Remember what summers were like pre-children?
Yeah, I know, it’s a little foggy for me too. What I do remember is that they seemed to last forever. We weren’t bound by the end and start of school. The first warm day of May signified the start of shorts and flip flop season. It would last until the first cold day of September. The magical, warm, sunshiny days were filled with happy hours on patios, barbecues, beach days, concerts and lazy afternoons in the hammock. Those were the days, right?
Summer post-children still has that magical, warm, sunshiny feel. I love watching summer through my daughter’s eyes. The days go so much faster though. There are activities to carpool to and birthday parties to attend. The calendar is filled before the end of April. Happy hours only last an hour before its time to get home for dinner. Barbecues are spent ensuring the toddler doesn’t harass the host’s dog. Beach days require a gallon of SPF 50. Concerts are of the “hokey pokey” variety and I have no idea the last time I got to sit in the hammock. The highlight of my “lazy” summer days is enjoying a glass of white wine on the front step before it gets too warm to drink while yelling down the block that my daughter has gone too far on her bike.
There is some magic in experiencing summer with your children. The ice cream cones, sprinklers and fireworks are all new again with the joy of a child. I know that we will only get so many of these summers with our children. But I’m going to be a little forward here and say that, in reality, we all only get so many summers ever. It might sound selfish…but it is our summer too.
It’s time to take back a part of summer for ourselves. And I don’t mean that beer or glass of wine in the evening while you weed the garden. I challenge you to take some of it for yourself. In our household we have actually made a tradition of it.
Remember how romantic summer used to feel?
My husband and I coordinate our PTO for a day date. We drop the kiddo off at school and head out to our favorite coffee shop patio for breakfast. Next up is an activity that can’t be done with a child in tow like stand up paddle boarding on Lake Calhoun. We follow this with a patio lunch and light day drinking (we’re responsible. We know we have to pick our daughter up later in the day.). We take in a little alone time and a nap at home before picking up the preschooler feeling refreshed and reconnected. It’s a glimpse of those romantic summer days of our past.
Remember how free summer used to be?
We each also take a day for ourselves. A day where the kiddo goes to school and the partner goes to work and we have no responsibilities other than to enjoy ourselves. To be perfectly honest, my me-day looks a lot like our day date just put yoga in for the activity and schedule some time in for a pedicure and reading before that nap. I’m not sure what my husband does and that is the beauty of this. It doesn’t matter what he does. It is his day to do whatever he wants. It’s a taste of that freedom that summer used to provide before we had kids.
Remember summer traditions from when you were a child?
We’re not totally anti-family time for these special days. We also take a day off all together. No work and no preschool for the whole family. We use this opportunity to try to get to our favorite Minnesota Zoo early and enjoy it without the weekend crowds. We’re a family of zoo fanatics so this is something that we all enjoy together. We squeeze in a special lunch, naps and whatever else we want because we have nothing else to do. It’s a summertime family tradition that we all look forward to.
I’m not saying that pools, sprinklers and ice cream aren’t magical for adults. I’ll take any of those on any sunshiny summer day. There is magic in summer that fills all days and I’ll say again that experiencing the joys of summer with children is the most powerful kind of magic. There is magic in a more grown up kind of summer too. We all have our own memories of a perfect summer. My challenge in writing this is that you carve out time to make summer magical for you. Find a little slice of that sweetness, like the perfect juicy watermelon, for you to enjoy. Whether it is romance, freedom or adventure that you’re missing, find a way to experience it.
It is your summer too.