My summer plans for sanity: schedules, plans, charts, and other coping mechanisms

summer-2011-calendar-jpegs-001

I am one of those moms that makes a crazy weekly schedule for summer. I thought I’d share it in case it’s helpful for anyone else or gives you ideas of how to tweak things your own way. Do NOT look at this and feel guilty if you never had any similar intention. *I* do this because it helps me know what to do with my children when they are out of school and suddenly back in my care 24/7. If I did not make a plan or a schedule, I would find myself fretting in bed in the morning while my children got a jump start on chaos. If you are the type of mom who likes to go with the flow and not be pressured by a schedule, then you probably won’t like these ideas, and that’s okay. We can still be friends. 🙂

Weekly schedule.  Here’s a link to my chart, but this is the general idea: chores* done by 10 am, then a brief devotional and “summer school” (30 minutes of workbooks, writing, etc.). Mid-day activities include:

Monday:  Money and Menu plan– Allowance and Bank, Plan lunches and dinners for week (this year I’m going to try having each child in charge of one day of lunch and dinner), Grocery shop

Tuesday: Temple, Treat, and Tech– Get a treat and visit a temple, Rent a movie or video game

Wednesday: Service and Play–Humanitarian or other Service, Fun ideas from Pinterest

Thursday: Travel– Day trip or hike

Friday: Library and lunch– go to library and meet daddy for lunch

(This schedule is way more flexible than it may appear. Times are approximate, and we also have swimming lessons and other random calendar commitments, so some days the schedule will get trumped with something else.)

Then we finish off the late afternoons with a “summer snack” (usually a Popsicle), 30 minutes of reading time** followed by some quiet play time, their 30 minutes of media time, then dinner and family time, and finally bedtime– except for Thursday nights when I’ll let them stay up a little later for neighborhood night games.

*Note on chores: I make a daily chart (you’re welcome to download and edit my document here) so that every morning, each person knows exactly what their jobs are that day. Each day as they pass off their work, I will give them some kind of voucher that they can collect and cash in toward their allowance on Mondays. It may be as simple as a labeled popsicle stick. If you have any questions about the chores we do around here, go ahead and ask in the comments.

**Note on reading: You know how a lot of schools have a take-home reading program? Well, I modify that plan and run a similar system at home during the summer. My children like to read and will often pick up books during down-time and definitely at bedtime, but what I love about take-home reading is the assigned content. Sometimes I’m a big fan of forcing things on my poor children, especially when I know it would be good for them to step out of their comfort zone a little and expand their minds by trying a new genre or subject matter. So I did a lot of research about good books for my kids to read, and I went and checked out a lot of them from the library. Then I created big gallon Ziploc bags with their names on them and made a form (here’s a blank one you can download) that lists their “assigned” books. During their reading time every day, they read the book in their bag for as many days as they need to until it’s done. Then I sign it off, and they move on to another book on their list. I love this part of the day because it makes me feel like a children’s librarian, one of those jobs I’m just sure I would love.

2013-05-24_23-31-05_825

So there you have it. It’s kind of like comfort food for the psyche; it makes me feel better to have a summer strategy. Here’s wishing you the best in your own summer preparations. What are some of your favorite strategies?

Winner and a question

Quick post.

Congratulations to Holly, who was the winner of the pre-screening tickets to see Ephraim’s Rescue. Yay, Holly!

And I have a question. Actually two. I’m working on a class for youth about recognizing the Spirit.

1. I’m compiling a list of the many ways that the Spirit speaks to us. For me it’s most often through a feeling of reassurance/certainty about something I’m learning and also promptings (which I like to refer to as an idea with teeth that kind of presses on your mind). Can you help me round out the list by adding some of the ways that you have received revelation in your life? I want to show that there are many, many ways that our Heavenly Father communicates with us, and it’s not the same for all people or even for the same person all the time.

2. How have you taught your children or youth to recognize the Spirit? I need a variety of ideas/thoughts/resources since there is such a variety in the ways God speaks to us through the Holy Ghost.

Books and Movies and prizes, oh my!

Let’s start with books.

I love doctrine. Here are two recent reads I got from Deseret Book, both written by current apostles:

21principles_detail 21 Principles: Divine Truths to Help you Live by the Spirit” by Elder Richard G. Scott. Elder Scott offers 21 principles distilled from his life experiences. These “concentrated truths” will help you understand more fully how to be guided by the Spirit. Elder Scott’s brief explanations open the way for your own discovery and exploration.  I really like this book. There are so many poignant quotes and thoughts and it’s a great, concentrated resource about what is and how to live a spirit-driven life.

OneDropTime5104405_detail“One Drop at a Time: A Message for Women” by Elder M. Russell Ballard.  Do you sometimes wonder if your little efforts could possibly make any difference at all? Consider a simple example from nature.

I would say this book is mostly a “gift book” because it’s short, decorative, and as far as I can tell, basically a lovely reprint of his recent talk “Be Anxiously Engaged.”

Other books: These are kind of random shares I wanted to pass along. When I was doing my own book signing for Covenant Motherhood at the BYU Bookstore during Women’s Conference, I got to share a table with Elyse of SixSistersStuff.com, who was selling their new cookbook. She was really nice and it was fun to get to know her a little, but I didn’t pick up the book because it was a cookbook and they scare me. SixSistersStuffNEW5097495_detail

Well just a week or two later, I won a copy of their cookbook as a door prize at an event I went to, and I have to confess, I’m pleasantly surprised. The recipes look like great family meals and the ingredient lists and instructions seem really simple. So I’ve decided I’m going to incorporate it into our summer plans by working with one child a night to make dinner. I think the recipes will be simple enough that they can join in and feel like they’re really being chefs.

Because my calendar has been so busy over the last month or so, I’ve done quite a bit of reading for pleasure just as an escape. I love Jane Austen. That’s no shock to anyone who’s read my blog before. I’ve read some Austenesque knock-offs before, and I’ve enjoyed some of them. (Most just can’t measure up to the originals in that genre.) I had heard good things about Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, so I picked it up and read it recently. In a day. I loved it. It’s probably the best modern-written, Regency-set one I’ve read. So if you’re like me and you’ve heard of it, but haven’t picked it up, you should. Oh, and it just won the best Romance novel of the year at the Whitney Awards last week.  (My friend, Melanie Jacobson, had two books that were finalists in that category because she’s crazy talented. If you like more contemporary, sassy romances, you need to check her stuff out, too.)

Edenbrooke_detailoriginal_cover_detailSecondChances_detail

Okay, moving on to movies.

Do you like movies that make you weep and thank your lucky stars that you were not a pioneer? Well, I was recently invited to meet the director and lead actor for the new film, Ephraim’s Rescue. Ephraim's-Rescue-Poster-1200pixels

I’m ashamed to say that I was almost wholly unfamiliar with the incredible story of Ephraim Hanks. I think this movie is going to be super powerful, so you know, bring your tissues. It opens in several Utah theaters on May 31.

And finally, prizes. At that movie preview/launch event, Deseret Book offered to let me give away to my own little blog-reading friends two tickets to see a pre-screening of Ephraim’s Rescue. How cool is that? There will be special screenings in St. George (5/25), Ogden (5/28), Logan (5/29), and Orem (5/29). If you’d like to win tickets to that very cool, exclusive event, leave a comment below. Update: I’ll do a drawing for this winner first thing this Saturday morning.  Make sure you leave a valid email address when you sign-in so that I can contact you right away and get you in touch with your tickets on time.

For the win: In the comments, tell me your favorite movie that makes you cry every time. (Please just don’t say “The Notebook.” I’ve never seen it, but people are always saying how it makes them cry, and for some reason, I have an aversion to sobbing while cheesy people are kissing in the rain.)  Ready? Go!

Happy Mother’s Day

ah110g6f1[image credit: Annie Henrie, “Angels Round About Thee”]

“Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones. …

“Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.”  –Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Because She Is a Mother”

Worth Celebrating

I already know I’m repeating myself a lot this week, but it’s a message worth repeating. A few days ago, I made this little graphic to try to get moms to look at Mother’s Day a little differently.

Mother's Day

Then today, I have a piece up over at LDS Living that highlights some of the reasons why moms should give themselves permission to be celebrated.  It’s called “Hey, Moms: George Washington Wasn’t Perfect Either.” Go check it out and then pat yourself on the back for a minute.

LDS Living is also offering a free e-book for moms that you can download right here.

Cover

So do me (and yourself) a favor, and tell me in the comments one thing you do well as a mom, or one good thing you think your children will remember about you. (If it’s really that hard, just ask them. You might be surprised.) I’ll celebrate that with you this Mother’s Day.