Entering our seventh week of summer, I’ve hit the wall. The summer wall. You know how when you are running a marathon, and around mile 21 or so you hit a wall of fatigue (or so I'm told) and you feel like you cannot run one more step?
That’s me. Pushing against the summer wall. Pressing forward through the sweltering hot, long days of summer with my six kids.
Listen, I’ve done my duty in regards to summer fun. I’ve helped them make the lemonade stands. I've taken them to the library and the splash pad. I’ve slathered on the sunscreen and jumped in the pool with them. I’ve filled up the baby pool and sat in a lawn chair in the driveway while they splashed away. I’ve hung out with them during “lazy” rainy afternoons in the house, and, when that got boring, we played in the rain. I've had all the neighborhood kids over countless days for free-for-all play time. I've cuddled on the couch with them and watched copious amounts of t.v. In short, we've had some serious summer fun.
But right now, I’m so tired. I’m tired of looking for their shoes every single day. I'm tired of the twenty outfit changes a day and all the laundry that they generate. I’m tired of figuring out what to make for every single meal of the day. (Side note: why are they all so hungry all the time?). I’m tired of answering the questions about what’s next and what fun thing are we doing today? I’m tired of wiping babies' bottoms and being buried under my children, all six of whom decide they want to sit next to or on top of me at the exact same time. And don't even get me started on the popsicle messes; I keep swearing I'll never buy them again and somehow we always have more.
Summer burnout is a thing, apparently.
Sometimes, I find myself fantasizing about being alone on these long, sunny days. On the craziest days, I look up how much it’d cost to fly to Napa that very day, where I’d stay in a really posh hotel and drink wine in a fancy bathrobe. I’d order room service and eat my meal on the bed while watching really crappy reality tv. All alone, with no one sitting on top of me. What a luxury.
I know you’re suffering from it too. That’s why we were both at the gym for two hours yesterday (hello free childcare), even if we didn’t sweat very much. It’s why all the go-to babysitters are booked right now. It’s why all the summer camps are full, despite their totally over-inflated prices; it’s supply and demand at work.
I have two solutions to help us all enjoy these summer days.
First, let’s forgive ourselves daily when we lose our patience, our keys, and everything else too. Summer is hard. Fun, but hard. Like life. It’s ok to lose your patience when they leave their wet bathing suits all over the house for the millionth time. It’s ok to be frustrated when you have to answer the 7,535th question of the day. It's ok to curse and get mad when no one has picked up their toys and shoes that are strewn all over the yard. Forgive yourself and move on, tomorrow is another day. One where you will likely be asked 8,345 questions, so get ready.
Second, I’m working with my kids to foster an attitude of gratitude. I had a long talk with my kids about gratitude the other night, and, after a few false starts (“I’m grateful that I’m grateful!”), I think they have the idea. I know my kids want the summer to be an endless carousel of fun where they spin around and around and around until they hop off at the first day of school, but that’s not happening, kids. Because that's not life. Life also includes down days, where we clean up and do laundry and go to the grocery store. That’s why we’re going to talk about what we’re grateful for every day, a la Oprah, if you recall her love of a daily gratitude journal. If it works for Oprah, surely it will work for us, too, right? So we're going to be like Oprah on these summer days and name three things we're grateful for each night before we go to sleep. (So recap: forgive yourself and be like Oprah. m'kay?).
Look, I know we’ll get through this crazy, busy summer. One day and one step at a time. We’ll limp, we’ll crawl, but we’ll get there. And when we do cross that finish line on the last day of summer, let’s meet up and toast ourselves with giant margaritas. In the meantime, I’ll be checking flights to Napa, forgiving myself daily, and channeling Oprah's attitude of gratitude. Solidarity, fellow parents, we can do this.
(Note that this post also appears on my blog: http://rousselsixpack.blogspot.com).