Working With Kids


Summer is here and so are the kids, school having just let out last week.  Transitioning from having 6 hours a day to work quietly by myself to working with them home is never easy, on me or them.  I thought I had prepared myself better for it this year, but the first full day of summer break ended up being complete chaos.  The kids were non stop bickering, I was running from thing to thing, sometimes literally feeling like I couldn't catch my breath.  I had a friend watch the kids for an hour in the middle of day just so I could pick up some glaze and drop off work for a client and I was scrambling the whole time, in order to pick them back up so he could get his own kids down for a nap.  By the end of the day I was completely fried and just kept thinking, this will not be sustainable.  

During the school year, after I drop the kids off, I typically sit down and write a list of things that need to be done.  I also look at my calendar and see if I have any appointments or things scheduled in advance.  Than I make myself a rough schedule for the day, using this info.  I never follow the schedule exactly; it's more of an outline to help me manage my time and stay on track with what needs to get done and what can wait for another day.  

After the insanity of the first day of summer, I started to wonder if this approach would help.  I know kids really love predictability, at least mine do, and they love having a say in things.  So, on day two, we sat down together and I asked them what things they wanted to do today.  They each got their own list which included things like play legos, ride bikes, read books, etc.  I made my list as well: work in the studio, spread mulch on the garden, do yoga, send invoices, file expenses....  Then we looked at where our plans overlapped.  For example they both wanted to make something with me in the studio, something they don't do very often, so I was happy to schedule that time together. We also looked at what things best fit in where.  I wanted to spread mulch first thing, before the day got too hot and we all decided that playing legos and reading books was a great mid-afternoon activity for when everyone was feeling a bit sleepy.  We didn't follow our schedule closely at all, but when we had finished making it, the kids were both really energized and ran to get their bikes because that was first  up.  Sure, there was still some crankiness and a few squabbles during the day, but nothing like the day before.  They even made lunch while I finished up in the garden.  The act of putting intention into our day really seemed to help all of us work together to shape our time into something that worked for everyone.  I plan on trying it again today.  I don't expect all of our days will go as smoothly, but it was one of those rare parenting wins and I hope to bask in the glow for just a bit longer.