The Rockwood Files: The Countdown to Summer

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

There’s a countdown underway. My boys announce it each morning as they bound down the stairs to leave for school. “Seven more days of school, Mom!” Jack called out happily as he slung his backpack over his shoulder.

They’re even coordinating their clothes around the countdown. Yesterday Adam wore a t-shirt with the number eight on it, and Jack wore a shirt with the number seven on it today. As I drove them to school, I overheard a bit of their backseat conversation and learned that Adam is planning to wear a basketball jersey to school tomorrow that’s emblazoned with the number six. They want the whole world to know about their impending freedom.

I, on the other hand, am not quite as jubilant as the boys are. They’re so eager to shake off the scholarly shackles of second and fourth grade. And for a couple of days, it’ll be pure bliss. They’ll revel in their newfound freedom. They’ll sleep in and eat breakfast at a leisurely pace. They’ll ride bikes in the cul-de-sac and plan water balloon fights with their neighborhood buddies.

But then one day – and I’m guessing it’ll happen before we even make it to June – they’ll come to me and say the line every mother dreads as summer break approaches: “Mom, I’m bored.”

We mothers find it so charming when our children say those three little words while standing in a house that’s brimming full with the toys of Christmases and birthdays past. It seems ridiculous, in a world with bikes and sports and books and apps, that anyone could be bored even for a second.

I can’t even remember the last time I was bored, but I’m sure it was before I became a mother. Since then, there has always been a long list of things to do that usually begins with three loads of laundry on any given day.

One thing I’m not planning to add to that list is acting as cruise ship director for the kids’ summer break entertainment. I’ve lined up a few basketball day camps for the boys and a gymnastics camp for their little sister. But beyond that, they’re going to have to figure it out on their own.

To make sure they do, I’m adopting a philosophy a fellow mother shared with me not long ago: “Get Bored, Do Chores.” Brilliant, isn’t it? I have no idea why I didn’t think of it before. Since my to-do list is long, I’ll just share some of the chores on it with the kids, if and when they come to me needing things to do.

Something tells me the new policy will cut down dramatically on the number of boredom complaints. Even if it doesn’t, I still win. By the end of the summer, I’ll either have kids content to dream up their own entertainment or I’ll have a really, really clean house. Score one for the mama.

Now that I’ve got a plan of attack for the age-old boredom problem, I have a whole new outlook on summer break. I have nearly 12 weeks off from packing lunch boxes and checking math homework. They’ll be no early morning wake-up calls and rushing around to make it to school on time.

Instead we’ll make snow cones and play in the sprinkler. We’ll go bowling or catch a matinee. That’s the great thing about summer – this dose of unstructured time to do whatever your imagination dreams up. And if for some reason their imaginations fall short, I’ve got a vacuum cleaner that’s ready and waiting.

Happy summer.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.