Anyway, the kids were at each other's throats from the second they got up. We made it through breakfast, then went out to do a couple of quick errands (lasting all of half an hour, during which the kids didn't behave well at all), then came home and I sent them to their rooms while I made lunch. I called them down to lunch and we had a talk about starting the day over, and how the summer is what we make of it, so let's make it fun!
Our new attitude lasted about an hour, then they deteriorated into bickering again. I know that the key to changing this is to have activities planned, but if we go on some big excursion tomorrow I'll feel like I'm rewarding their awful behavior! I'm trying to think of it as restoring my sanity instead, since I cannot tolerate another day like today. What do you think? Would you wipe the slate clean for tomorrow? Also, I simply can't plan a big thing for every single day -- how do I make it through more unscheduled days without all this chaos??
Man. I hear you, I remember the one year I thought I had a whole week left until school was out (but I was wrong - and had just mis-labeled my calendar ).
We started out with a mini-vacation this year right after school let out, so I think it wasn't so bad right away. BUT I found it was helpful using some indulgences to break into the summer - think ice cream outings or big home-cooked pancake breakfast with the looong days together at home.
And about halfway into the week I made a loose schedule with dd1 for 'summertime days'. We planned out X amount time cleaning up stuff in the morning and X amount of reading time (this also happens to coordinate with times I can do a workout video at home or similar). Then some fun activity after all that stuff and breakfast is eaten (or tv allowed). And similar kind of activities for the afternoon. I broke it up with short solo-cleaning and group cleaning up of the house, plus sometimes make a checklist for the kids to do together. And we have to keep reading lists for school as well, so we need to keep up on that and get in the reading time.
It's kinda great to wake up to someone cleaning up all on their own every so often, and I haven't policed the schedule too much but mainly only if anyone is coming to me saying they don't know what to do. I also try to do 1 errand outing, 1 'more fun' outing on a more weekly basis (we all kinda need lots of home time, so a minimum of outings works for us - mostly we'd just play around the backyard or do a big movie day instead of going places).
I do want to say, I made yesterday super special for them. I helped out with class parties, wrote celebratory messages on the car windows with glass markers, took them out for milkshakes, and took them on our new favorite activity, geocaching. So it's not like I didn't start the summer with a bang, you know? Just wanted to make sure there were some points in the "good mommy" column for readers of this thread.
DH got home as I was writing my last post, and I retreated upstairs the second he walked in the door. I worked while he made dinner (he sweetly brought a plate up to my desk -- he knew I was DONE!), and I could hear the kids downstairs still fighting over every little thing. They drove DH crazy within about 10 minutes! They aren't usually like this -- I don't know what the deal is. All the excitement of the end of the school year maybe?
So anyway, part of me wants to be stubborn and punitive and tell them that they didn't earn a fun activity for tomorrow, but most of me knows that's just a recipe for neverending failure and a terrible summer. What would you do? Maybe a good compromise would be to not do a really special thing like going to the beach, but at least have some structure (like the PP said, cleaning time, reading time, etc.), and be sure to get outside for bike rides and little stuff like that.
This is likely not the first end of school/start of summer period you've had, right? What's different?
With mine, first day off was always a casual, let's chill, do as you like day. If someone wanted to sit in front of the tv or computer all day? Go for it. It's not a usual thing, but it's a special day.
I know, total rookie question. I'm not sure what's different, they just had an off day. They're perfectly fine today so far.
My main question, which seems to keep being overlooked, is this: If your kids behaved horribly for a whole day, would you plan a fun outing for the following day, knowing that would get the summer back on track, or would you feel like that was rewarding bad behavior?
I've already come to the conclusion that we'll split the difference and get lots of outside time today (bike rides and the like), but no huge special excursion like the beach or Disneyland.
To your basic question, generally I start out each day as a fresh start so I wouldn't make it obvious that I was holding back a fun outing because of yesterday's disaster. But I wouldn't plan a huge day out adventure either -- mostly on the practical thought that if yesterday was bad there is a chance that today will be the same and who wants to spend mega-bucks for a day with crabby kids? I LOVE your idea of outdoor time -- that is often the best distraction/reset that I can come up with. At the end of the day, assuming it went well, I might have them reflect on why the days were different and what we could learn from that and how that should impact the rest of the summer. And if it were horrid two days in a row I would definitely sit down at the end of the day for a family meeting where I would set out some specific expectations. Same if I saw a pattern of bad days -- and in that case I might make it explicit that bad behavior one day would mean not doing a planned outing the next day. But I'd definitely give them one "pass" for the beginning.
One of my kids, even at 13, hates change and does really badly with the end of the school year into summer transition (and equally badly at the end of summer but I can't think about that yet). While this has always been the case, it has manifested itself differently over the years -- maybe that is what you are experiencing?
Since I'm a WOHM, I don't have summer days with the kids but for the years when I did I found that a loose routine helped immensely. Like Mumkinmum I had some targets for the day around cleaning up, quiet reading/summer homework time, pure veg time, outdoor play time and outings. I generally planned an outing every day, though many of those were just going to the park to play. About once a week I would do something that cost more than a couple of bucks -- a movie, an arcade/play zone/mini golf thing, a museum, the zoo... And once during the summer we would do a big day (amusement park) plus lDH always took them to the water park the day before school started. We are also blessed with the beach which I did at least once a week. We also incorporated swim lessons into the summer weeks about twice a week. Once they were past preschool age we also did at least 1 week of day camp so I wouldn't totally loose my mind.
Now that the kids are older and I'm not home, we have 1 week at the beginning of the summer and 1 at the end that is totally unscheduled for the kids. And this year they are home alone for the first time -- yikes! Anyway, during the down week they can do pretty much whatever they want as long as its cleaned up before I get home. Next week they start an 8 week round of summer day- and sleep-away camps. Less planning for me, but a whole lot more ouch for the wallet.
So yep, today is better. I guess all 3 of us were just off our game yesterday. NOW I feel like we're on a fun summer vacation!
That's my go-to solution usually -- a change of scenery often does the trick. But that day, they were outside all of 5 minutes before unholy screeches started emanating from my yard and I had to wrangle them back in. They were just having a crazy day!
for us it is either outside or bathtub.
when dd was younger and smaller we did breakfast and music in the bathtub. we'd be in there (yeah since she is an onlie, I'd have to join her too) for at least an hour and a half or so. dd loved it so much she still talks about it.
we have even done a picnic under the dining room table.
love that you had a great day :)