The Long Days of Summer
Updated: Aug 9, 2019
According to the unofficial count, we have 71 days left of summer vacation. My kids are keeping track. And each time we must go do something - like grocery shop or buy underwear - they take it as a personal assault on their waning and numbered days of summer. Protests abound! Why do we have to go? Why are you making our day like this? Most importantly, why are you wasting our time? No amount of explaining that an entire day need not be ruined by a single errand soothes the savage beasts. Summer is supposed to be unscheduled, totally unplanned and carefree. Who cares if we get anything done at all? Summer days are meant for nothing. No schedule, no demands. No mandatory wake-up times. And for goodness sake - no errands!!
I tend to disagree. Summer begins and I kick it into high gear. Though the kids might be at home if there are no camps set-up, I need not help them with homework or shuttle them to activities, leaving me with time to motor through tasks around the house. While they settle in to play together, I dig in their drawers, clean out their school papers, clean off their desks, and more. I start my boxes for donations and get them involved with posting things for sale on eBay. I dig out the recipes I have been dying to try but never had time. I clean out the freezer. I fold. I LOVE the approach of unscheduled days that allow me to schedule things. Summer is for catching up, not kicking back! What a waste to spend days without doing anything productive! And I do believe in pretty fair amounts of down time plus a camp or two of their choice to keep the days interesting. Days they go to camp are brilliant - they are out of the house and happy, leaving me to run errands and do my thing for as long as I have available.
After a week together, we have battled a bit to find a happy medium. I am compelled to check something off my list while my little ones are tugging on my sleeves. And who can resist that tugging? Not I. My daughter and I finished a challenging puzzle together. I am teaching my son and his friend how to tap dance in our kitchen. (I am investing heavily in Advil, too.) We watch an episode or two of The Amazing Race together. I'm folding laundry but I'm still watching! We have done crosswords and created a stuffy shopping district in the living room. We have started fresh books and played board games. We have already colored our pencils down to nubs because of our enthusiasm to fill the coloring books. And I have stayed up late doing the things I really felt I needed to do, scrambling around in the wee hours, dedicated to my damn list. And I wake up exhausted but ready to start again. It doesn't really feel like a vacation at all. Let me put on my surprised face.
If I stop for a moment and look at summer through my children’s eyes, I am starting to concede that they might be right. Summer is for relaxing a bit more. Letting go. Giving in to the longer days by spending them lounging, playing and laughing. I mean we already know that we will never, ever catch-up. There is always a task around the next corner. But summer memories are not made of folding laundry. They are made of those giggles together with our faces buried in the Snoopy comic book. They are made of our trips to the playground that I initially groan about because it takes me away from any number of other tasks. They are made by following their lead and letting them create a summer of their liking.
Maybe I would have a better summer if I remembered this more often. We will still grocery shop. Some things must continue. But I'm going to try harder to let go a bit more. I'm going to play a bit more. I'm definitely going to sleep a bit more. And I'm going to let my kids be the guide for creating a memorable and lovely summer we can all enjoy. Let the games begin!