SUMMER SANITY: Feeding The Crew

Are you like me and have a darling little hurricane of a child who never, ever stops going, doing, creating, scheming? Does he/she have an overwhelming amount of ideas every day, and any time you get in the way of he/her accomplishing them it becomes a major "deal"? If there are other children in your family, does this one little soul take up more energy than all the others combined?  Does he/she constantly rally the others to go along with her ideas, live by her creeds and sparking when they don't?  If he/she is your only one, do you suspect the mama's who have a few mild mannered children have the equivalent of your singleton? 

I have one of these amazing little humans who either will grow up to be a world-changer or be incarcerated. We are hopeful we live to see her be the former.  In the meantime, the sheer level of energy she infuses to the other already strong-willed/energetic children in our tribe has me grappling with how to lovingly channel all (most) of it, all day, every day during the summer months. This doesn't mean I am dreading summer, or ungrateful for "down time" with my children, but it does mean that I kinda mourn the end of school that keeps my one-who-affects-the-others-with-her-vast-energy happily occupied and know from other years that I need a whole lot more ingenuity and energy to outwit/meet the needs of my sweet little hurricane from allll that she will set out to do on her own and with her built-in side-kicks who move and breath beside her. She is amazing, completely worth all the tiredness. They all are.

May I just say, if you do not have a child like this, I do not doubt you still have these small challenges (likely you have far more than I could ever know!). But i would ask you to not assume I'm simply being overdramatic and lazy...and I'll do my best to not assume you are living large on Easy Street, watching your children quietly read volumes of Old Mother Goose tales under big old oak trees for hours on end as the summer sun dapples between the branches on their rosy cheeks. Okay? Great! 

This is one reason why summer feels so daunting to me. While I am absolutely thrilled I do not have wallflowers for children, as each year passes, I feel the growing disparity in the importance of raising them rightly and the needed energy/insight to do so. Most days, still, I am simply surviving...and quiet honestly, I thought I would have already arrived at achieving a "thriving" status. 

I've been spending the last few days considering ways we can keep summer SIMPLE to increase the chances of this mama can stay SANE. This is why we visited a local pool this afternoon to make a first-time inquiry about membership ("chores in the morning, pool in the afternoon, sun-sapped children by night" is my thinking). And also on my mind? FEEDING THE CREW. 

Sustenance is kind of a big deal, and no matter how many times I've tried meal planning (even subscribing to an app that does EVERYTHING short of grocery shopping and food prep for you,, it has never taken. Details and I have tried to make it work, but we've come to accept we're always going to be "just friends"...and not very close ones at that.  I tapped the brilliant brain of a close friend of mine who is FAR better at organizing her life than I, yet we are close enough in personality, I knew she would give me a "doable" idea. She did not disappoint. 

Thus, this "meal plan" is posted on our refrigerator for all to see (no more answering "what's for dinner?"): 

My plan is to grill whatever we can get our hands on for the weekend, but for the five busiest (longest) days of the week we can fall back on our family favorites and my grocery shopping is simplified. This streamlining may only work for a few weeks, but at least it's a few weeks where I know what is on my grocery list and my children know what they can expect for dinner. I have no expectation for this to last for the next ten years, or even ten months. Seeing as though I'm usually scouring my freezer for a piece of frozen meet thirty minutes from our standard dinner time, this is a big move in the right direction. For however long it works, I feel some what though I had found a suitable pair of Spanx to get me through a fitted dress for a class reunion that will last into the night.

I am serious when I ask ...if you have a "high energy" brood with whom you love with all of you heart, but who leave your body utterly exhausted by the end of most days, PLEASE do not feel shy in sharing any summer survival tips with me. I will be happy to share them on here so we can all benefit!

We mama's are all imperfect captains of our own little ships, each with a crew whose number and nature are different from any others. We simply do the best we can...and if our little deck mates know they are loved immensely, then all the activities (or lack thereof) on-board are only bonus features on the voyage towards adulthood. We can wave to each other from the stern and cheer each other on as we pass or journey beside each other.

          I'm just going to go ahead and keep sharing ideas--the ones the work and a few of the crash-and-burn's--because we need to know we aren't in this alone and are looking for ways to stay out of little white jackets. 


PS. As I was writing this, my husband brought out the old Wal-Mart toddler pool from the barn attic. We might just make it through Memorial Day on this alone. Thank God for small blessings. 


Sarah Gingrich said…
Yes! Me and menu-planning give each other a wide berth. Our extended family is going away this weekend and we were each to sign up for two meals and ACTUALLY PUT DOWN WHAT WE WERE MAKING. *breaths into a paper bag I wrote "bacon-wrapped monkey brains". I felt much better. My budget breathes easier if I don't plan (much to the shock of those hyper-planner-budgeters) because I respond to whatever sales are on at the store that week. Buy one get one free organic chicken? Guess what? We're eating chicken forever!
Sonja said…
Doing this is a life saver for me, a homeschool mom, during the school year we do: meatless Mondays, taco Tuesday, soup/sandwich Wednesday, stir fry Thursday and homemade pizza Fridays. We've been doing it for several years and I love it. I hope your new plan works well for you.
One summer trick I've heard people use is to do a similar thing for activities for the summer: craft project Monday, library Tuesday, water play Wednesday, errands Thursday, find the house and watch a movie Friday or something like that. Have a fun summer and try to stay sane :)
Debbie said…
You sound just like me! I have tried various ways to simplify my meal plan. I've followed at least 50 blogs, emeals, and so many other plans and I just can't seem to follow for more than a week or so and there are always complications.

So, I've actually contemplated doing this very thing, with the set menu and list and just deal with it. My family would be fine, but I'm the one who gets bored!

What I've started doing lately is buying what's on sale and getting home and making a list of all possible meals out of what we have. I type the list (appearance is everything) and put it on the fridge. I don't assign days because I am flaky and might not want pizza every Tuesday. So, as we eat one meal off the list, I mark it off and keep going.

I have also recently decided to only spend a certain amount each week and challenge myself to see what I can get with that amount.

And, on the summer topic - I'm looking into the local YMCA for my son and I. I'm going to take a water aerobic class while he does the free weights. We'll see how it goes :)

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