The summer has arrived, which means lots of camps for our little ones and that includes “Mommy Camp”. What is “Mommy Camp” you ask? It’s when your child does not attend a structured camp but instead hangs with you, Mom, a.k.a. the “Mommy Camp” counselor.
It’s a special time to spend with your kids without worrying about schedules and homework. It’s filled with lots of swimming and water play, ice pops, playdates, cuddles, laughter and bike rides. Oh yah, and I forgot to mention it’s also a time of endless snack preparation, cleaning up, whining and zero time to yourself.
Welcome to the Mommy Camp Diaries!
Fantasy: There is no alarm clock and everyone sleeps late. After breakfast, you all head to the park and have a glorious time without any injuries. Next you head home where everyone naps and you have some down time to read your book, check your e-mails, do some work and take a much needed break.
After everyone wakes up and feels refreshed, you all agree on a fun activity like playing your favorite board game, followed by a visit to the ice cream shop. Everyone helps prepare a gourmet dinner and tidy up the house, followed by bath time, books and bedtime at a decent hour. What a great day!
Reality: There is no alarm clock but the kids manage to wake up earlier than when school was in session. Everyone wants something different for breakfast and the once clean kitchen is now a disaster. You head to the park and enjoy your time until someone falls off the monkey bars and is bleeding. You head home and the three year old refuses to nap even though he has napped every day for the entire school year.
You do not have any down time to read your book, check your e-mails, work or get some much needed down time. After you finally cave and put the television on for the kids, you feel yourself starting to doze when you hear, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” as you are getting poked to change the channel. You decide to turn the television off and engage in a family friendly board game, where one of your children gets frustrated and throws the game pieces all over the room. The afternoon outing to the ice cream shop is cancelled due to bad behavior and everyone is now in a sour mood.
You forgot to defrost the chicken so everyone is getting cereal for dinner. You are beyond tired so you skip bath time, read a book of your choice to the kids, meaning the shortest book you can find, and command everyone get into their bed. An hour later, you are still demanding your children go to sleep, while your husband pulls in the driveway, walks in the door and asks “what’s for dinner”. Argh!
Fantasy: Today it is all about the playdates. The kids are going to be so excited and will thank you for planning such a fun day. Your little guests will have wonderful manners which will be evident by the number of “thank yous” and “pleases” heard throughout the day. No one will ask for continuous snacks as they have all eaten prior to visiting with you.
The playdate arrives on time and while the kids are playing nicely and quietly, you and the other mom have coffee and catch up. Before the guests leave, they insist on cleaning up the mess everyone made. After they leave, the children give you hugs and kisses and that “thank you” you assumed you would be getting.
The youngest says he is beat and heads up on his own for a nap, while you do some summer homework with the older kids to ensure they keep up with their studies while school is out. A few hours later, the kids ask to help set the table while you cook their favorite meal. Everyone is tired from the playdate and turns in early.
Reality: Today is all about the playdates which will give you some time to catch up with a friend, while giving the kids some time to play with their friends. The kids ask you every second when their friends will be arriving and you are starting to wonder the same thing. You decided not to run an important errand this morning in case you weren’t back in time but your friends are already an hour late. You now need to push back or cancel nap time and your whole morning is off schedule.
You prepare snacks for everyone, which looked pretty an hour ago but is now half eaten by your own kids. You spend an hour, and all the breath available in your lungs to blow up the kiddie pool in the backyard and right before your guests arrive, your dog decides to go for a dip and pops the pool with her nails, sending a tsunami of water all over your backyard.
The guests finally arrive at the same time as your lawn care appointment which you forgot you made a week before. You look at your watch and realize it should be nap time but know it is an impossible feat given the situation. You dive into making water balloons which your children consistently pop over your head and then go inside to make a delicious ice cream shake to which no one seems excited about or is thankful for.
A little while later, everyone heads inside without cleaning up which you quickly put the kabash on. You finally get in some quality conversation with the other mom until you realize you hear silence upstairs, which is never a good sign for a playdate. You wonder what is going on upstairs and never figure it out until several hours later when your bathtub is graffitied with every shampoo, conditioner, soap and anything else that is liquid, colorful and available.
After many hours, many thankless snacks, drinks and food orders, it is time to wrap it up. You are beyond exhausted and feel like you ran a real camp today. The new summer homework books are still in the box they came in and you hope to have that conversation with your kids tomorrow.
Fantasy: You are surprised that your kids actually want to go to the gym nursery while you work out and cannot wait to finally get some exercise in. You are excited to go for a run and get your serotonin levels up while they are looked after by someone else for an hour, as you need the break.
After your amazing work out, one of your children decides they would like to have a sleepover, so you arrange the plans with his best friend’s mom and will take him over to their house after nap time for your youngest is over. Your oldest is excited to get some one on one time with you while his brother is at a friend’s house and after the baby is down for the night, you have an evening filled with cuddles, popcorn and movies, board games and fun.
Reality: You wake up, put on your exercise clothes and cannot wait to work out. You phone the gym to ensure the nursery is open only to find the current hours do not shift to the 8AM summer hours until next week. You are now in a foul mood but try to make the best out of it, so tell the kids you will all go for a bike ride instead. You figure this will make everyone happy, since you will all be together, get outside and enjoy the weather, all while you get to exercise.
Instead of smiles, nodding heads and excitement, you receive three frowning faces with loud huffs and puffs. You lose your patience, call your kids selfish and tell them it wouldn’t kill them to give back instead of always taking taking taking. You go through all of the fun and cool stuff you have attempted to do in the last few days followed by a speech that sometimes Mommy wants and needs to do something too. You feel under appreciated, disrespected and used.
Your husband is working from home for a bit and says you can head to the gym for a super quick workout. You decide you don’t want to be rushed and feel guilty going to the gym, not spending time with the kids during Mommy Camp. You choose the bike ride instead. The two mile adventure is filled with “I’m tireds” and “Are we there yets” but you block it out, enjoy the wind in your face and are appreciative of the exercise your body is getting and has been craving during Mommy Camp.
You snap out of your bad mood and enjoy the ride. You explain why you were so upset and forget you are talking to a three, six and eight year old, who have the attention span of a three, six and eight year old. You head home and realized you probably should have gone to the gym. After your son’s nap, you head over to a sleepover you planned and stay and play a bit so everyone is happy. Your youngest destroys your friend’s house and you run home (after helping to clean up) before she ends the friendship. Your oldest thinks it is unfair that he doesn’t have a sleepover, even though he had a two night sleepover at a friend’s house the weekend before. Is it Friday yet?
Fantasy: You are all worn out from going to bed late and waking up early so you decide to relax today and stay home. After breakfast, you all head outside to play soccer and enjoy the morning. You make a delicious platter of fruit and veggies and within minutes, it is all gone. Life is good and filled with the sounds of kids laughing and the dog barking, and you feel like a successful “Mommy Camp” counselor.
You look around and will be sad that there is only one more day of Mommy Camp as the kids are off to real camp next week. You regret sending them knowing that they are growing by the minute and in your head, start planning the next Mommy Camp session in a few weeks.
The day quickly turns into nighttime and you head out for a date night with your handsome kids. You walk to the restaurant which is down the street and order a glass of wine to celebrate your great week of Mommy Camp so far. Everyone finishes their meal, you head home, complete bath time and everyone is sound asleep by 8:30PM.
Reality: Everyone is exhausted from going to sleep way past their bedtime and you cannot grasp why no one is sleeping late, even though you are not surprised. No one wants to do anything except play video games and watch TV, which you would normally say no to but realize you actually want to do the same thing. You look around and feel thankful that there is only one more day of Mommy Camp. You get an A for effort and tried really hard to make it a great week.
You cannot wait for real camp to start so you can resume the life you had during the school year. You feel guilty for a microsecond and then quickly snap out of it. You are fearful for the next Mommy Camp session but will not think about it for now. The day drags on and you decide you are sick of cooking so you take the kids out to dinner. You explain your expectations of good behavior while out as if it was the first time you had this conversation.
As you enter the restaurant, people give you pity smiles which quickly turn into frowns as your kids start arguing and whining. You want to order a glass of wine or four so badly and wished you had walked instead of driven. You have no energy for the bedtime routine so as the clock ticks by, the kids are still up. You tell them you will cancel tomorrow’s awesome activities, (which you have yet to plan) if they don’t go to bed.
When the last child’s eyes finally close, it is 9:45PM. You are beyond tired, refuse to fold the laundry that has been sitting in the dryer for three days and get into bed. The little one wakes up within minutes of your head hitting the pillow and doesn’t want to go back to sleep. When he finally settles down, you return to your bed and the clock says 10:50PM. You turn on the television because you need to and deserve to unwind and it quickly reaches 12:30AM.
Even though you are beyond exhausted, you cannot fall asleep and stare at the ceiling. Last time you checked, the clock said 1:15AM. You finally doze off and when your eyes open again at 5:45AM, your son is standing by your bed, demanding chocolate milk. Really?
Fantasy: Everyone is sad the week flew by but are excited for a fun day ahead. You hop out of bed, get everyone dressed and head to the beach. The sun is shining, the water is calm and you proceed to have the perfect day with your kids. You feel so blessed that you could spend this time with them and feel on top of the world.
Reality: You are a zombie and have to force yourself to get out of bed. You keep giving your youngest the stink eye and explain he owes you endless hours of sleep. He just smiles and then throws his morning sippy cup of chocolate milk at your head.
You spend the rest of the day looking online for last minute camps to sign your kids up for so you will never have to endure another week of Mommy Camp ever again.
Together We Can Master Motherhood™...and Summer!
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