PARENTING: Summer Guilt, and I am Not Talking About Ice Cream

Here it is, 3 weeks to the start of the new school year, and I am wondering where the summer has gone. It seems it was just June, with the promise of free time sprawled ahead of me, with the intentions of doing x, y, z in preparation for the upcoming school year for and with my daughter. Now, the back to school commercials taunt me, and the back to school aisle in the store gives me anxiety and guilt. Not only am I mentally unprepared for the hectic times ahead, but physically as well. The only thing I have done is ordered school uniforms online, and got in a dentist appointment. But the feelings of unpreparedness are not just for me, but for my daughter. As every summer before now, we worked on summer work that was sent home from school. And I fought, pushed, and worked with my daughter through the summer to get her summer work actually worked on. I even wrote a few posts about the pressure of school and how summer did not feel like summer anymore. There was one summer I had a math tutor and had my daughter involved in the summer reading program with the library. That summer felt as busy as any school year.

Maybe it was in retaliation to all this pressure or just plain exhaustion that I have been the path of least resistance to summer school work this year. I am not in the mood to fight with my daughter to get a couple work sheets done every night. And maybe I dont want to spend the last three hours of her day with me fighting and doing it. Maybe I want to bird watch or star watch with her, or work on a puzzle, or just plain snuggle and watch a movie? As much as I feel guilty in allowing her to skip school work, I feel justified as well. The school year is way busy for both she and I. I am a Girl Scout leader for her troop, I help her with piano practice for her lessons, and my husband and I share Karate trips. Add homework to the mix, and I get depressed thinking about it. And now she is talking about joining basketball. I need this summer "break" as much as I am sure she does. So there it is. I write this as I look at the pile of worksheets nestled in a folder named "summer work" on the table, taunting me right now.

Well, there is nothing for it. School is starting, that is a fact. And maybe my daughter and I can use these next 3 weeks to mentally get prepared by starting to hunker down and get working on some worksheets and flash cards...start nixing the comic type books and read a long chapter book. I hope that the break I gave both of us will reap benefits of more energy and focus for the fall. I also hope that even the other things we did together, like star watching and fishing were also learning experiences for her. After all, they are little sponges...learning all the time. And I always have read that quality time spent with parents is just as important as anything you could enroll them in, and unstructured play nurtures creativity. Well, time will tell. Now, I need to get my swimsuit on for a day of swimming with monkey-girl. Our hunker-down time will start Monday! We will enjoy our free time while we still can, and I will try and smother the feelings of guilt I have in the water!

And if any of you have ideas on how to entice children to do their school work during the summer without fighting, please add comments below. I am out of ideas and tired of being a shrew.

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  1. I am beginnig to wonder if this is just what happens the summer before 4th grade. Because, like you, I was always very diligent about all of the practice sheets, flash cards, etc. Until this summer. I don't know why. I really don't. We have worked on flash cards here and there, but for all intents and purposes, it wasn't constant and we really need the next 3 weeks to do those multiplication and division facts every day.

    And I am not the only one. Other moms of soon to be 4th graders are saying the same thing. They haven't done a thing.

    There is a part of me that thinks that MAYBE it is b/c we have learned from past grades that the first few weeks of school are actually reviewing things from the previous grade. Maybe we are all so tired of running and running that we are saying "ya know, they will just review X, Y, Z in the first few weeks of school"...who knows.

    But, like you, I feel guilty as well. Especially when I see how horribly things go when we try to do the flashcards and his answers are not as swift and he starts to cry...beside himself that he has somewhat forgotten things that he otherwise knew 7 weeks ago. THAT is really when I feel like a heel.


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