With just a few days of school left, I am facing a rather hard-to-admit truth:
I am terrified of summer.
The prospect of having four kids home with me, keeping up all my work hours, and facing the inevitable long, deathly hot days with kids who no longer nap and will require approximately eight hours of snacks a day is like something out of a nightmare. I am so ready for school and homework and pick-ups to be done, but this year, I already have a love-hate relationship with summer. I have every reason to be very, very afraid, but I’m working ahead of time to put a game plan in place that will leave me victorious this summer.
Step 1: Cut up all the things
I have been blessed with children who refuse to eat anything and everything that I prepare for them. Did they eat it school and love it? Gobble it down at a friend’s house with no problem? Request it last week at the store? Doesn’t matter. At home, food from me is Mortal Enemy #1. So, my game plan this summer is to say *$!% it to cooking and serve up a platter of finger food that they can graze all day like the true animals they are.
Step 2: Establish mandatory quiet time every day
I am no longer a mother of children who nap and I miss that blissful pocket of two hours of quiet time every day. I am telling you, mamas, cherish that time because you don’t even know how life-giving it is until it is gone. I am a hardcore introvert and even if I wasn’t, the sheer chaos of four young kids in close proximity to you all day long would be enough to make anyone crave quiet time. My point simply being, quiet time is good for the soul because we all need it — kids and parents alike. So this summer, I am instituting a mandatory quiet time in the afternoon so we can all survive each other. Even if it’s just for 45 minutes, I know it will make a BIG difference in all of our sanity levels.
Step 3: Bring in a mother’s helper
Did I feel a tad creepy getting phone numbers of my mother’s students (she’s a teacher)? Yes, yes, I did. Did that stop me from texting the students she recommended? No, no, it did not. Summertime is a desperate time for at-home parents and I have no qualms about finally bringing in some help ’round this here parts. I’m on the hunt to find someone who can come, even for an hour or two during the day, so I can get a few tasks done. I registered with Care.com for the first time in my life (I admit it, the premise has always scared me!) and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many qualified options in my rural small town. Hope is on the horizon!
Step 4: Sprinkler > pool
I know summertime is all about lazy days near the pool, but when you have four kids, nothing about going to the pool is “lazy.” There are so many suits and sunscreen applications and floaties and toys and hauling everyone out to go pee. And lest we forget about the dangers of drowning and horror of horrors, now secondary drowning?
Nope. This mama has no shame in her sprinkler game, where I can happily perch on a lounge chair and actually close my eyes for a second or eighty.
Step 5: Lower my expectations
Do you want to know what one of my favorite memories of summer as a child involve? The most vivid summer memory I have is laying on my parents’ floor on a pillow with my siblings in front of the fan. That’s it. Not going to an amusement park or having an all-day adventure or playing imaginative games that my mom dreamed up. My favorite memory was that moment of just relaxing with my family, literally on the floor in front of a fan.
Which is to just say, mamas, that we need to take it down a notch. We don’t need to worry about creating a summer “schedule” and planning out 10 million activities for our kids and hosting backyard barbeques and filling every minute with play dates. If you want to create lasting summer memories for your kids, just throw some pillows on the floor, switch on the fan, and maybe toss some books their way. Lower your expectations of what a magical summer is made of, and you just might find it where you least expect it.