Reality Check: A New Summer Goal
It’s time for a summer reality check at my house. I was so excited for summer. I even had a plan. True, it was a plan to fight summer learning loss but we’re only halfway through the summer and that plan is barely being implemented. It’s time for a new summer goal.
I think that I either a) have amnesia or b) my expectations were too high. I love my children. I love being with them, but this summer has been stressful, to say the least. The fighting seems endless, the whining continuous, and the defiance is at an all-time high.
What is going on?
Maybe it’s because this is my first summer working from home or maybe it’s because this is the first normal summer we’ve had in a couple of years, but it’s chaos over here. Sparks are flying and they aren’t the fun kind that we have on the 4th of July. So where does that leave a mom that’s desperate for some quiet work time while still having happy children?
I need to turn around our summer before it turns into an endurance event.
Sometimes our summer expectations need a reality check. Every day can’t be awesome. A special outing once a week is plenty for me right now. By special, I mean a trip to the park. We may even catch a $1 movie at the local theater but a big outing, like the zoo or a day hike, every week feels completely overwhelming.
A better goal for the summer – notice small meaningful moments.
I’m not looking for long days at the beach anymore, although, hopefully, we’ll have at least one or two of those before the summer’s end. Instead, I’ll enjoy watching the kids spray each other with the hose. I’ll laugh along with them as we watch the dog pick huckleberries from the bush. Evening bike rides are taking the place of day long hikes.
I’ve given myself permission to appreciate simple fun instead of big fun.
This one is tough for me.
It’s easy to miss the small moments if we’re plugged into the phone or in my case, working. As parents, there is always something that needs to be done. Whether that’s laundry, cooking, cleaning, mowing, trimming, or any number of other household tasks, it’s possible to be busy all the time.
Put it down. Walk away for a while. When you’re with your kids, be there physically and mentally. I tend to be with them physically but mentally I’m thinking about what I need to do next. The next work order, making dinner, running to the bank, and on and on and on. Those things will always be there but my little ones won’t.
My summers with little kids aren’t going to last forever. I realize that because my oldest has turned twelve and summers are different now that she’s older. Her interests have matured. The park is seldom fun for her anymore; she’d rather chat with her friends. She’s growing up.
Yesterday, I took a fifteen-minute break from work, sat on the couch with my kids and read them “Calvin and Hobbes”. Besides the fact that it is one of my favorite comic strips of all time, we laughed together, like full on belly laughs. We laughed at Calvin’s antics and funny facial expressions as Rosalyn hunted him down yet again.
The Calvin and Hobbes moments are what I want more of this summer. If we are going to have them, I have to be present. While our laughing together is not epic, it is special and builds the memories that, I hope, will make their childhood into something they’ll want to talk about with their kids someday.
Let It Go
Having a clean house, kids and car are relative. (Clean dishes is not, so maybe don’t let that one go.)
In order to enjoy the long sunny days, you have to let a few things go. Long days outside mean that toys aren’t picked up every night, which is a big thing at my house. Baths happen less often than they should. Bedtime becomes a moving target.
When we look back at this time in our lives, we aren’t going to be worried about what our house looked like. We will remember how we felt. Were we happy? Did spend time with our children? Did we enjoy what we had?
I want the answer to be, yes.
It’s okay that the Legos are still out, toy animals are wet, and library books are scattered throughout the house because they are all signs that we are making the most of the summer.
Choose Where You Focus – A New Summer Goal
It’s easy to idealize the summer and its accompanying expectations. From this point to the end of summer, I choose to focus on the Calvin and Hobbes moments.
While you, like me, may be driven crazy by the crying, whining, and fighting, we have to choose to see the good over the bad. The early morning giggles around bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, picking berries along the side of the road and building a castle of blocks only to have Godzilla/4-year-old knock it down.
Choose to see the fun over the work, good over bad, light over dark.
That’s my goal this week and for the rest of the summer – notice the small moments that I can’t get back as my children grown older. I can’t always appreciate the summer chaos. I can appreciate the reason for the chaos, we are all here together. Life is happening and I don’t want to miss it.
A post inspired by the word sparks for a writing prompt from Mama Kats Writer’s Workshop.