Thursday, July 19, 2018

Summer Days with Small Children

Pink Hydrangeas on Mrs. White's front Porch 

We have been enjoying having the children and grandchildren over quite a bit the last few weeks. Summer days are a relaxing time to enjoy the outdoors and the peaceful pace of the season.

It is good to have a routine to prevent grumpiness in the family. Children can get overwhelmed with all the activity and they may get over-tired.  A routine and a schedule can help prevent this.

When I was growing up, all the mothers in the neighborhood were home.  I had relatives who lived on our street, as well as on a few streets over.  We would get together for picnics in our front yard.  There was watermelon and just happy times of playing.  We children would walk around the neighborhood, going to the corner store and to the private beach at the end of our Massachusetts street.

We were always delighted when the ice cream truck would drive down our road. We would be outside playing and hear the bell.  Since we lived on a dead-end road, we knew we had time to run to our Mothers for some change.  Then we would run back out to the sidewalk and wait with the money in our hands. We would just stand there, like good, sweet children, waiting patiently.  Soon we would hear the bell ringing and the truck would be heading back to us.  We loved taking our time choosing which treat we wanted.

When my own children were growing up, times were very different.  There were not so many mothers at home anymore.  But I kept a traditional summer routine, much like the one my mother had for us.

We would get up early and have our breakfast before the heat really settled in.  Any chores or baking had to be done in the morning hours.  I often started the process of supper before we got too tired.  This might be peeling potatoes, putting them in a large pan and filling it up with water.  I could just put a cover on this and let it sit until three in the afternoon when I started making the evening meal.  I was always a slow worker and wanted plenty of time to do the job.  When there was a lot of time available, there was less stress.  There would always be interruptions. Children would want to hear a story, or someone would need a Band-Aid.   Perhaps the phone would ring.  (This was before caller ID and before answering machines.)  I would make the call brief because the focus at this time of day was family and the dinner hour.   Most people understood that the evening time was just for family and the peaceful routine of winding down the day. Slowly and peacefully the kitchen work would be accomplished.

Throughout summer days, the children would have time to play outside.  I would often sit nearby while they played and laughed together. They always did something cute or entertaining that brought me a great deal of joy! 

Sometimes I would encourage a new game if they were getting bored. I would show them how to set up some toys and get them started.  This would quiet them down and they would get back to their play.  I tried not to let the children get "too riled up" because it would wear them out so much that they would get grumpy.  Children need peace and gentleness.  They need mother with patience and wisdom.

The children would need plenty of juice and light snacks. Lunch was always at around noon each day.  Then it was time for naps and rest in a nice cool room.  Often, the children needed to hear a few stories to help them to relax before their nap.

A nutritious snack and more juice would be served after this. We always had the children fold their little hands and bow their heads in prayer for all meals and snacks. It was so precious to see their little happy faces as they did this.

Soon they were back outside in the fresh air and sunshine.  If there was a baby, we would often just settle in the shade on a blanket or with a carriage (stroller).  We would usually stay outside for about an hour at a time and then come back in to rest or to play indoors.

 I always had the children help me with the chores, whether it was folding towels, sweeping the porch, or doing the dishes.  The children enjoyed helping me because we all did it together and talked and smiled.  I would praise them for their hard work and they would feel proud of themselves.  They needed to feel they were helpful and doing good things.

If it was very hot, there would be plenty of Popsicles served throughout the day. But we only ate at the kitchen table.  This helped keep the house neat and clean. Of course, the children were also welcome to have their treat outside and we often did this with watermelon at the picnic table.

The children loved to play with bubbles, little kiddie pools, beach toys, toy trucks, and baby dolls.  They could play for long periods of time if only a few items were offered. This way they were not overwhelmed. I would often help them clean up their games after use. This helped in two ways:

1.  The work was kept up to keep things generally in order.

2.  If everything was put away several times throughout the day, the children were always delighted to start fresh and play.  (Usually if the toys are left out and there is a mess, the children don't seem to notice their games and get bored. But if it is all cleaned up they want to play all over again!)

The main focus of the house was on the happiness and peacefulness of the family. If there was yelling or quarrelling among the children, it didn't last long.  All childish troubles were gently calmed with encouragement, wisdom, patience, and a great deal of understanding and love.

After supper, it would be bath time.  Soon the children would be cozy in their pajamas.  There was quiet play in the living room with perhaps a time of reading.  Sweet, sleepy children would be tucked into their beds with a prayer, a hug and kiss, and a gentle encouragement of a "goodnight. I'll see you in the morning."

These days, I am hearing that this kind of childhood is not so common in our culture.  Many mothers work outside the home.  When children are not in school or daycare, they attend something called, "day camp" in the summer months.  I very much appreciate that this is available for the working parents. But I can't help wondering what little ones are missing out on, when they are not able to have carefree summers at home, year-after-childhood-year, with Mama.


From the Archives -

Precious Days - Walking the Gardens with Baby.

A Blessing to have - A House Full of Babies.

A Happy Home - Serving Mister.

- To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book -Mother's Book of Home Economics .  Paperback, 312 pages.


Anonymous said...

I was so happy to see a new post this morning!

This sounds like my childhood and the one I'm making sure to give my children. I only wish we had more neighborhood children around for them to play with. We rarely see any outside playing...I guess they're all at camps and activities.

Actually, it's something that has me concerned at the moment. We homeschool, and my older children (ages 7 & 9), don't have any regular friends. They're very friendly and play easily with others, but everything works against us when it comes to being in a situation where they can establish friendships with other children. Most children in our area are in school and activities, so there's no one around to just jump rope or play tag with. When we try activities, although beneficial in other ways, they're so organized and directed that any chance of the children getting to know one another is nonexistent. We make sure to get out to the parks and library with no luck. And we even set up our own homeschool group which I called "recess" so we could get together with other homeschoolers and the children could just play, undirected (although not unsupervised) by adults, but there was no interest. I'm sorry if I got off topic, but do you or anyone have any advice? Sorry again if this is out of place!

Anyway, thank you again for a lovely post!


Lana said...

I am thankful that all of our grandchildren are home with their mothers. When we were growing up we went camping in the summer and we have such wonderful memories of that time with the family. My Mom had the Tupperware popsicle molds and made them all summer long. Our children grew up playing in our woods and swimming in the lake. We always had popsicles and watermelon and ate many of our meals outside on our deck. Fireflies were thick in our woods at night and we enjoyed watching them. What a blessing God gave us when he created the seasons!

Karina said...

This read was so beautiful and nostalgic. It sounded like the children had a beautiful childhood. I pray God blesses me with the ability to give my future children the same.

Anonymous said...

This brings back such happy memories.
Thank you for sharing such happy thoughts.
Mrs. C

Deborah Montgomery said...

This is such a sweet post and such a good reminder of what summer should be. We just came home from dinner out with some extended family and the little one played on the cell phone the whole dinner. And got to eat dessert instead of a meal. I feel sad for these little ones. They need structure (eat your vegetables!) but also freedom to play and enjoy the outdoors without all these electronics. What a gift a summer like you describe is!! xo Deborah

CountryGirl said...

Anonymous: I too have had some of the same problem. My children had been in the same school for a long time, but their friends changed quite often due to various circumstances, then they changed schools, and my oldest began homeschooling. We go to a large church so the same people aren’t always in the Sunday school. I have been very frustrated and have prayed for friends for my children, especially for godly friends, especially for my oldest. He hasn’t answered me yet that I have seen. However, he has shown me that every child’s experience is different, and what is needed for one or many is not necessarily what another needs. There are many children in the world who grow up miles from their nearest neighbor, and yet are good, well adjusted young adults and beyond. The difference is not that they have many friends growing up, but their parents taught them well how to behave towards others. If I were you, I wouldn’t worry, God knows where your children are and he has a better plan for them than you realize.

CountryGirl said...

I have a question, as you mentioned keeping the peace in your home and between your children. I need advice. I have four children aged 11,9,7, and almost 3. The oldest three have been at each other’s throats non stop lately. It’s always been an issue, but it has gotten much worse this summer. They boys (11,7) have been acting out once they get in trouble because they are mad about their punishment. I have three weeks to get them in shape before school starts— I don’t want to send them back to school in this condition. How did you handle and prevent your kids from killing each other??

Anonymous said...

Dear CountryGirl, I too have had to work through a lot of the same issues over this summer, and at this point I know it will be a matter of consistency on my part to continue the progress we have made. Here are some observations and help I've found, this article- helped to reveal the root issue and change my focus and perspective. Along with the constant (opportunity) for teaching, I've used calm, no frustration works so much better! prarranged and preinformed dogmatic, no 123 or one more chance discipline, all with this in mind : It takes two to tango! They are slowly learning to walk away, let things go and that it's better to put the other first! We've had a few very boring (grounded) days, but peace started to settle in and the "boring" actually became enjoyable. I start the day with Devotions, and teach as often as opportunity arises and end the day with prayer at bedtime with our observations, scriptures, specific request for help, repentance and THANKFULNESS for grace and the fruit we see and enjoy in thier obeying! I like to do this individually. They actually are happier and enjoying everything much more... and we go back to square one as often as needed. I hope this can help. I know its such a challenge but with God not an impossible one!

Amelia said...

A beautiful post. Yes, we tried hard to keep things simple too, living on acreage at the time was nice. I remember even as an only child, enjoying those popsickles or chocolate ice cream cone made by my mom as I contentedly played on my swing set.

I noticed Andrea's comment above. I remember feeling very much like her when our girls (we had four) were those ages. One day as I lay on bedrest with our fourth baby girl, I was listening to a Jonathan Lindvall tape and lo and behold he spoke of John the Baptist being raised in the wilderness as an only child. I don't want to blog on the blog (ha ha!) but after that, something very freeing in my spirit occurred and I realized our girls could be each others' friends. They already were, : ) not to mention elderly people etc. We had friends of all ages. : )

Our daughters are ages, 25 to 35 and they are still friends, and have also made long time friends as the Lord sent them along life's path.

I hope you feel encouraged, I think I know just how you feel.


Thank you Mrs. White for such a most encouraging blog, I hold your blog dear to my heart and glean fellowship from a kindred spirit here.

Love, Amelia

Heather said...

I just happened to find your post on BlogLovin and I couldn't agree more. I am one of the lucky moms able to stay home with her children. We are in that in between income bracket where I can't afford the thousands of dollars for summer camps for my kids or the after-school care, so I stay home. But I also view it as a chance to have quality time with my kids. I also live far away from any family members so there really is no one else to watch our kids but me. I think summers like the ones you described sound amazing. My kids have had the chance to go on road trips, do vacation bible school, camping and just stay home and play and watch movies or eat ice cream. Your post really resonated with me.

Anonymous said...

I played with all six of my children exactly the way that you described. My youngest just turned 12, and I so miss the days of innocence, bubbles, toy trucks and dolls! I have to admit, my kids are my best friends, and I long for those sweet summer days, coming in for our dinner, before bed baths, smelling from soap, and fresh pjs. I sometimes think that if I ever make it to heAven,God will let me relive these joys! Thank you for being a nice, old fashioned mother like me! There's not too many of us here in New York City! Regards, Liz

Anonymous said...

Sitting here drinking my super sweet iced tea, reading this post brought joy to my heart and a smile to my face. I could just see vividly everything you described as I read, imagining what it must have been like for you and your children!! Your children are so blessed to have those memories, most of all, to have you as their Mother. Many years have come and gone since my little ones scattered legos, played hide and seek, and built cardboard box forts to sit in while enjoying the long hot summers of California. Oh! but the memories do linger....and linger....thanks for the reminder!
I love your posts, and I love YOU!! God bless you!!!

Louca por porcelana said...

How adorable your post is...Make me smile!Thank you for sharing.Happy Pink Saturday...

Beverly said...

Sweet ideas and sweet memories. Happy Pink Saturday. Thank you for joining us to make Pink Saturday even more special.

This post is being featured on my Pink Saturday post this week as "the one with the most clicks".♥