Ah keeping my cool in the summer. With four boys ranging in age from a newly minted, (and very oppositional) 4-year-old, an 11-year old and twin 14-year-olds this is a very tall order. There’s incessant noise, sibling frays, seemingly endless cycles of repeating myself oh and a LOT of food and snacks flying out of my fridge and cabinets because inevitably there’s at least another kid in the mix.
Let's just go over the past 24 hours or so. My 11-year-old started a day camp. Pickup on day one I had to talk him off the ledge. Day two it was, "Great! I love it so much!" The morning of day three he was hiding in my laundry room refusing to go. Meanwhile the oppositional 4-year-old said to my husband, "Your wife is not nice." Is he four or 44? What preschooler says things like that and about his devoted mother no less? While all of this craziness was happening, one of my 14-year-olds was at the beach with a friend and experienced a mild case of heat exhaustion. I got the phone call from the boy's mom that he had to be taken by cart to the parking lot. Seriously what's next?
Today the 14-year-olds had a friend over. I was taking my 4-year-old's deflated birthday balloons down when they started using the helium to talk like Minnie Mouse. As they were rolling on the floor laughing with their high pitched voices I noticed the 4-year-old joining them in the laughter as his blue face paint was getting smeared all over my living room carpet and that’s when my blood pressure soared higher than what our current heat wave is feeling like. It always takes one small thing to push me over the brink of wanting to massively lose it. But then I thought to myself, that’s the exact spot the dog pulled her butt across the other night and I don't want to lose it in front of a kid who isn't mine so I'm letting this one go. So I turned to my morning coffee, added some ice and left the room dreaming about when “Bachelor in Paradise” was going to start and school too. How many days until school starts again?
I find the constant needs and frenzied activity to be stressful during the summers of 24/7 togetherness. As an introvert, I somehow ended up with four extroverted kids who love constant activity and thrive on stimulation. The days seem so long but I find having small things to look forward to as key to my survival and mental health whether it’s a cup of hot coffee, having my husband take the kids around the block so I can paint my nails or a favorite show to look forward to when everyone is finally in bed. Self-care goes straight out the window when you’re doling out snacks like an auctioneer and trying to be referee to unreasonable sibling insanity day after day.
I have a favorite 14-minute meditation on my iPhone that I listen to sometimes too and it honestly helps me calm down even though I can hear crashes and yelling from the other room. Being good to yourself and carving out some time even if it’s 5 minutes for a glass of wine on your porch while the kids watch a show can make all the difference to surviving summer.