Scheduling Summer in the Space Between

Making time for creativity and your kids in the wake of COVID-19

Photo by Cassidy Kelley on Unsplash

Usually at this time of year, The Space Between would be focused on providing helpful articles on how to set up summer schedules to prevent the infamous “summer slide” without an over-reliance on screens.  Or how to select summer camps to optimize enrichment opportunities and to get everyone out of the house so that writers can write. 

Thanks to COVID-19, the jury’s still out on summer camp here in New York. We’re schooling from home for another few weeks, but with summer looming on this Memorial Day weekend, and most of the country in some phase between lock-down and “next normal,” what should we be doing as parents to prepare our kids for summer? As creatives, how in the midst of this uncertainty, do we provide for the time we need to work on our craft? 

Furthermore, how are we supposed to manage any of it when the ability to set and stick to a schedule has changed week-by-week, and sometimes day-by-day, for the past two months? 

There are two schools of thought on this. Those who love structure (hello, Plotters!) schedule your kids’ time and your writing time. It’s all on the calendar (virtual, plannered, or both), and the calendar rules! No excuses. The Muse comes when She comes, but she’ll know where to find you better if you make yourself regularly available. And your kids will thrive when there’s a set routine.

The other way of thinking, which I’ve advocated before, is that there are seasons to parenting and writing, and it’s best to go with the flow (Camp Pantser). If your family needs you more right now, or your mental and emotional exhaustion has your well running dry, then take the time that you need to take care of yourself. And to take care of your kids, who are dealing with all the changes keeping us all off balance, but with less life experience to help them find their center. Find ways to replenish. Give yourself some grace. Live to write another day and be gentle with yourself, and the small humans in your care, in the meantime.  

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Handling First Day Of Camp Fears

Cara Martinisi is a wife and mother to three boys. Her oldest son lives in heaven. Cara is dedicated to helping families navigate life post child loss. She is a contributor to The Mighty and writes an inspirational blog about her journey through grief. She shares her unique outlook on child loss at www.christiansredballoon.com. As our guest blogger today, she reminds us to find the balance our own anxieties and those of our kids.

 

This morning as I sat editing my latest writing piece with an urgent feeling, my five year old son, Nicky, came to me, whining that he didn’t want to go to camp. My husband misspoke and told him to “Have a good day at camp!” He truly thought that it was the first day.  My husband didn’t realize that he had just ignited anxiety in my son. Of course he would never do that intentionally but upon hearing that he would be going to camp, Nicky panicked.

I wish I could say that I responded as I would have liked right from the start, but I didn’t. I continued on, editing this piece because that’s what I was having anxiety over! Camp didn’t begin today and I knew that we had time to deal with the issue. My writing piece however, was due today. As I kept my eyes and attention focused on my writing, Nicky carried on whining that he could not go anywhere without his mommy and daddy. He said he was scared to be without us! This was, of course, not true. He had just completed a year at preschool! He went on playdates without us! He was just trying to play me! Admittedly this was all probably part of the reason why I ignored his whining and responded by telling him, in a frustrated voice, that camp was not starting today!!! Who wants to hear their kid whine? Especially when attempting to attend to an urgent matter of your own.

Once it became clear that I would not be able to focus on my own anxiety and writing piece, I looked up and actually saw my son. Immediately I was reminded about a book I am reading called, Strong Mothers, Strong Sons, by Meg Meeker, M.D. The premise of the book is to help mothers develop healthy relationships with their sons. Meeker writes, “Every mother has to start the process of building an emotional vocabulary when her son is young and do her best to help him acknowledge and express appropriate feelings in the healthiest manner possible.” My tactics of simply telling my son that he had nothing to worry about was not in line with that philosophy.

My writing piece could wait. It was clear that the anxiety about having to start camp was torturing this poor five year old. The self-deprecating voice in my head would just have to wait now too! I would have to deal with my own conscience about how I treated him later. Right now, he needed me. My children are, and have always been, my priority.

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