Sunday, July 17, 2011

Early Morning Camp Week

Five days in a row, I have managed to wake my children up, and had them ready and out the door by 7:20 in the morning! I suppose other people do this kind of thing all the time, but I'm feeling rather proud of this week. This is an amazing feat for us, and one that really makes me appreciate our laid back homeschooling and lounge act all the more.

My kids have been going to an amazing science day camp, which is a terrific experience and all, but it just starts really, really early, and goes all day long. Since we live in the boonies, everything is at least a 30 minute commute for us too, hence the ridiculously early departure. I suppose many people in cities have half hour commutes that are a lot more frustrating than ours, so we really shouldn't complain (but I still do.) While we're passing cows and occasionally getting stuck behind a slow RV, millions of people are stuck in a sea of actual traffic. Still, all that time in the car is not any of of our favorite things.

The good thing is that the kids are learning a ton, both academically and in the social world of middle school age kids, which is a place like none other. I do love seeing their excitement and hearing all of the adventures they are having. They're learning how to navigate tricky situations that aren't that serious, but are new and different for them, and they get to play with Ipads and make Lego robots and movies all day. They're meeting new friends, and working with adults who are passionate about science and technology, and who even seem to like their jobs as well as actually liking kids. They're having a great time, but they are also exhausted.

It makes me wonder how people can keep going on schedules like this year round. While we rarely sign up for classes before lunch, and try hard to protect good chunks of free time, lots of families seem to have kids scheduled for 10 to 12 hours a day between school and other activities. Then there is homework, and they even have the weekends booked with sports and church. It's no wonder so many kids get "bored" with any amount of unstructured time. They've forgotten what to do with themselves when no one directing them, and that is a sad situation.

In any case, I'm not what you would call a morning sunshine type of person, so that has a tad bit to do with our aversion to early activities. Even though I often wake up early, I just really prefer not to talk to many people until after 8 am. Prior to that, I am in my own little bubble of peace with coffee and a book or my laptop. Later, when I am up and fully caffeinated, I would much rather lounge around reading stories, playing games, exploring the creek or making crafts with my kids than rushing out the door in the morning. The kids seem to like having relaxed mornings when we use the time together to do the things we really like, and the days just seem to go better when we start at a leisurely pace and avoid the mad hurrying.

But, this week, we made it there before 8 AM every day, and we weren't even late once... another amazing feat for us. There was a little more bickering than usual due to the tired factor, but it wasn't as bad as I feared. It's odd to have such a quiet house, and I am trying to relish the small bits of freedom and solitude. I'm rarely home entirely alone, well, except for the animals. Even with the interruptions of furry friends, it's still pretty silent. At least I'm getting a decent amount of reading and writing done.

I am also feeling a bit disconnected though. We have done these week long camps before, and it always feels a little strange to have no responsibility for my kids all day for multiple days in a row. This year, lunch is even provided, so all I have to do is make sure they have a granola bar and water bottle. I don't even have to deal with feeding them. For a hands on mama, this is just bizarre. It's like part time parenting, and by the time we spend much time together, everyone is already tired and spent for the day. Is this what it would be like to have kids in school?

While I'm thrilled that my kids got to experience this camp, and I know they had a blast, we are all glad that it is just one week a year, and not a way of life. The kids are already asking what days we get to stay home and even gently suggesting we say no to a few things next week. They're wise little things- I think we can all use a little recovery period.