookies and Little Debbie snacks is not permitted. Carrots, grapes and other healthy snacks may be eaten at any time.
I will keep you posted. Rest assured, I have no delusions of grandeur here. This whole fancy scheme could be defunct by next Wednesday. What do you do in your house to beat the summer blues?
And, on a positive note: when I was in Wal-mart yesterday, I saw the school supplies going out! :-) This can't last forever.........