Moving around as much as we do, I use social media to keep up with some of my favorite people I’ve met along this journey. I’ve ‘known’ Sheena since our Fort Drum days and I’ve enjoyed keeping in touch with her using the powers of the internet over the years. She writes over at Just Another Day in Paradise and I always appreciate her take on things. Keep reading to learn how she survives summer break with three kids at home.
When my oldest child was small, people truly used to tell me he was so well-behaved and charismatic that I should write a parenting book. I remember humbly saying “Well, we’ll see how the next one goes…” while (obviously) concocting a working title in my head. Then I had a girl (Insert an understanding “ohhhh” from all mothers of daughters out there) and believe it or not people stopped telling me that. When our girl was about 16 months old, I became pregnant with my third child because every woman wants to be pregnant five calendar years in a row, right? He is now two, and dearly beloved and so precious and spoiled – the way the baby of the family should be, but times were tough there for a while with a challenging toddler and a new baby, and then another challenging toddler, a new baby, and a pre-K’er. I am not ashamed to say that the sun has only recently come out from the behind the clouds of frustration and overwhelm for me.
Anyway, I told you all of that to tell you this:
I am a crazy person who smooshes her children in so close in age they practically share birthdays. I have exactly zero business passing out parenting advice because my older children LIVE to torment each other. But I do know a little something about life in the trenches of motherhood, and I have some tips that have kept me from absolutely losing my mother lovin’ marbles this summer (which starts in May here, by the way, so I’m an expert already) – my first summer after getting used to having two of three children out of the house for at least part of the day.
All The Popsicles –The rule at my house is that popsicles don’t get eaten inside. EVER. Can’t stand another minute of the fussing? Send them outside with an ice pop. They don’t care if it’s hot, they have popsicles! It’s raining? EVEN BETTER! Put on their rain slicker and galoshes first. Yeah, chemicals, sugar, blah, blah, blah. Sanity is the name of the game, here. You can get back to wholesome meals at dinnertime. Or in an hour when they want another snack. And on that note…
Snack Trays – My kids are eating all the things. Someone recently told me just cut up some veggies and throw them on a plate and leave it on the table. My mind was blown. Produce has never gone faster at my house than when it just sits around begging to be snacked on. They think they won the lottery if I put some olives on there too. Tell them the platter has to be consumed by the time popsicle hour rolls around and watch it all fly.
Just Get Yo’Selves Out – This morning after we were all up at 5:45 (thanks to a leaky diaper), fed by 6:30, and desperate by 9 as it was already 92* outside, I loaded the kids in the car and we drove 35 minutes to the gourmet donut shop the next town over. They chose glazed donuts which had been frosted and topped with those rainbow tropical marshmallows and chocolate sauce. It gave me a toothache to look at it. Luckily, they all chose juice for their drinks because it’s important to make healthy, balanced choices in life. Whatever, man. It killed an hour of the day, and the kids thought they were getting the treat of their lives. Then we went to Target and they acted like absolute bats out of hell from ALL THE SUGAR, but everyone at Target in the middle of a weekday is a mom or grandma so no one batted an eye. Suddenly it was lunch time and since we were now an hour from home we had to go out again. We tried a new street taco place, and I let my oldest get a burrito that he’s “always wanted to try” that was honest to God the size of his thigh. I was impressed that he managed to put down half, and it felt good to both of us for me just to say “Yes!” to his request, rather than telling him to get a kids meal. It was loud in there so no one noticed the awfulness while we waited, and if they did I’m sure they thought “Man, summer is hard on Moms, I bet she wishes she could have a margarita with her lunch.” And they’d have been correct. But we all survived! And every summer field trip proves to be easier than the last.
Say Yes to Netflix – Turn on a movie you loved as a kid (although I speak from experience when I say the odds of them liking it are slim). Or turn on whatever crap show they’ve been begging to watch. A minutes peace so you can, say, write a guest blog post is more than worth it. I’m all for carefully curated art projects and relevant documentaries, but just take a moment for yourself and let them watch the stupid show about stupid Lego Ninjas while the baby naps- they’ll be fine. Also, I feel compelled to share that my two oldest were watching a movie while I typed this out and they just turned it off and started playing together. So maybe marshmallow donuts are the answer here? I’m not saying I know all the answers, but hot damn if something didn’t fall in to place today!
Find a Bookstore – Set a budget and go in. Kids don’t see bookstores or libraries enough (but libraries = quiet and my crew just can’t manage that, and if you’re still reading by now, I’m guessing yours can’t either.) I don’t know anyone whose kids don’t go ape for new books. Sure, buying books in real life means they’re more expensive than on Amazon, but A) it’s hard to teach budgeting on Amazon, and B) instant gratification. And secret bonus C) SILENCE ON THE CAR RIDE HOME. Please imagine my emphasis here.
Take the Trip – My best friend lives near DC which is about 9 hours away from my home. Last year when she invited us to come up for a week that summer I was nervous, hesitant, excited and juuust desperate enough to do it though it meant a full day of driving without another adult to help. Staying with anyone for a week can be tough, so pick someone who is understanding and loves your kids, and whose children you also love. My friends kiddo and my own children have very different personalities and play styles, and sometimes get on each others nerves. But that’s part of life, right? Learning to interact with people different than yourself. And they’ve invited us back this summer despite having infant twins in their home now. And yes, we’re going. For the cost of a few tanks of gas, my kids get the memory of road tripping with a mom who wasn’t afraid to do things on her own, a glimpse at our nation’s capital, and hopefully, the travel bug. If you don’t have someone to visit, how about going to the zoo a few hours away instead of the one that’s local? Or even to the story/music time at a library that isn’t the one nearest to your house? Hey, if your kids are the craziest ones in the pack – you can just pick a different library next time!
Make a Mess – Go through the effort of doing something they like that makes a mess, even if you have to remind yourself that cleaning it up is a good way to kill a few more minutes before bedtime. We made cookies yesterday. I HATE baking, both because of the mess it makes and because I am just not very precise. So my baking is usually… “off.” But you know what kids like? Baking. And you know who doesn’t care if the cookies are too crumbly? Kids. The good news for us is that we live on a military installation and always have a new neighbor nearby to bless with our sorta funky baked goods. Because you know who else doesn’t care if your cookies are too crumbly? New neighbors who feel welcomed and wanted. Can we get #messesmeanmemories to start trending? Maybe that will help me when I see my children and everything on my entire first floor coated in flour…