Summer was always something to look forward to, wasn’t it? As the weather warmed in April and May, we, as grade school students, got that itch to roll around in the grass and ride our bikes in circles in the cul-de-sac.
For my child-self, those summer days were never long enough. The hours at the pool passed by way too quickly. Mom always called us in from our summer night games too soon. “Just one more game of tag, please!” we would beg. She would glance at the clock, look at our sweaty faces and agree, “Just one more.”
Today, as a parent, I realize my mother probably let us stay out for one more game because it meant we would be exhausted and go to sleep without a struggle.
In fact, as a parent, I realize that summer is not exactly the treat it used to be. Many have to work year-round, so summer days are no different from other days aside from the devastating heat that hits you in the face on your walk into the office.
For we stay-at-home or work-at-home parents, summer can actually feel like more work because the kids no longer have school – sweet, beautiful school – to entertain them.
We have made that switch, that undeniable shift from having a childlike love for the long days of summer to the adult-like dread of the sun staying up too late, making our children think bedtime comes much later.
We parents of young children are often reminded that the days are long and the years are short. In summer, this seems more accurate than ever, so we are forced to making little changes – shortcuts, life hacks, whatever you want to call them – in order to simply make it to another steamy day. I think I’m only surviving this summer because:
1. I consider swimming in the pool a bath.
Don’t ask how many times my kids have been properly washed this summer. You don’t want to know.
2. I gave up on cooking dinners.
I really don’t remember the last time I made a meal. My kids have what we call “picnic” dinner most nights. I put a blanket on the floor and plop them on it. I take our biggest cutting board and cover it in cheese, cucumber slices, strawberries, crackers and anything else I can easily grab. That’s it. That’s dinner. Feed yourselves, munchkins. No forks necessary.
3. I stopped cleaning my house.
What is the point? It’s dirty again in 30 minutes. I have resorted only to cleaning when I know someone who is not blood related will be coming over.
4. I have one really, really lazy day every week.
I turn off the nagging voice in my head that says screen time is bad for kids and let them spend a few hours watching shows on the PBS app. I then sit in the recliner and ignore the piles of laundry, the work emails and the weird smell in the playroom. We all need that break.
5. I say “no.” A lot.
I don’t like doing things. I don’t want to drive 30 minutes for a play date or spend a Saturday afternoon at a kid’s birthday party. I used to try to make every event. However, this summer, I started saying “no.” Sometimes, Saturdays need to be time with just my family. Sometimes, the kids are too burned out to go over someone else’s house. And you know what? Saying “no” feels good. Super duper good.
I’m not SuperMom. I can’t do all the things all the time and have a clean house, and I really can’t do it when it’s 100 degrees outside. My kids are still making memories and enjoying their summer. Maybe when they are older, summer won’t seem so long, but for now, it seems interminable.