When the frigid months of March and April seem unending, I warm myself with the knowledge that summer is coming. When it’s so cold out my nose hairs freeze, I imagine sipping tea on the deck while my children make daisy chains and look at caterpillars in the yard. This is how I will myself through the lingering frost, but now that summer is nearly upon us, it’s time for me to leave la-la land and face facts.
SUMMER IS COMING! I say this with the same dread in my heart as the House of Stark when they utter “winter is coming.” My wee walkers bring with them a similar kind of mayhem that the White Walkers would wreak all over Westeros if it weren’t for the Night’s Watch. Okay, so maybe you don’t care about Game of Thrones, but if you’re a mom, you get my drift. Warm weather and the absence of school brings a specific set of challenges. The truth of my summer days look nothing like my fantasies. In reality, someone would be putting bugs in my tea while I yell at the others to stop hitting with sticks and peeing on the neighbor’s trees (true story, sorry neighbors).
So what’s a mom to do? I want to love the reality of summer as much as the ideal. So I’ve developed a plan.
- Hit the Gym. Yes, I’ve been busting it at the gym so that it’s “easier” to bust it all day with my kids. (I have to keep reminding myself there’s a reason I get up at 5:30 am by choice.) After months of hibernating and eating, I need to physically prepare myself for the daily cross-fit workout that is keeping up with four boys.
- No More Snooze Button. I actually need to permanently remove this feature from my alarm but it’s especially true in the summer. When we have school to get ready for, I know I can wing it until everyone is out the door. Not so much in the summer. If they get out in front of me because I’m still snoring when they get up, the day is downhill from there.
- Research. Planning activities for my kids in the summer is actually my winter therapy but now that it’s almost here, I kick it into high gear. My Pinterest board is full of projects, games, and activities. I’ve checked out this year’s dates for our favorite outings and added them to our calendar.
- Start a List. I don’t really like the term “bucket list” so I call ours a Summer Syllabus. I take all of my research, write it on a giant piece of butcher paper and post it in our kitchen for all of us to ponder.
- Work on our Flow. I, for one, can’t wait to stop fitting our round-peg, chaotic lifestyle into the square-hole of school and extra-curricular schedules. However, without a routine things can get a little gremlins-fed-after-midnight around here, so I’ve developed a flow. Everyday things, like eating, sleeping, and grooming will happen at approximately the same time but the rest we will leave up to the weather, our moods, and the magic of summer.
- Prep for Problems. This quote by Maya Angelou sums up my approach to possible problems, “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.” I’d like to think that my kids will be so enamored by my efforts that they will magically shed all bad habits and gladly jump on my screen-free, summer of love bandwagon. But that’s just me losing touch with reality again. In preparation for the inevitable, I am working on reasonable solutions to the media battle (maybe tickets for good behavior) and combating “I’m bored” (u-pick activity jar or “things to do before you say I’m bored” list).
- Gear Bags and Project Kits. Nothing throws a wrench in my good intentions worse than “wait here, I’ve gotta get….” Or when we finally all agree on something fun to do and we don’t have what we need to do it. So I’ve started packing multiple bags and pulling together activity kits. We have a swim bag that always has our towels, sunscreen, goggles, pool toys (you get the idea). When we come home from swimming, it gets restocked immediately so when we get the swimming itch again we’re always ready to go. I do the same for activities, we have a bubble box filled with bubble wands, bubble mix, etc. Similar to prepping for problems, if we already have the supplies in one place we can embrace the spontaneity of summer.
I can’t promise that my plan will lead to the perfect summer but if even a little bit goes right, I know I’ll be building a lemonade stand in my mind come next February.