Diving into summer chaos — Mommy Daze

DivingInToSummerChaosIt's been less than a week since both my boys had their last day of preschool.

I cried on their last day. Maybe because my oldest will be heading to kindergarten next fall, and I was mourning the end of his care-free preschool days. Maybe because my youngest had completed the major milestone of his first year of school, and I just can't believe how quickly he's growing up. Maybe because it hit me that I now have one of the longest summers ever ahead of me and two energetic boys to keep occupied — every single day.

The unfortunately familiar sounds of whining, bickering, complaining and quarreling have since re-entered our home on a regular basis. The first few days after school ended, I tried to remind myself that they were just adjusting to the new routine.

We also have a 15-year old girl from France staying with us for a few months, which has captivated my two little boys to no end. So the combination of a new daily schedule and a fun new visitor in our house has created an atmosphere of chaos. And what mother doesn't just love chaos? Not this one.

I like schedules, plans, and neatly organized calendars full of educational and fun activities for my children. And yet I'm also trying to save room to show our visitor some of the best sites on the East Coast during her short time in the U.S. One would think these two things would go perfectly together, but I'm quickly learning that what a 15-year old finds interesting isn't always what a 5- and 3-year old find interesting. Though I'm sure she'll be writing home about our trips to Chuck E. Cheese's and Six Flags, I imagine it would be more memorable for her to visit some of our country's more famous landmarks.

So how do I plan a summer that will include visits to numerous cities and tourist stops, and still be fun and not too stressful for my young boys? I've concluded it's going to take a lot of planning and a lot of flexibility.

I sat down with a blank calendar and a pencil and wrote in all the places I am hoping to visit and activities I want to do this summer. I also made a list of easy activities or nearby places to visit should our plans change last minute. I'm limiting the big day trips to cities like Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia to just one per week. I would like to bring the boys on some of these excursions, but plan to tailor them to accommodate two preschoolers along with a teenager.

On the down days, I will make a major effort to spend plenty of time on the floor putting together puzzles, building Lego creations, finger-painting masterpieces and splashing in our pool with my kids. Then hopefully, with a little luck, we will somehow make this crazy chaotic summer into a wonderfully balanced mix of memorable trips and lazy pool days.

Watts FamilyClick here to read more Mommy Daze.

Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.