I have no scientific studies to cite, but I assure you by the authority of a mom, spring fever is real. My kids all go a little nuts each May. There is just more life in their little bodies than they know what to do with. While I do love for all of us to come out of our winter hibernation, it can feel like I’m dancing with hungry bears. Sure, it’s thrilling fun, but they could actually eat me alive, so here are a few of my successful strategies to keep the children from turning feral. I’d love to hear a few of yours!
- Spring cleaning. With all the extra energy, we take time off school for good physical labor. There are tons of jobs even little kids can do. Weed gardens, pick up sticks in the yard, wash their own toys, anything to covert some of that energy into productivity.
- Remain predictable. With all that extra energy buzzing through their limbs, the last thing kids need is to feel out of control, like they never know what will happen next. I’m not a strict routine person by any stretch of the imagination, but I do try to keep the order of the day fairly predictable. We have morning meeting every day after breakfast where we have a short Bible reading and prayer time, then we discuss the day ahead and what to expect.
- Change it up! I just said to be predictable, but change is in keeping with the spirit of the season. We rotate chores, change up our morning Bible story book, rearrange furniture, go on field trips, paint a room. Just like the Lord brings new leaves to old trees in the spring, it’s a great time to bring new life to old routines.
- Practice sitting still for a few minute intervals throughout the day. Before we have any instruction time, we try to first sit still and quiet to get under control, usually for 1-2 minutes. I think the din can become so familiar, that we all forget the peace that comes from quiet. They need to taste it again and again. We try to focus on one sound all together, like the birds outside or the humming of the fan, sometimes Chris gives them a scene to imagine. Have them close their eyes if it helps. Just one minute seems to remind all of us what a blessing quiet can be, and it becomes something they want more of.
- Rest time. Very similar to the reasons for short intervals of mandated quiet, each day we spend at least 30 minutes alone either reading or playing with a quiet toy for non-readers. A little absence from each other does make the heart grow fonder.
- Give them plenty of opportunities to live like children. Don’t despise the way the God has made them. Let them run, laugh, yell, wiggle, get dirty and wet, build, jump, roll, and hang upside down. You don’t have to have a lot or make it as orderly as you think. If you don’t believe me, E. Nesbit might convince you (which reminds me, read good books out loud!):
But the children were wiser, for once. It was not really a pretty house at all; it was quite ordinary, and mother thought it was rather inconvenient, and was quite annoyed at there being no shelves, to speak of, and hardly a cupboard in the place. Father used to say that the ironwork on the roof and coping was like an architect’s nightmare. But the house was deep in the country, with no other house in sight, and the children had been in London for two years, without so much as once going to the seaside even for a day by an excursion train, and so the White House seemed to them a sort of Fairy Palace set down in an Earthly Paradise. For London is like prison for children, especially if their relations are not rich.
Of course there are the shops and the theatres, and Maskelyne and Cook’s, and things, but if your people are rather poor you don’t get taken to the theatres, and you can’t buy things out of the shops; and London has none of those nice things that children may play with without hurting the things or themselves – such as trees and sand and woods and waters. And nearly everything in London is the wrong sort of shape – all straight lines and flat streets, instead of being all sorts of odd shapes, like things are in the country. Trees are all different, as you know, and I am sure some tiresome person must have told you that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. But in streets, where the blades of grass don’t grow, everything is like everything else. This is why so many children who live in towns are so extremely naughty. They do not know what is the matter with them, and no more do their fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, tutors, governesses, and nurses; but I know. And so do you now. Children in the country are naughty sometimes, too, but that is for quite different reasons.
-from Five Children and It by E. Nesbit