I remember summer.
My sister, Laura, and I would wake up to the sun shining on the wood floor of the bedroom. We spent the mornings playing in our backyard or riding bikes up and down the block with the neighbor kids.
Our mom took us to the library once a week where we checked out tall stacks of books we plowed through with diligence and delight. Many afternoons were spent swimming at Chism Beach while our mom studied for graduate classes under a shady tree.
When I became a mother, I wanted summer days to be relaxed and fun.
With a larger family, there was more work to be done; my children had significant chores, and yard work to do, but there was still plenty of time for play. Stacks of books to read, afternoons at the local pool, and sleeping out in the yard were foundations to our days.
After we adopted our kids, summer changed.
By May, my desk would be stacked with lists of activities, charts for chores, camp registration forms, and appointment reminders. One summer, as I worked on plans for the kids, I recognized how differently I approached it as the mother of children from “hard places.”
When we adopted our children, I thought they would fold themselves into the life we were living, but their needs required us to dramatically change the way we live, which included how we planned our summers.
Summer days no longer flowed with ease, they required structure and extensive planning.
A chart hung on the refrigerator reminding even my older children to brush their teeth, make their beds, do chores, and so on. Basic hygiene was an ongoing challenge for one of my kids and it wasn’t enough to say, “Go brush your teeth,” it needed to be checked off on a list.
Our mornings were geared toward preparing to spend the afternoon at the pool. When all chores and basic tasks were done, thirty minutes of reading was required, dinner prepped, and lunch prepared. We headed out the door to the pool in the early afternoon where the kids spend the afternoon swimming with friends.
For my son with sensory processing disorder, the pool was magical. The stimulation of the water, plus movement and activity, were (and continue to be) therapeutic for him. It was also perfect for my daughter who found unstructured time at home to be very challenging.
Camp was also a new development for our family. Before adopting, given the choice between spending money to send the kids to camp or take a family vacation, we opted to stick together. Carefully planned road trips, with hours spent listening to Adventures in Odyssey as the miles ticked past, were highlights of our summers.
We cautiously embraced camp for Kalkidan who already needed regular respite. Camp provided her with a break from family life, which she found so challenging, and gave the other children a break from the intensity of her needs. She was very happy in a camp setting with high structure and loads of activities.
The other children breathed more easily and enjoyed more time and attention from Russ and me.
I miss the lazier days of summer when some of the kids would play outside while others tucked away with books, when friends came over and ran in the sprinkler and popsicles were handed out in the late afternoon.
That is not my life anymore and if I fool myself into thinking I can slip back into that mode of parenting, it will not go well.
I’ve got tools and resources to help me be the mom I need to be for my children. If we are going to be successful, I have to work hard, very hard, to plan a summer that brings happiness to all of my children.
It will not look like the summers we used to have, and I honestly still grieve that, but it can still be a great summer with many fun days and lots of great memories made.
Would you like ideas for a successful summer? My free ebook, 5 Tips to Save Your Summer, is over on The Adoption Connection and might be just what you need.
We can do this, friends. Summer is here and while it is tempting to try to roll with it, I’m digging in and making plans for my guys.
Tell me, how have your summers changed? What works for your family?
with hope and courage,