Summer Gets Real

Let’s talk summer. It’s my very favorite season… until about June 27 when my enthusiasm for being Super Summer Mom flags, my to-do list remains undone, and the thermometer hovers in the high nineties by mid-morning snack time.

Summer quickly becomes my second-favorite season behind any season during which I have five minutes of quiet, thinking time to myself while not sweating.

This is what I want summer to look like (a rough outline, since our educational activities will vary by day, of course):

8:00 – A healthy, no sugar breakfast, and pleasant conversation about our day. Breakfast is followed by a short educational enrichment task, just to keep our skills sharp and prepare for the upcoming year
9:00-Noon – Swim team, park time with optional nature observation, and a healthy, veggie-and-fruit-packed lunch (We spend hours at swim team due to practice schedules. It’s sort of crazy and I sort of love it.)
12:30 – Clean up from swim team, regroup, plan our afternoon activities
1:30 – Chores done happily and without incessant questioning or whining
2:00 – Fun time! Options include, but are not limited to, museums, community service, movies, swimming
5:00 – Quiet reading time, followed by electronics time
6:00 – Dinner, homemade and full of fresh, healthy ingredients, obviously
7:00 – Family fun time! Options include an evening walk or trip to the pool, or maybe a play date with friends.
9:00 – Bedtime, accomplished in an orderly manner with no reminders to brush teeth

Not on the above list:

  • My writing and exercise time from 5-8 a.m., a total snap for me since I am, by nature, a morning person.*
  • My project time when I will work on the ongoing, never-flipping-ending photo organization and home improvement projects. I anticipate doing this from 5-6 p.m., and then again after my angelic children are in bed, from approximately 9-11 p.m. This will be a snap for me, as well, since I’m a fully functional being at night, and I’m never so tired that stare into space for hours at a time.**

This is what summer will look like:

7:00 – “Mom, Mom! Are you awake? Can we play electronics yet?”
7:30 – “Mom, Mom! Wake up! We’re playing electronics and we’re hungry!”
9:00 – Finish your sugary cereal and grab your swim stuff! We’ll be late if we don’t leave NOW! [Mom sits on a lounge chair at the pool, talks with other parents, and sends non-swimming children to the park where she can see them, but not hear them. Feeds children lunch cobbled together at the last minute – crackers, cheese sticks, maybe an apple or some strawberries? Still loves swim team time.]
12:30 – Drop all swim-related stuff in the laundry room to deal with later, and flop down in the air conditioning.
1:30 – “Mom! Mom! Can we play electronics?” Threaten children with no more electronics, ever, ever, in their whole lives, if they don’t do their chores RIGHT NOW.
2:00 – Chores still not done. Fun time delayed indefinitely.
3:30 – Get out the door to go somewhere, like the library or the movies. Anywhere with air conditioning or a large body of water will do.
5:00 – Flop down in the air conditioning, because just going from car to house is toasty.
5:15 – Remind children to do their chores and Oh, crap, do your summer educational enrichment, too, so you don’t forget how to add numbers and stuff!
5:21 – “Mom! Mom! We did all that stuff you force us to do. Can we play electronics?”
6:30 – Unsure of where the last hour went, throw dinner on the table. It will include some vegetables and whatnot, but it’s barely passable as a meal.
6:48 – Send children outside – or anywhere – with Dad. Watch DVR’d trash TV.
9:00 – Bedtime. It’s chaos. People lie about brushing their teeth. People haven’t bathed in days, but, eh, they swam.

That about sums it up.

Reality falls somewhere between these two scenarios. After the initial adjustment period, during which we’re all shocked to have so much unstructured time together, we usually fall into a workable rhythm. Some days are a lost cause, but most days we manage fun time and productive time. Most days we eat well, but some days it’s fend-for-yourself. Most days we even do our chores and educational enrichment, but some days we play Minecraft and pretend we can’t see the dust.

Even though we inevitably achieve manageable chaos every summer, I never accomplish everything. The summer flies by, leaving me with more unsorted piles of photos. I’m up to 2005, pre-kids, in case you’re wondering. August always sneaks up on me, like a child who should be in bed but is suddenly standing next to you asking why the man on TV is all bloody and dead looking (uh, because he got out of bed when he wasn’t supposed to, kid).

About the time I get all the beach sand out of my car and my shoes and the refrigerator (I don’t even know), the kids are back in school, and you know what? All of that quiet, peaceful, me-time is just as hard to get used to as summer is. Thinking about them going back to school makes me miss them already. (That’s motherhood, right there.)

So I think I’ll just roll with it this year. I’ll set goals and attempt a schedule, but overall I want to enjoy what I can, and ignore what I can’t. Oh, and I’d like to sweat as little as possible. Is that too much to ask?

*Yeah, I’m not a morning person. But I want to be, so I’m really making an effort this summer. I’ll report back in a couple months.

**Yeah, I’m not a night person, either. I can do fun stuff, like drink wine with friends and binge watch TV, but I can’t do anything productive. I’d like to change this, as well. Stay tuned for reports.