There are moments when I find it especially hard to be a working parent.
Those 3:00 a.m. feedings, especially when I knew I had an early meeting, stand out in my mind.
Those days you are traveling for work and get stuck in the airport. All you want to do is get home to your kids, despite the gift that is FaceTime. That is heartbreakingly hard.
For me, summer break is also one of those times. The weather is now downright beautiful here in Maine and the kids are finally out of school. This is one of those times I want to be hitting the beach and going to the summer festivals. I want to be playing with them in the sprinklers and going to the park. I want to do all the things. All the summer things.
Like so many families, we can’t do all the summer things. Our days are still filled with rushing off in the morning, the demands of getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour and bedtime routines, even if it is still light outside. Those precious weekends are still filled with the monotony of getting ready for the upcoming week, with mountains of laundry, errands and food shopping.
We do manage to squeeze a fair amount of fun summer activities into weekends, preferably outside. While we may not be enjoying 11 full weeks of the easy, relaxed, fun of “summer break” for some families, we look for those little corners of time to celebrate summer:
- Plan at least one fun thing each weekend, such as stopping off at a park, even if it is on the way to do the food shopping. This is actually the goal all year round, if we can manage it.
- Set-up a tent and let your kids “go camping” right at home. They will have the added bonus of having the kitchen and bathrooms not too far away. My kids are still little enough that they would not sleep in the tent, but it is still a fun activity. You can even do laundry at the same time.
- Surprise your children with ice cream for dinner after camp/daycare pickup. Admittedly this does not happen often in my house but when it does, it is a great surprise. The kids love this!
- Picnic in the yard for dinner. No need to cook. Sandwiches count as dinner when you are on a picnic blanket.
- If your town allows it, have fire pit and roast marshmallows! Experiment with different s’mores combinations.
- Once it starts to get dark a little earlier, in August, go out and catch fireflies in the yard. I remember doing this as a child and the first time I caught fireflies with my own children I realized that it was one of my fondest childhood memories.
There are countless other ways to take in all that summer has to offer. We live in an amazing place where it is easy to pick fresh strawberries, squeeze in a short hike, stop by a free concert or go kayaking for even just an hour. Thankfully, if you are not able do all the summer things with your kids, you still can enjoy some of the summer things. It will be memorable, just the same. Get creative and take a (little) break, this summer break.