Thursday, May 12, 2011

Summertime & the Livin's...Stressful?

I don't know about you but when I was a kid, I looked forward to summer break all year long. Now that I'm the mommy to an elementary schooler, I dread summer break all year long. It's not that I don't enjoy spending time with my son, I do! But his boredom drives me absolutely bonkers. In past years, Styles has gone to spend a month or so with my mom, a week or two here and there with my dad and a week or two with his great-grandparents. This year, he's all mine and I'm already stressing out. As a stay-at-home mom, we have a routine. The little ones take naps. We run here and there doing this and that and being home with just the two little munchkins is difficult enough. Styles complains when we drive the 3.5 miles to the doctor's office. Driving into Savannah every few days is going to kill him.

In addition to the monkey-wrench in our routine, Styles has ADHD. I struggle with whether or not to give him his medication. Most weekends he doesn't take it and during the summer, I prefer that he not take it then either. (I promise to post a series on Styles' ADHD and why we chose to put him on medication at a later date.) He doesn't eat much when he takes it and he doesn't weigh enough to be on a medication-induced-diet so to speak. Along with the ADHD comes incessant talking. Styles just talks and talks and talks and talks. As Austin Powers would say, "Due to the unfreezing pro-cess, I have no inner monologue!" And it is oh-so-true about Styles. It drives me bonkers.

Add to that the fact that we live in the seriously humid south, and you have a recipe for disaster. So this year, I have started looking into programs or activities that will keep Styles' mind and body busy and give us a break from one another. I don't want this to be like last summer where he spent his days in front of the TV and playing video games. We're not that kind of family so to allow him to do that during the summer is not only bad parenting on my part, but it is unhealthy for him.

Here are a few things that I have come up with to make this summer less stressful, more healthful, and full of fun memories (I hope).

Sports Camps: Our city offers relatively inexpensive sports camps that run for 5 days, 3 to 4 hours/day. We are looking into basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. Basketball camp is $75 and runs for 3 hours for a week. Most cities or counties offer programs like this and many provide scholarship programs if you are in a financial bind. The YMCA is another great resource for summer programs and I know for a fact that they offer scholarships - I've had to use them before!

Pool/Water Time:
I bought a blow-up pool with built-in water guns last year for $7 when all of the summer stuff went on sale. I plan on leaving it as a permanent fixture in my back yard. Our community has a pool but it is difficult for me to take all 3 kids at the same time. Madilyn loves to kamikaze into the pool while I'm trying to nurse Grady on the side. I'm not a fan of water wings so I'm still looking for a way to (safely) be able to take all 3
of them. PLEASE do not forget to lather your children with sunscreen this summer. Factor 50 is going to be your best bet. Remember to put it on your children before you put their swimsuits on, and allow about 30 minutes for it to dry before getting into the water. I usually put it on my kids and give them ice pops to suck on to pass the time. My youngest is only 2 months old and he will have to spend the entire summer sans SPF-anything. For him, we have purchased some SPF 50+ clothing. We have shorts, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat by the company iPlay. Target also has some Circo brand sunguard suits as well. The best time to go out is in the morning before noon, and after 3pm.

Another option is water guns. Styles got one for Easter and plans on using it every day with his little friends across the street. I want him to spend time outside but with a heat index of well over 100, I don't want him to overheat.

Icy Foods: We bought an inexpensive sno-cone maker a few summers ago. You can use fruit juice to sweeten the ice shavings, or syrup that you can buy at many grocery stores. We even have fun cups and swirly straws to drink them out of.

Here is a recipe that is healthy, but not so healthy that your kids won't eat it, and easy enough that your kids can help you in the kitchen. It is one of my favorite recipes for ice pops:

Watermelon Pops

*4 cups seedless watermelon chunks, the smaller the better
*light corn syrup, granulated sugar, OR sugar substitute (agave nectar, honey, Truvia, etc...)
*1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
*1 pt. vanilla ice cream, white as you can get, and softened
*3 cups honeydew melon
1. Spread watermelon chunks
in an even layer on a baking sheet. Freeze about 1 hour or until semi-frozen. Transfer to a blender and add either 2 Tbls cornsyrup or 2 Tbls sugar, or both, to taste (I didn't add very much because my melon was wonderful tasting and sweet). Puree until a thick slush forms. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Fill molds or cups halfway with slush. Insert a stick into the center of each, letting sticks extend 2 in. above top edge of molds. The slush will support the sticks without sinking, so you won't need the tops of molds.) Freeze molds 1 hour or until solid.
3. Carefully spoon ice cream (about 2 Tbls in each mold over watermelon layer, to simulate the rind. Freeze 1 hour or until hard.
4. Meanwhile, spread the honeydew chunks in a even layer on a baking sheet. Freeze about 1 hour or until semi-frozen. Transfer to a blender and add corn syrup or sugar, and puree until a thick slush forms. Fill molds to top with honeydew slush and Freeze 4 hours or until hard.
5. To serve: Let pops stand at room temperature for 3 minutes to soften slightly. Remove from molds. If pops don't release easily, dip molds briefly in warm, not hot, water.

Fruit Pickin':
When I was a young lass who spent summers in Florida, we went strawberry and blueberry picking. I had a love-hate relationship with it. I hated being hot and sweaty but I loved picking my own fruit and eating it as I went along. There was something sweet about eating the fruits of our labor once we got home (pun intended). This is an activity that is best suited for early in the morning before it gets hot and humid.

Museum Tours:
My 9 year old son loves museums. We rarely stay in one place for very long but he does enjoy looking at the artwork and learning about history. We generally go home and play with play-doh or paint when we get home.

Movie Day: Many theaters offer $1 movies one day per week during the summer. Check this link to see if your local Regal Cinema offers this summertime service.

Library Time: Most libraries have story time for younger tots. I plan on doing this two times per week this summer. We generally go on Tuesdays but will add Wednesdays during the summer. This will give Styles an opportunity to find books that he wants to read, and read them in peace while Madilyn and Grady get some time to learn to appreciate books the way that their older brother does.

Young Entrepreneurs: Styles begged and begged and begged and begged me to set up a lemonade stand last summer. I was very ill during my first trimester with Grady and did not have the energy to do so. This year I am going to let him go ahead and do it. Lemonade is relatively easy to make, and I plan on letting him have a pitcher of Crystal Light lemonade for a "light" option for those of us on a diet. He can brave the heat in our driveway while I watch him from our living room window.

GAMES GAMES GAMES!: Board games, putt-putt golf, bowling. Whatever you can dream up. I remember doing sack races with my friends and then eating cool watermelon afterwards. Our local bowling alley offers $1 games and $1 shoe rentals on Mondays. It is smoke-free and AIR CONDITIONED! It will be a perfect place for me to wear the baby while playing with the older two children. And luckily for us, it's not far so I don't have to worry about my gas-guzzling mini van. Hey - it is Flex Fuel and I have 3 kids, lay off!

What do you plan on doing with your kids this summer? I need more ideas!


TenderHeartMom said... [Reply to comment]

Lots of pool time, I lived in our pool as a kid. Also trips to the shore and local lakes.

SummerLen said... [Reply to comment]

@TenderHeartMom I grew up in Alaska but spent summers in Florida with my dad. He had a pool so we spent lots of time there too! We also went to my uncle's lake where we went inner-tubing and water skiing. I LOVED IT!

Mandi Spencer said... [Reply to comment]

Your melon pops look super yummy! I am impressed that you actually used melon, too. All previous versions I have seen are made from raspberry sherbet. Definitely going to try these.

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