The last day of school. There’s no denying its arrival any longer. It’s hot and humid and we need a plan!
Summer is an… interesting… time for stay-at-home parents.
On the one hand, I’m so grateful to be home with my kids. Last year, I was working long hours (part-time my bum!) and felt like I was missing something. After five summers with my kids, I felt like everyone else was on vacation but I had to work. (Not true, of course, but I don’t think you can ever forget the way summer felt as a kid.) Except that my kids had to “work” too—and were exhausted after long days at camp. Not always a bad thing! But it did involve a lot of crying.
So, I’m actually excited about being able to take them to the pool and on day trips and berry picking and to do other idyllic-sounding supposed-to-be-fun things.
Until I remember the last summer I was home with them. I was It was truly awful. I had an almost-5-year-old with no camp plans, and a just-turned two-year-old who still wasn’t sleeping at night. I was beat-down tired and DC is miserably hot and humid almost every day of the summer. Not good.
This year, I have a survival plan. (Please let it work!)
Since you might also be thinking, “For all that is good and holy, how is it already summer? What am I going to do with these kids?” I thought I’d share my yet-to-fail, brilliant 12-point-plan:
1. Camp. I’m home, so we can’t justify, financially or otherwise, having them in camp every day. I don’t want them to be there every day. But I do want to have a few weeks where they are fully entertained to the point of exhaustion and I know I’ll be on my own for a few hours each day.
2. Alternating camps. For one week each, my kids are taking turns being in half-day camps while the other one is home with me. Once you have two kids, it’s harder to find easy time with just one. Or so I’m telling myself. I reserve the right to find whatever camp still has openings for the second child if I need to unload them both (see #1).
3. Day trips. As soon as possible, I’m comparing calendars with other parents who are home this summer with non-camping kids. We’re going to come up with a handful of ambitious day-long plans. Local beaches, theme parks, gardens… anywhere more than an hour drive away but less than three that is kid-focused intensive fun.
4. Down days. The day trip plan is actually a two-day strategy, since we will all spend the next day napping in air conditioning, because they will be so satisfied with their every sense being overwhelmed the day before that they will crave quiet down time at home. Or they will whine and cry that they’re bored and ask to go back to said ambitious location all day long. Either way, a two-day plan.
5. Pool. Once we’ve dragged out a morning at home, them watching tv and me trying to write, and I feel good and guilty, I will take them to the pool. There are whole weeks where I expect this to be our schedule. Plan-ahead guilt is easier to waive away than unexpected guilt, I find. Right now, I see us going every afternoon. I give it a week (ok, two days) until I try to convince them that the backyard baby pool is just as good.
6. Backyard baby pool. It is totally just as good. If, and this is key, they have friends to splash with and you have a friend to drink inappropriately early with. Good fallback plan. Still working on the fallback fallback plan when I get tired of them running through the house with muddy feet and slipping and falling on the puddles they’ve left behind.
7. Vacation. Really looking forward to that one week where my husband is home and has to help. As some wise parent once said, “Vacationing with family is like a business trip—all the same work in a different location without any of the amenities of home.”
8. Grandparents (aka Actual Vacation). Now this one is pure luck, and it’s such a holy grail that I try not to think about it too much until they’re packed and on their way, but… The grandparents have offered to take them for a whole week. Here’s hoping they don’t change their minds!
9. Bad good weather. It’s too hot around here to think about spending too many days in a row outside, especially during those inevitable stretches of 100+ degree-days. So, starting tomorrow, I plan to draft a list of every local inside play option within a 10-mile radius. Bookstores count. Ikea counts. Movies totally count. But museums and actual kids play spaces will also do in a pinch.
10. Good bad weather. Rain is not the enemy. Rain in summer is your friend. And not in a “100 Rainy Day Activities for Pinterest Moms” kind of way. When it rains, it’s not so hot you get nauseous. The first instinct can be, “Oh crap, we’ve got to be inside all day or take to one of those awful indoor playspaces which will be more infested with fussy kids than usual.” Ignore that. Go outside! Umbrellas and rain boots if you must, bare feet and wet hair if you can. They will not see it coming and they will love it.
11. Reading. This is more of a “note to self.” Somehow, someway, I am going to figure out how to read this summer. My kids are old enough now that they can get bored and figure out what to do on their own once in a while and I am totally allowed to read. Oh, and also, I should probably read to the kids, too.
12. Umm… I’m sure I’ll think of something else once we’ve exhausted the above. Either that or we can start counting down the remaining days together—which is also a math lesson, so… bonus points!
And there you are. Before you know it, it’s all over again, everyone’s another grade higher, and it’s time to switch out clothes yet again. Good times!