In the first few weeks of summer, I quickly realized that this summer would be… different. For one thing, Bean and Gracie are starting to separate themselves from each other in some ways. Not that they don’t still play together all the time or not get along anymore; they are still best buddies and, thankfully, get along really well. But their ages and genders have just now started to separate them a little bit. For example, I signed them both up for gymnastics camp for a week because they have always done camps and summer activities together. But Bean was just not into it. He was the only boy and seemed to kind of be embarrassed that he was there with his little sister. That had definitely never happened before! By Wednesday, I finally agreed to put the cost of the camp aside (there goes that money…) and just kept him home with me for the last few days of that week.
But even when the kids were playing together and it wasn’t about differences, there were things that were different this summer. The activities that we regularly do during the summer were no longer interesting to them. It really struck me when I took them to the splash pad that we have been going to every summer since they were babies and after about 10 minutes of playing, they came wandering back to me and Gracie said, “We’re bored here.”
It became quickly apparent that I was going to need a new bag of tricks to keep us entertained this summer. So, I did what I always do when I enter a new phase in parenting and I called my mom. In all honesty, it’s really my mom who should have a blog. All my good ideas come from her! And she had plenty of good advice about what to do with this latest little challenge.
“At this age, it becomes more about activities and less about the going.”
And that is so true. In the past summers, we have been on the go almost every day. Whether we were at the beach, at a resort pool (that we snuck into illegally…), exploring playgrounds and parks, visiting Downtown Disney… whatever we were doing, we were on the go. But this summer, the kids don’t seem to be as entertained with all that. They want to be at home more, but they are bored when they are here because I won’t let them play video games and watch TV all day (mean mommy…). My mom said the key to kids this age is activities and friendships.
We have started having more of their friends over to play and they have been going over to other kids houses to play, too. And it is awesome! It’s not like when they were smaller and it felt more like babysitting when we had extra kids around. Now, they are completely independent and when they have friends over, I hardly see them, unless I go poking around to see what they are doing. They spend most of their time out in the pool and the rest of their time playing in their bedrooms.
Bean and his buddies like playing Legos, Pokemon, and drawing their own comic books. They also like making tents (NOT forts, as I have been corrected many times, because forts are for little kids…) and building with our marble run game. Gracie and her girlfriends play school, house, and with her dolls, mostly. They also do a lot of arts and crafts on their own in her room and make big presentations out of gifting them to family members.
My rule for sanity is that only one of them can have a friend over at a time. We’ve done a few times when each of them have friends over, but it always becomes a boys vs. girls battle and someone ends up crying. We also keep it at only one or two friends at a time. I prefer them to just have one friend over most of the time because with a third, someone usually feels left out.
We have also been spending more time on structures activities together. Gracie and I painted rocks the other day and gave them to my mom to put in her garden and we used her Easy Bake Over to make Girl Scout cookies last week. (Shout out to those blog readers who suggested I look online for more tasty Easy Bake recipes! Pinterest has a ton!) This week, Bean and I decorated the outside of our house for the 4th of July together and we made Nerf gun targets out of whiffle balls leftover from baseball. Next week, we are making tie-dye tee shirts.
I’ve been finding all kinds of activities and crafts on Pinterest lately that I’m saving for later, like making these egg carton animals, making sailboats out of popsicle sticks, making marbled paperweights, making slime, and paper plate sundials.
It’s definitely a different kind of summer. Once again I find myself marveling at my kids as they grow up. I love watching them enter new phases and stages, and, while it panics me at first, I like having to stretch my own parenting wings to explore new activities with them. I always tell new moms that every parent is a new parent every single day because every day brings new growth and challenges and adventures with them. I think part of being a good parent is making sure that we continue learning and growing with our children. And that’s lucky for us because every stage seems to bring new gifts!