It’s the first official week of summer camp. Getting the new morning routine established each year is a bit tough but within a few weeks things usually begin to smooth out. We need to leave earlier. There’s so much to remember. If it’s a field trip day that involves swimming, we need the swim suits. Packing a lunch is just like the school year but without the safety net of just buying lunch if the morning completely goes sideways on us. And there’s more traffic to battle because we’re not just meeting the school bus.
Believe it or not, what I’m about to share is a true story.
This morning, as I opened the refrigerator to grab some milk, there it was – a perfectly packed lunch. Where did this come from? I peaked inside: sandwich, apple, granola bar, cheese stick, juice box, a full lunch. My 9 year old daughter is NOT a morning person. Yesterday, as she was grumpily making her lunch, I casually suggested that she make her lunch the night before since she’s such a sleepy head in the morning. But I figured it would take a couple of weeks and a lot more suggesting to get her there. But she did it. And I didn’t even SEE her do it the night before.
While I was still recovering from my shock and dismay, my 13 year old son came in, backpack in hand, heading for the front door to set the backpack by the door.
“What is your field trip today?”
“Swimming.” I think one word answers are pretty typical for a 13 year old boy, especially one with Autism.
“Do you have everything you need to go swimming?”
“Yes”, as he walked passed me, no eye contact, and headed back into his room.
I couldn’t help myself. I had to peak inside the backpack to see if he really had everything. Towel, swim trunks, even a swim shirt, and a packed lunch. He listened. He took responsibility. He was ready.
As working parents, heck, as ANY parent, having the kids take responsibility like this makes getting out the door in the morning SOOOO much smoother! We’ve been working on this for while throughout the school year but I was so pleased so see them handing the additional responsibilities that summer camp brings. Here are my suggestions for how to help the kids chip in to have an easier time getting out the door in the morning.
The week school ended, one night over dinner I explained to the kids that they’d be going to the same summer camps as last summer but this year, I wanted them to take responsibility for bringing what they needed for their field trip days. If they forget to bring a swim suit on the hottest day of the summer, they will be sitting it out. It’s up to them to remember.
Use A Calendar
My son has an iPhone and we have a family calendar that I share with him. We get the schedule (from Outdoors For All) in advance via email. When the calendar for the week arrives, I create an all day appointment for each day of the week.
SUBJECT: OFA: Swimming [The OFA stands for Outdoors For All and my son understands this.]
LOCATION: Bring swim suit, towel, sunscreen, lunch
He looks at the calendar, knows what he’s doing that day and knows what to bring. My daughter picks up a flyer on the Monday of each week at camp. She is then in charge of that information to be prepared for her Wednesday and Friday field trips.
Stock the Fridge and Pantry with Lunch Stuff
We’ve got a shelf in our refrigerator designated for lunch stuff: Juice boxes, fruit cups, cheese sticks. it’s just above the fruit drawer that has apples, oranges, grapes, etc. It’s right at eye level for the kids. And as I see it get emptied, I know what I need to shop for. We also have a shelf in the cupboard set up the same way, at kid eye level, filled with granola bars, bread for sandwiches, chips, fruit roll ups, etc. The kids have 2 places to look for lunch ideas and lots of variety.
Help Your Smart Phone Be Smart
I know approximately what time we need to leave to drop off my daughter on time, then drop off my son on time, and then get myself to work on time. This year, I added an appointment to my calendar, “Drop off E”, set for 8am WITH the address of where the camp is. As I’m about to leave, Cortana on my Windows Phone (or Google Now on an Android Phone) pops up telling me I need to leave so I get there on time. This is the first year I’m trying this. I’m hoping that if traffic is bad one morning, Cortana will let me know that I need to leave earlier than usual in order to get there on time.