I have a friend who loves summer vacation. She loves when her kids are home, and they have no place to be and no schedules to follow. She loves to just kick back in the yard, sit in the sun, and watch her kid run around.
That’s not me.
Truth is, summer terrifies me.
I can’t remember when that started. Maybe it was the summer when we moved here – Howie was 4 months old, Gerry was 4 years old and we didn’t know anyone. Howie was a tough baby, and would only sleep on me, wouldn’t take a bottle and cried a lot. We were pretty much trapped in the house and didn’t know what to do. Trips to the park were tough because I couldn’t watch Gerry and take care of Howie’s needs too. That got harder as Howie got older, and I tried hard to find things to do ahead of time for Gerry so he wasn’t stuck with us. He did camp after camp after camp until he was finally so burnt out on activities he wouldn’t leave the house. Last summer was the hardest by far – with a 9 month old Lewis and his naps thrown in the mix of the chaos, I was desperate for school to start again in September.
But something about this summer makes me more nervous. Howie has done such an amazing transformation through his school routine. His transition tantrums are less, he’s completely toilet trained (yea!!), and he has learned very good coping strategies for dealing with his sensory issues. Of course, that is with a very scripted school schedule, a one-on-one aide, and OT and special education supports all day long. On school days, I just had to fill in the gaps – time before school and the few hours afterwards until bedtime. Now that’s all gone. Add in Gerry home and wanting to do his things, and Lewis at the age when he refuses to just sit in a stroller at the park while I chase Howie everywhere, plus needing to be home between noon and two everyday for Lewis’ naps…I’m going crazy just thinking about it.
Howie’s only been home for one morning so far and has already needed four sensory breaks, been through 5 cups of juice (his calming mechanism), asked for 15 hugs and spent some time in his body sock. This is after already going to the supermarket and playing kickball outside with Tim before he left for work. It’s not even noon.
I’ve seen other people’s blogs where they’ve talked about their completely scripted summer days to help their child make it through each moment. We talked with Howie’s teachers and they agreed that as much routine and scheduling as we can do would be beneficial, so when he starts to spiral out of control we can bring him back to the picture schedule and show him what is coming next. I know he needs that predictability, that understanding of what is happening so he can regulate himself.
But it’s not me. And it’s not my life with my three boys. Life is going to get in the way. Lewis may need a nap earlier because he was up all night (like last night) and our entire plan may need to change. Playdates, rain, extreme heat – all will change our plans.
I will try to set up a daily schedule and leave some flexibility for plan changes. I’m trying to think of at least one thing to do each day to get us out – today supermarket, tomorrow Target for diapers. I’ve hired a mother’s helper to come be with just him for an hour or two twice a week, and summer school starts back in July with a shorten version of the school schedule. And I will hope for the best.
Meanwhile, is it September yet?
“School’s out forever
School’s out for summer
School’s out with fever
School’s out completely” - School’s Out by Alice Cooper