Top 3 Free Resources to Prevent the Dreaded Summer Slide

It is summer! Praise the Lord. No more crazy in-depth curriculum, no more tests, no more school! If your kids are anything like mine, they are super excited to be free from school for a while.

But what about their progress from the school year? Have you ever heard the term “Summer Slide”? It is coined a slide due to the fact that children lose about 2 months worth of skill levels during the summer. It may not sounds like much, but it adds up. Especially when the kids go back to school and the teachers have to focus on reviewing skills instead of building on the skills they learned the year prior.

In an article by published by John Hopkins School of Education the author stated this about summer education loss “Early summer learning losses have later life consequences, including high school curriculum placement, whether kids drop out of high school, and whether they attend college.” (You can read the full article here: Why Summer Learning Deserves a Front-Row Seat in the Education Reform Arena).

With all that said, while it is important to have summer vacation, it is just as vital to continue building the skills your children learn through the summer. So, I have some free (or cheap) resources for you to check out!

  1. Abcmouse.com

Abcmouse.com is an online learning resource (also an app!) for children ranging from pre-K to 2nd grade. My kids absolutely adore it! It is a very entertaining way to help your kids retain skills and learn even more on top of that.

They offer different tracks that teach reading, math, listening skills, science and art skills. Your child can venture through the various levels at their own pace. There are a ton of fun “prizes” for the kiddos to earn along the way.

At the end of their learning track, the kids earn a “graduation certificate”. My daughter was so happy she “graduated” that we had to put the certificate up on our living room wall!

Abcmouse.com offers one free month and then is fairly cheap after that! So, if you’re interested click the link below and check it out:


 

2. Your Local Library

Being a home school family, our library is such an amazing resource for us. Do you get to your library often? You should! Our library offers an incredible summer reading program. This year’s theme is “Building a Better Community”. The kids participate by reading books and marking them down in a book tracker.

Every time the kiddos finish a section, they receive a prize! The prizes range from a sticker to a free pass to a museum. Then, at the end of the summer, the kids that finish the program get to go to a pool party just for them! Not to mention the fun, educational shows the library puts on every week during the summer.

Our kids love doing this program every year and it has been pretty cool to see their love for reading continue to blossom! I highly suggest checking out your public library to see what they have to offer!

3. PBS

PBS is another great free resource for parents to aid in their child’s education. They offer television programming to free apps for devices. They have an entire website dedicated to the kiddos!

The website shares many ways to get involved, including the PBS app, PBS television and printable activities. Here is the link: PBS Kids Summer Adventures.

P.S. if you have a little one that likes to use a tablet (let’s be honest, they all do!) the PBS app is great for educational games that allow your kids to play with their favorite characters and learn skills like math, science and reading.

Those are the three resources we use most during the summer! What other resources do you use? Happy Summer!!

Laundry and Dishes

Hubby and I had the week off from our kids last week. Before they left , I thought that I would be doing all sorts of things from household honey-do lists to shopping for fun. Then the real kid vacation began and I honestly didn’t do much of anything. It was pretty anticlimactic. And, honestly, eye-opening.

Let’s back up a bit. I have been struggling hard with who I am at this point in my life. I keep asking myself what on earth do I have to offer other people; how can I help. I thought maybe going back to school to finish my masters would be the best thing to do, but it just doesn’t work at the moment for numerous reasons. I have been at a loss. Am I really here to do laundry and make dinner? That just seems too quintessential.

With all that on my mind, I thought for sure that I would have a great time catching up on all sorts of things and maybe have some epiphany of who I am supposed to be or what I am supposed to do with this life while the kids were gone. You know, come to see the bigger picture of what God was wanting in my life. (Which is a whole different post to discuss at a later time, lol!)

Guess what? I did have an epiphany. I realized that, my most important work right now is my family. I am meant to lead those children to become disciples. That is a hard realization. That is an answer which requires me to die to myself daily; to die to my own glory for the sake of God’s glory in them. Ouch.

After being punched in the face with that reality, I felt ashamed of not thinking that I was doing any work worthwhile. I felt guilty for thinking of only me and my life. And then I was brought to my knees with the weight of the task at hand. Hubby and I are our kids examples and leaders to Christ. That is INSANE! That takes my breath away.

So, here we are on the first day of the school year (we home school, yes, we are that family) and I feel more fulfilled than I have felt in a very long time. It has astonished me that serving other people, like my husband and children, actually makes me feel better. All I have to do is give it up to God. Every. Day. Give my life up to God. I wish I would have learned that sooner.

3 Ways Not to Become a Mommy Monster

I have recently discovered something about myself. I reach a certain point in the day and totally lose all my cool when anything goes wrong. I HATE that about myself and want to change it. So, I am working towards that goal. Here are three ways that seem to help me not be a mommy monster:

  1. Set a Schedule

There needs to be a schedule. I am learning this the hard way. Our family is the type of family that mostly flys by the seam of our pants. We like to be spontaneous and that is ok for some things, but not all things every day.

I have learned that when I have a schedule laid out for the day, everything goes that much more smoothly. I am at the point now where I have made a daily schedule. When we stick to the schedule, everyone knows what is expected and can anticipate the days activities, leaving less room for melt downs and crazy mommy episodes.

ruff-family-circus-schedule

2. Follow Through

Saying what you mean and meaning what you say has taken on a whole new interpretation now that we have kids. They remember EVERYTHING! When we tell them that we are going to do something, we better mean it. When they do not listen and we say we are going to discipline them, we better mean it.

There have been numerous times when I say that I am going to discipline them in this way or that if they do not listen and then don’t follow through. My behavior has led to them not believing that I will follow through with the discipline. When they don’t believe that there is going to be a consequence to their action, guess what, the action doesn’t stop.

On the other end, there have been a handful of times when I have said that we are going to do this or buy that and then have not been able to follow through. My behavior in that area also causes problems because the children start to not believe what I say. Who is going to listen to someone they don’t believe?

In both cases, I need to always follow through with what I say, whether it be discipline or something fun. I am learning to only say what I mean and always mean what I say. When I am conscious of that, the inner monster doesn’t pop its ugly head as often.

3. Take Mommy Time

I cannot even begin to tell you the importance of taking time for yourself. Taking time to do something that you enjoy, eat food that fuels you, exercise, read, dance, whatever it is that you love, will only benefit every aspect of your life.

When I learned that me time wasn’t selfish and stopped having guilt about it, I was able to fill my cup up. What can you do with a full cup? You can pour it out! Taking time for myself allows me to better pour into my husband and children.

You know those times when you feel like there is not one more thing that you can handle and want to explode? Well, when you have taken time for yourself, there is a way better chance that there won’t be an explosion because you’re not drained. So, fill your cup up!

I am hoping that consistently doing these three things will help me be a better mommy, wife and friend.

How do you avoid Mommy Monster Moments?

 

Growth

 

I met with a group of wonderful women the other night. Every time we meet, we go through some questions that are supposed to make us dig deep into conversation. One of the questions stood out to me this time. It asked “In what area of your life do you want to see growth?”. At first, I couldn’t answer, not because there wasn’t an answer but because so many came racing through my mind; getting in shape, being healthier, reading more, spending more quality family time, etc. But then there it was. My marriage.

For so long, I have (actually my husband and I both have) been putting a lot, if not all, of our energy into our children. We plan their curriculum and activities. We make sure that they eat healthier foods. We take the time to read, play and teach them. We go on outings that are meant for mainly their enjoyment. The list could go on for days! Now, all of these things are good. All of these things are meaningful to create productive, loving, empathetic human beings. However, there is a thin line between putting our children above our marriage and putting our marriage first. We crossed that line and now it is time to recover.

We went on a second honeymoon not too long ago which allowed us to reconnect on a whole new level. We were able to just be man and wife, best friends and lovers. That trip was wonderful! For one, we were both happier and for another, we were able to be on the same page for everything that we did. This new-found connection has shown me that I am not just a mom, my husband isn’t just a dad but we are two people who started a family and then added children to it. Meaning, we were married first, then our children were added onto our already established family. So, we need to treat it that way!

I have been reading a great devotional that discusses how to raise children in a Godly manner. One thing that the author touched on was putting marriage first. Evidently there is an order in the household: God, marriage, children. Now, when we put our marriage above our children, we are only doing good because it benefits us in obvious ways but it also benefits the kiddos because they feel secure, they have a model of what marriage should look like and they learn how to put other people first. All of that sounds pretty good to me. So, God, then marriage, then children it is!

This question of growth in my life, without a doubt, has brought me to the realization that my children are not the center of the universe and they shouldn’t be. It has brought me the realization that my husband is one wonderful man who I fall in love with every day. It has brought me the realization that although I struggle hourly with day-to-day life in general, I have a partner, best friend and confidant that I need to put first. I need to put our marriage first, not just for me but for my husband and my children. That is where I choose to grow today.

Second Honeymoon: The Internal Struggle

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Vacation…mmmmmmmm. Just the sound of it is absolutely wonderful. Images of the beach, warm sun, sleeping late, no worries in the world. That is how vacations used to be. Now we have kids.

My husband surprised me this past Christmas with a trip to Myrtle Beach. Not just any trip either; a second honeymoon! He planned out an entire week for us to be together without our children. Now that’s a thought. We have not taken a trip alone since our honeymoon; so that’s 7 years ago! Needless to say we were both very excited to go on this vacation.

We planned out the babysitter months in advance, shopped to make sure that the kids were all set while we were gone and packed up the night before we left. That night my husband and I both started to feel anxious about leaving our kiddos behind. Mind you that this was the first time that we were both leaving for more than a weekend. Don’t get me wrong, we were both still very much looking forward to the trip, there was just this small feeling of anxiety settling in.

The next morning, we left very early (16 hours’ worth of driving ahead of us). Getting up that morning was difficult. Getting in the car that morning was worse. I started crying as we left. I know, I know, I am totally that mom. My husband finally calmed me down and we were on our way.

The drive was wildly beautiful! I highly suggest traveling through the mountains. The further we drove, the more and more I relaxed. It took me all the way until we actually arrived in South Carolina to completely be at ease without our children. The resort was breathtaking, the ocean even more so. We enjoyed the beach, the room, the hot tubs, and everything else that Myrtle Beach had to offer. Which was a lot of family friendly activities, go figure!

While we enjoyed being there and reconnecting with each other, we both found ourselves saying how much the kids would love it there and planning out things that we could do with them the next time we go. There was even a moment, okay, a lot of moments when he or I would catch ourselves being those creepy people that stare at the babies and smile at each other. Yup, our second honeymoon was turning out to be super sexy.

In any case, it was an incredible week with each other. We laughed together, we went to dinner every night, we were lazy during the day and completely remembered how much we really enjoy just being together. If we hadn’t had any children, I don’t think that we would have truly appreciated this time together as much as we did. So, in that way, I am grateful for this relaxing re-connection. But, on the flip side, we definitely struggled throughout because of how much we missed our kids.

As the week came to an end, we drove a little quicker home. We wanted to surprise the littles. I think we traveled for 17 hours straight the first day! We pulled into the driveway the next morning and rushed in to hold our babies. It was a fantastic feeling to be home with them again. We told them all about our trip, showed them pictures and gave them their presents. Total contentment. Now, it’s two days later and I miss the beach.