Summer-ing Simply

This is always my favorite time of year!

For like, 5 minutes.

Then I realize I am the actual parent of real life little people and the seriousness of keeping them alive outdoors begins to sink in.Current fears: tics (lyme's disease) mosquitoes (ZIKA!), traffic (the youths are reckless in our neighborhood), wildlife (mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, oh my!), sunscreen (found out last week Mack breaks out in hives from paba), allergies (we got tested a few weeks ago and are of course allergic to ALL the things), and don't even mention my anxiety about bringing these people to the pool---

BUT, I still really love summer, And I have learned a few things in my short, poorly managed parenting years thus far. Most of them center around avoiding the stomach flu and mastering the art of clean-walking (where everytime you walk through a room you pick up a hundred things off the floor as you go)-- But other lessons have come from over and under scheduled summers, so I can't wait to see which category this one falls into...

1. Make Home your Hot Spot
At the top of my list of "summering simply" is to leave the house as little as possible. I love to get out but not as much as I hate buckling tiny sweaty people into carseats and hearing their pleas to "blast the cold air, mama" before I can even shut the van door.

I know our years ahead may be filled with baseball games, swim team, block parties, camping trips but I am owning the fact that while I have infants and toddlers, I am forgoing a lot of social things to stick to nap schedules-- and also, because I am a little selfish and want to make sure I'm home to put everyone in bed at 6:30 pm so I can watch trashy reality shows at night.

We got a blow-up pool, a water table, the freezer is full of homemade popsicles (canned pineapple tidbits and orange juice), and at any given moment my front yard is littered with scooters and bikes.

These are the days...

2. Letting my Chores Sliiiiiiiide
I used to be the first one to have laundry pile up or walk away from a sink full of dirty dishes, but some awful shift has taken place in my heart and I REALLY dislike my house being a disaster. It's because the people are so chaotic I cannot emotionally and physically handle the STUFF being chaotic too. I have to get rid of one or the other and because of personal convictions about the sanctity of life, I choose to keep the clutter to a minimum.

It makes me sad because I sacrifice the peace of our home to snip at everyone to help me clean throughout the day. Yes, there is totally a balance and my kids have their own responsibilities but since having Charlie, I feel like all I do in between nursing sessions is manage the house. Last week I told Mike I couldn't even remember the last time I sat and played on the floor with the big kids or held Archie in my lap to read him a book.

I am going to start cleaning up only at the end of the day (thanks Joanna Gaines, love this book) and we will do more deep cleaning JUST on Friday mornings (this was always my old schedule because Mike worked out of town and we'd clean the house REAL quick before he came home for the weekends!) These months seem to fly by and I want to enjoy my people in this phase of life!

3. Sticking to a One Camp Limit
I can't wait to put my kids in ALL the camps someday (my mom holds the record of having me in SEVEN one summer and was known to sign us up for Bible Camp at various churches we didn't even attend) but for this summer, we are just doing one local VBS. I felt SO tempted by the flashy flyer from a big church in Omaha that offered cooking camp for Emmy, the brochure from the children's museum offering a Superhero camp for Mack, and even a toddlers and tots camp at the local Y. But when I realllllly think about it, we all feel a little stressed to be rushed out of the house in the morning and it is nice to have a break before we start the rigidity of getting to school on time in the fall.

4. No Company Allowed
I looooove hosting friends and family most of the year, but I like to have the house just with the kids and I for the slower summer months. Thankfully with nobody in school, we have the excuse to go visit lots of people we love and have a few trips on the calendar.

BUT IF YOU WANT TO COME VISIT ME, I will make an exception for you!

5. Having a Loose Schedule
Lately I have been trying to pay attention to how my kids operate (when they get hungry, what time they need rest, and how they recharge: one likes to be alone and another with people) and have formed a loose summer schedule. Here it is for other mama's who might be curious!

5:30 am- wake and walk (my neighbor has been walking the hills with me in the mornings and it is the bessssst. Mike is already gone for work then, bless his heart, so her husband comes over and stays with my kids, CAN YOU EVEN???)
6:30 am- Time with God, I am rereading my favorite book of all time, Mere Christianity, and doing a devotional
7 am- Fold laundry and watch Today Show
7:30/8 Big kids wake up, put on a disk on cd, read books, color while I make breakfast
9 am- Archie takes nap, big kids go outside
11 am- everyone outside OR this is when we run errands
2 pm- everyone nap (big kids watch movie) I blog, prep dinner, spend more time with the Laundry Monster
4pm- worst. time. of. day-- chug coffee, crafts/playdough, back outside, have big kids play in their rooms if people are getting freaky on me, go for a walk, visit our neighbors (who doesn't love a surprise drop-in from the lady with 4 kids while they're probably starting to make dinner?!), clean crafts/playdough out of the carpet, drink more coffee
5:30- pour out coffee, switch to wine, eat dinner
6:30- start getting ready for bed
7:30- kids to sleep

I can anticipate 100 ways this won't work, but it is already our natural rhythm most days so we'll see how we do with cutting out our morning tv shows. Thankfully my kids L-O-V-E to be outside so that will be wonderful for 2 weeks before it gets too hot and buggy :)

6. Asking for Help
It is hard to be home with your kids all day without separating for a bit while they go to school. Sometimes I think to myself, "Why did I have all these babies if I just spend part of the day hoping everybody leaves me alone!" Many friends are in a similar position as me, living far from family with spouses who work a lot so we have to get creative with recharging our personal batteries.

This summer I am having a sitter come twice a week, once so I can run a few errands alone and again so I can take the big kids to the pool without the babies!

7. Repeating a Mama-Mantra!
Throughout the day, there are several things I say aloud to myself over and over again. This is a side-affect from living in the woods alone. It is also the only way I can keep my thoughts straight most of the time while people are asking for snacks/begging for snacks/screaming for snacks/crying for snacks-- one is "Do not feel guilty, Do not feel guilty, Do not feel guilty" another is "Find Archer, Find Archer, Find Archer" (lest I get distracted and forget he's missing and find him minutes later surrounded by 1,000 q-tips) but my favorite is: "Your only job is to Love God, and Love these Kids"

I constantly need to let myself off the hook. Summertime is not my kids only chance EVER to have fun. It's okay if this one I need a pass because we have a newborn and they miss out on all the activities I see other mamas post on social media. The best part is, they have nothing to compare their lives to and are clueless about all the fun the other kids may be having!

For instance today, I let them eat lunch (frozen pizza) on the screened in porch without plates. I just left the pizza on the cardboard tray-- to which Mack yelled, "this is the Best! Day! Ever!" Then when Emmy asked me for Sprite and I said yes, she told me I was "fantastic" so these people have some seriously low expectations.

7. Fighting the PostPartum Blues  
Thanks everyone who sent me messages after I shared a little on Instagram a few weeks ago about my struggle post Archer's birth and during my pregnancy with Charlie. I definitely didn't share it to get attention, and that's why I waited so long to say anything. I tend to be private about my own health and personal struggles but have heard too many moms say they feel isolated, depressed, anxious, and/or ashamed of their experience with the PostPartum blues. I have written literally 10 blog posts about this in the past year and maybe soon I will have the courage to publish one and share!

Thankfully a few of the things I have tried over the last year are really bringing me joy and relief. A few of those are: talking about it more often with my husband/a few close friends, taking Vitamin D (I swear by it!), doing things that are refreshing to my soul, seeing a Christian Counselor when I need to, and starting an exercise regimen.

Lots more to say but not enough time. It's almost the 4 o'clock hour in Summertime Land and that usually equals Major Suckfest at my house so I'm going to brew a third pot of coffee.


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