“What are we doing today, Mommy? What are we doing today? What are we doing today, Mommy? What? Mommy, what are we doing today?”
Annoyed yet? Me, too.
As soon as M1 could talk, he decided I was put on this earth to be his personal Julie McCoy. (For all you youngins, she was the cruise director from the television show “The Love Boat” back in the 70’s. She was in charge of making sure all the passengers had loads of activities to keep them entertained. She is so NOT me as a parent.) I detested this role and his appetite for activities was insatiable. (I know, I’ve read the books. It’s important for children to have free time to encourage imaginative play. I KNOW. He could do that just fine, but first he had to exhaust all possibilities of “what are we doing now?” This is the kid that had a map of our town in his head of all the locations where he could get treats -like the grocery store, haircut place, etc. and would ask to go to these places -daily. This is what I was dealing with.)
After his first year of pre-school, I glared down the looooong tunnel of summer and knew it was going to be…interesting. He was used to being at school every morning where there were “jobs” and lots of “work” for him to do. And school answered that dreaded question every day.
My husband was a school teacher at the time (now he is a Principal), so he was home for most of these summer days. We both dreaded the question. To keep our sanity I invented The Summer Cup. We wrote fun things to do on slips of paper, folded them up, and put them in a coffee cup. When faced with “What are we doing today, Mommy?” (almost every day) we pulled a paper from the Summer Cup.
Here’s the beauty of it: we made up rules. If we didn’t want to “go to the beach” that day, we would simply put the paper back in the cup for anther day. Also, we did only one thing from the cup each day. After that, M1 was on his own to come up with what he was going to do.
This solution worked like a charm and has now become a Calandro Clan tradition. During the first days of summer, we fill out the squares of paper with suggestions from everyone -all three Ms, the LOML and myself. Some items in the cup have become summer traditions: Downtown Day, hikes, beach trips, Park Day, Sidewalk Chalk Day, and something involving ice cream. This year our new activities will include Lego Day (thank you, M3 for the suggestion and invention) and a Lemonade Stand to raise money for a local charity (to be determined).
How do you occupy your active kids in the summer? Please share some of your ideas and feel free to use some of ours. Or go ahead and make your own Summer Cup and enjoy the summer together, Calandro Clan style. And when you do, rest assured we’re enjoying our own Summer Cup right along with you.