If you could not already tell from the warm air, the fireflies and the fact that the sun is lingering in the sky longer than normal, summer has arrived. Ah summertime, the season of relaxation. The days are spent basking in the sun at the beach, swimming in the surf, and chilling out with friends. The nights are spent with a chilled glass of wine while the delicious smells of barbeque fill the air around us. Wait. What? Does this scenario include children? No. It definitely does not. While summer is a welcome break from the winter it can also be a really stressful time for parents. The thought of having to figure out something for our kids to do every day for two straight months can feel really overwhelming. Do we really need to figure out something for them to do every single day? I don’t think we do.
When I look back at my childhood and think about what made summer my favorite season it certainly is not that my parents entertained me 24/7 for two months. I loved the same things about summer then that I love now, and I am determined to make sure that my children grow up with that same love for summer. Here are five things I plan on doing to make sure our summer is full of memories and void of stress.
1.Say yes! There are so many days that I sit on the beach and watch my kids swim or I sit by the pool and watch my kids splash around. So often when one of them says “Mommy will you come in with us?” I respond with, “maybe in a little honey.” Why? What on this green earth am I waiting for? Some of my favorite memories as a kid are the times my mom and dad would get in the water and play with us. I loved when they would splash around like kids and laugh during games of Marco Polo. I want my kids to see me participating in our summer. I don’t want them to have memories of me observing it. I’m going to participate in both the small and the big moments. Kids are learning to explore the world around them and I bet I could learn a thing or two from them.
2.Allow the housework to wait. My friends tease me sometimes and refer to me as Monica Geller. Admittedly just like my favorite Friends character I may spend too much time cleaning and organizing my home. It is way too hard to have a stress free summer and try to keep up with things like I do throughout the year, so I’m going to throw caution to the wind. I’m going to allow the laundry to wait until the kids go to bed. I’m going to leave the vacuuming for a rainy day, because life outside is happening and I told my kids I would participate in it.
3.Forget bedtime. Okay so I won’t forget bedtime entirely, but I will allow my children to stay up later than normal. There is nothing that relieves stress more than running through the yard in the moonlight and catching fireflies. If that doesn’t work try lying on a blanket with your family and staring up at the stars. Stress? What stress? Do you hear that? Oh that’s the sound of crickets making the sweet sound of summer melt your cares away. Sure kids need a schedule and no one is more in favor of this than me, but when it comes to summer sometimes the best schedule is no schedule.
4.Eat outdoors. There is something about eating a meal outside that makes you want it to last longer. A simple cup of coffee in the morning on your patio, deck or porch can make the whole day seem doable. Have dinner on the deck after a long day with the kids or at work and suddenly you are on vacation. Go ahead and light some candles, put on some Jimmy Buffet and breathe. You will be amazed at what great conversation and laughter can do to melt your worries away. Kids are funny. Allow them to make you laugh.
5.Be silly and laugh at yourself. Laughter really does heal. There is something about laughing with those you love that makes everything better. Some of the best laughs I have had since I have been a parent are the times I am laughing at myself. Life with kids is full of imperfections and those imperfections seem to really show up once the kids are out of school for two months. It’s how we deal with those imperfect moments that define our stress levels. I can choose to watch my kids play hide and seek in the backyard or I can choose to participate and laugh at the fact that I cannot in fact hide behind that skinny tree without them finding me immediately. I’m going to choose to hide behind the tree this summer. I can choose to complain about the giant amount of stuff we have to lug to the beach or I can choose to laugh at the fact that my husband looks like John Candy in Summer Rental as we find our spot on the sand. I’m going to laugh a lot this summer. Sorry honey.
Summer is here and I think I am more than ready to tackle each day with as little stress as possible. On the days that I feel the stress starting to creep in I am going to grab my coffee, sit on the deck and then leave it behind when my kids ask me to get on the swings with them. It’s going to be great.