If you would have asked me any other summer before this one, what my warm weather mom thing was going to be, I would have said swimming lessons. I married a river rat and have therefore produced three heirs born into the kingdom of boating on the Mighty Mo. Even if we didn’t have regular weekend trips to my in-law’s cabin, I would still be a bit nuts about swimming lessons. And not just due to water safety, but because I think all kids need to experience the rite of passage that is group swimming lessons in the summertime.
Next to aquatic education, my past hot weather mom thing was probably summer camps. I loved going to camp as a kid, so I have been known to overbook my children when it comes to wilderness programs, organized outdoor sports, museum events, church functions, and craft classes. Last summer I had my girls in multiple nature camps, plus the summer reading program, t-ball, and two full sessions of swimming. The summer before I did most of what I just mentioned, but also art classes and a mini-camp.
It’s hard to break the cycle of over scheduling. Especially when I fondly think about how my brothers and I used to wake up early for two weeks every summer and walk to the neighborhood park to await the arrival of a school bus that was going to take us, and half of the neighborhood children, three towns over to the pool complex. We would spend the entire morning (thanks to the alphabetical placement of our last names) waiting for our group’s turn to get into the freezing water in order to show off our diving skills and swimming strokes. When we weren’t swimming, we were racing around the complex with friends and buying too much candy at the concession stand. By the end of the morning, every child on the bus was tired and ready for lunch. I would assume all of the moms in my small town rejoiced collectively in their quiet morning of freedom, therefore the noon meal was easily tackled before all of the kids were kicked outside to play ball and enjoy the heat.
I have spent a lot of springtime months researching swimming lessons and camps for my kids and there are so many options now, that each year I make myself a little (or a lot…if you ask my husband) crazy trying to decide what summer swim program is best or which nature camp coincides comfortably with our library’s hours.
However, not this year. I have decided to throw caution to the wind and quit over-analyzing the situation, my kids will just take lessons from the same swim place as last summer. Problem solved! (I mean obviously, this is not one of my “mom things“, I only just wrote 350+ words on the subject, instead of an entire blog post.) We will also do a bare minimum when it comes to organized, extra-curricular activities for the months of June and July.
This new found philosophy is what leads me to my new “Summer Mom Thing”, and that is to not over think or over schedule the summer, but to just really enjoy it. The prior summers of consistent activity for my kids were nice, but did not leave a lot of extra time to just have some plain old fun.
My newly minted 8-year-old helped me develop my current mom attitude for summer. She has been thinking about her June and July free time since Christmas, and was genuinely worried she would not have enough moments to lay in our tree house and read; which is the number one thing she wants to do in the summer. She also wants to swim for fun, visit her friends, go to the park, and roller-blade. I took the time this year to actually hear what she was saying. The past two summers I have been too organized and often planned so much structured stuff that there was no time for simple warm-weather pleasantries.
School is out for the kiddos for a reason. It is a time to stay up later, sleep in a little (and in kid terms sleeping in means 7:00 am or on a really good day 7:23 am at my house) and enjoy our family. I did not even look at the options from the local art center, and I only briefly considered some organized museum camps for this summer. Don’t worry, I have not completely switched personalities. I did sign my daughters up for a nature program and all three of my kids are going to do one session of swimming lessons. June evenings are still filled with softball and t-ball, but we no longer have every morning full which means we can make more evening ice cream runs after playing a ball game.
I am trying to keep it chill and open, so that if a good opportunity comes up we can grab it this summer. Sure my daughter may do vacation bible school in June, but she might not? Maybe my 8-year-old will go to every session of summer reading at the library and maybe she won’t? Also just because she goes, it does not mean my 5-year-old and 2-year-old are also obligated. I want to take my daughters on a girls trip, just the three of us. Unlike in the past, now when I think about July I am not immediately inundated with a ton of conflicts. I also want my son to go fishing more, and for all my kids to hang out with their cousins and friends in distant towns, which means I need to remember to keep things flexible.
We just wrapped up a way too hectic May that was filled with make-up snow days, dance rehearsals plus a recital, preschool graduation, and end of the year field trips. I made more cold lunches in the third week of May, than I have ever made in my entire life! So I am ready for summer vacation.
I am ready to hang out with my kids and really listen to what they want to do because they are at great ages. All of them are out of diapers! We can go on a road trip that does not have to end if we forget the pacifier. We won’t have to turn the car around for a tantrum meltdown because all my kids can watch the same cartoon, or color, or look at a book. (I know this may be wishful thinking on my part, but fingers and toes crossed!) My husband and I will hopefully be able to have long conversations in the vehicle, while my three kids stay busy with each other in the backseats. It won’t always be sunshine and roses, but we are much closer this year to civilized, lengthy, car rides than we have ever been in the past years with a rear-facing infant.
My kiddos are also still young enough to really like me. If you ask them, I would be able to feel optimistic in saying they want to hang out with mom and dad more than anyone else on the planet. Those days aren’t always going to be here. Friends are going to get much cooler than my husband and me, and will probably be more fun to hang with. This realization makes me sad, but it also motivates me even more to have a fun summer that does not involve constant carpooling across town for an event in which I don’t even get to watch or participate.
While I enjoyed going away to the lake for camps as a kid, my favorite childhood memories are playing “Annie Annie Over” at my grandparent’s house, climbing the feed stacks at my uncle’s store, playing bounce volleyball on our cement slab, and reading books in the backseat of my folk’s Oldsmobile (with my brothers fighting on either side of me) while en route to an amusement park located hours away from our home.
So I am embracing my new “Summer Mom Thing” to schedule less and be more relaxed. Let the memory making begin! Watching my kids chase bubbles in the backyard is a way better use of my time, than waiting in countless parking lots for them to be dismissed from a class or camp.
I am going to need these summer memories, more than my kids, because before long they will be grown up and unwilling to run through backyard sprinklers and splash me with water balloons.
Do you have a “Summer Mom Thing”? We want to hear about it! So please leave a comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out our first “What Is Your Mom Thing Post?” from earlier in the year.