Back in the day, I used to be an awesome camp counsellor. I had boundless energy and a cabin full of 8- and 9-year-olds didn't scare me. I dreamed up awesome games to keep them entertained, brushed their knotted hair after swim, held their hands if they were unsure about a new activity, and rubbed their backs and told them bedtime stories. I took on the role of 'mommy for the summer' and I loved it. Back then I was just 18.
*Camp B'nai Brith of Ottawa, summer 1999
Now that I'm 33 and the job of mommy extends beyond just the summer months, I'm channeling my inner counsellor and gearing up for a month of 'mommy camp'! I've got one energetic 4.5-year-old coming off a month of day camp (where she swam twice a day, did pottery, arts & crafts, sports, dance, the list goes on), and a 16-month-old who has just learned to walk (and run!) and has no interest in sitting still, like ever.
While the thought of 5 weeks with my kids should make me feel really grateful and excited (which it does!), it also terrifies me, just a little bit. Perhaps it's the fact that I'm trying to work at the same time, or the fact that I'm not 16 anymore, but finding the energy to keep up with these two is going to be a bit of a challenge, I fear.
To help me survive (and thrive!) this is what I'm thinking:
1. Take LOTS of day trips.
First stop...anywhere that's not our house. We're going to play tourist in our own city with visits to the zoo, the ROM, and Centre Island. We'll check out some parks we don't usually go to, find the coolest splash pads in town, and maybe even head downtown on the subway for a little adventure. We've also got some great weekend getaways planned with daddy (stay tuned for those posts), which are sure to break things up a bit and allow us to enjoy life outside of the city, too! What's your favourite thing to do in your city? Please share so I can add to my list of ideas!
2. Get organized.
What I've learned by watching my preschooler over the past four weeks, is that she does really well with routine (as do most kids her age). I tend to suck at routine—planning things last-minute and expecting her to join in happily. This summer, I'm going to try really hard to get organized and plan days in advance so she knows what to expect. I've already printed out a calendar and started filling in the days. A little bit of routine, or at least knowing what to expect, will be good for all of us.
3. Ditch the iPhone.
Saying this is easy, doing it is another story. I might seriously start shaking just thinking about it. But the truth is, if I'm going to be really present with my kids this month, I've got to turn off technology. As soon as my mind goes elsewhere, my kids sense it and start looking for attention (usually in negative ways). I think we'll all be happier, and less frustrated, if I keep my focus and attention on them. I'll turn to social media and email at the end of the day and schedule in times to work when they're not relying on me for entertainment. When all is said and done, I think taking a bit of a breather from technology will do me a world of good. (Let's hope I can stick to this one!)
4. Call in backup.
Thankfully, my mom is my most awesome support when it comes to hanging with my kids, and she seems to have as much energy, if not more, than I do. She's volunteered to join us on many of our day trips this month (yay!) and I also plan to use this time to see friends and relatives who are off during the summer. The more people we can hang out with, the better! It means I get other adults to talk with (which is hugely important for my sanity) and the kids get other kids to play with. Plus, I'm sure we'll make some new friends along the way, too.
5. Embrace nothingness.
All this planning is fine, but what's summer without a few days of lazing around, playing in the grass, feeling the sand between your toes, and doing not much of anything? I'm a doer. A go, go, go kind of mom, who is always eager to fill every moment with an activity. But, I think I owe it to myself and my kids to practice just being in the moment this summer—staring up at the blue sky, listening to the birds, smelling the flowers, and just chilling out. After all, before we know it will be September and we'll all be rushing about.
If you've run your own 'mommy camp' please share tips for success! All suggestions welcome.
Check out these 10 Teacher-Approved Summer Activities.
Sending your kids to camp? Find out How To Choose The Right Camp For Your Child.