When I signed up to write for DC Moms Blog, I knew what my first post would be: “Why Summer Break is THE WORST.” Everyone is so excited for summer break and I get that–if you have relaxing vacations and days laying by the pool with a book and a glass of rosé in your future. But what if you have young kids? Why are people so excited for Summer?!?! And now, here I sit as Summer comes to a close, and I have had a change of attitude (mostly). I approached Summer in a new way, which let me enjoy things that made me crazy/cry in the past. Here are the things I hated and what I did to come to love(ish) them. These are lessons learned that I plan to carry into the Fall.
Summer Day Camp
Why it is the worst: I love that my kids love camp, but the act of putting a new bathing suit and towel in their backpacks every morning seems like an insurmountable obstacle. I am not exactly sure why. Maybe it is the pressure of what will happen if I forget to do it, which in reality is that they just miss swimming one day, but feels like a much more significant consequence. There is also the new morning routine, the constant dress-up days (what is considered beach spirit day when you already wear a bathing suit every day?), and packing a lunch that can sit in the direct sun and not poison my children.
Learning to love it: I made things easy on myself wherever possible. I bought several new bathing suits for my kids so I did not have to do laundry every other day. I figured out the times when packing lunches would be hard and ordered the camp lunch service. If I have a Girls’ Night on Thursday, then that means the kids are getting camp chicken nuggets on Friday. Win win! I did not beat myself up if I conveniently forgot about a theme day.
Lessons learned for the Fall: Be kind to myself. School also has a ridiculous number of theme days. My kids won’t be scarred if I can’t figure out how to appropriately outfit them for moustache day (a real example). School also has hot lunch and getting school lunch should coincide with my Girls’ Nights. I may not need to buy extra bathing suits, but there will be lots of things I will need to buy at the last minute and there is no shame in two-day delivery (or one-hour delivery) for some items.
The Pool During Summer Break
Why it is the worst: The pool is the worst when you go by yourself with three kids at varying swim levels who are not all allowed in the big pool. I want to take my kids to the pool. They love it. However, I just can’t watch them all without having a minor panic attack. Or a major one. Or many major ones.
Learning to love it: OK, I did not learn to love the pool, but I learned to recognize and accept my reality. I can’t take all three of my kids to the pool by myself. I just can’t. I either need to get help or find something else to do. Last summer I felt pressure to go to the pool at least once a week by myself with my infant, 4/almost 5-year-old and 7-year-old. It was a harrowing experience every time. I learned that the infant becoming a toddler made it even worse. So, I stopped doing it. I don’t feel bad about it and I am not ashamed to tell people that when I turn down their pool invitations. One summer in the not too distant future, I will be able to do it again, but for now, I don’t go without another adult or I only bring some of my kids. It has been a relief.
Lessons learned for the Fall: Accept my reality. Yes, I want my kids to try a million activities and help them find their passions, but I am one person who has a job, a husband who works long hours and a toddler. Tennis may have to wait (I apologize to them now if that keeps them from Wimbledon). And my choices may be based on convenience more than anything else. Yes, that other basketball program may be better, but this one is right at the school at the end of the day and I don’t have to take anyone anywhere. Heaven.
Summer Break Family Vacation
Why it is the worst: We have found that the easiest way to vacation as a family is by renting out someone else’s home. So now, vacation is just doing laundry, cooking and cleaning in a different house without the stuff I need to actually do those things. And with furniture that usually skeeves me out.
Learning to love it: I love alone time with my family, but vacationing with other families takes the pressure off. Yes, more families means more kids, but it also means more adults. Two adults can watch four or five kids which gives other adults a break. There are also more people to take care of the chores and it’s more fun to cook with a bunch of friends in the kitchen with a spiked seltzer in your hand.
Lessons learned for the Fall: Lean on my community. Just because we are back home does not mean that it still isn’t more fun to cook with a bunch of friends sitting around your counter (and still having a spiked seltzer in your hand). Friday nights can be torture to parents after a long, exhausting week. Having other adults there (and kids to entertain your kids) can make it not just tolerable, but something to look forward to. We also should take advantage of opportunities where we can help each other and give each other a break. This past year, everyone from my neighborhood would show up at a birthday party, each having driven another person’s kid. As we head into the Fall, my new mantra is carpool. Carpool, carpool, carpool!
Summer Break 2018 (for lots of families) is in the books. It was exhausting and hot (SO HOT), but I surprised myself and enjoyed it. I am even a little sad that it is ending. But let’s not get too crazy, bring back my jeans and boots, I am ready for Fall!