I was that mom. When Brayden first went to school I stood at the bus stop and bawled my eyes out for a good half an hour before my husband pulled me inside. Then I sat by the window and continued to sob, clutching my phone in case someone called with some kind of emergency. What if Brayden got lost in the big school? What if he was afraid? What if he wasn't making any friends? What if...? Before I knew it, in the midst of my massive panic attack, the school bus came to bring him home (I was outside and waiting 45 minutes before the bus came) and he bounded happily down the steps, onto our driveway, and into my arms, telling me "Mom! School was awesome!" That wasn't what I wanted to hear. I hoped he secretly hated it, which could lead me to homeschooling and keeping my little boy home with me. I started to sob again. This same pattern continued for about two weeks.
Now its summer .... and I'd do just about anything to ship his little behind right back to that school so that I can get those few hours of peace back again!
After becoming totally acclimated to having only one child at home in the mornings I've got to admit that I'm a bit lost and things here are a bit zany and filled with that insatiable thirst for life that summer seems to bring out in children. So we are facing it head on! Here are my top 10 must-haves to survive the season, in no particular order:
1. A Kiddie Pool. The boys love to be outside when the weather is nice, but once they get out there and start to run around through the yard they realize just how stinking hot it is outside. In a massive effort to keep them from going in and out and in and out of the house, bringing flys and dirt and the little tornados that little boys bring, inside with them each and every time, I bought a little swimming pool for them to keep cool with outside. Its filled with about 4 inches of water and a ton of random toys. They love it, and I love that I get to sit beside it in a super comfy chair with my feet submerged in the cool water rather than running through the yard after them.
2. “Emergency” Supplies. I have a secret closet that is filled with art supplies, coloring books, Dollar Store toys, sidewalk chalk, play-doh, bubbles, etc. It’s a savior for rainy days, or if I just feel like being a hero for three seconds.
3. A Plan. Whether it’s the zoo, the playground, play dates with friends or a road trip somewhere, it’s a saving grace for us to have a plan for the day. Otherwise the age old sing-songy, and oh so annoying, question of “what can we do now?” slowly kills me. I prefer “when can we leave?” and the excitement that having a plan seems to bring.
4. A Library Card. I’m not the biggest fan of the library, the stress of keeping books in perfect condition and returning them on time is just way too much for me. But, come summer, I need all of the free air conditioned places I can get. And I’m grateful to have story-time hosted by someone other than me.
5. Ice Cream and Popsicles. For beating the heat and bribery purposes.
6. An Amusement Park or Carnival Trip. The kids love it for obvious reasons. Moms love it because, even if we don't always admit it, its nice to indulge in all of that greasy carnival style food every once in awhile.
7. Alcohol. Lots of it! If you need a time for a margarita refer to the sitting by the kiddie pool part in #1.
8. A Helper. Find yourself a 12 or 13 year old kid, sibling, family member, or whatever. Not only can you can pay them well below minimum wage (and often times with cookies!), they’re eager, respectful and generally good with kids. Plus your kids, who are probably sick of seeing your face all day long, will like the excitement of someone new to play with for a few hours. We use my 13 year old brother Mathew, whom the boys just love to pieces.
9. Watermelon. Kids love it. Its healthy. Its a summer time only treat. And they'll have a blast eating it outside and spitting the seeds into the grass while mom has a blast not having to clean up the mess that eating a seed filled watermelon inside would have caused.
10. A Vacation. We're taking a mini extended weekend trip this summer thanks to my new job, and not have earning enough vacation time yet to do anything longer. But really a mini trip and a change of scenery is all kids and adults really need to get excited and relaxed. We'll be in Lancaster and Stroudsburg soon checking out the Amish culture and all of the amazing trains there (aka riding the real Thomas the Tank Engine! Shhh! Don't tell the boys!!). We're staying in a cool hotel that's really not a hotel at all but rather a bunch of old train cabooses redone into hotel rooms. Best part of all, no super long cross country drives or plane rides for us! Lancaster is only about 3 hours away. Find getaways near you that you and your kids haven't yet explored but can get excited about.
If all else fails ... ship 'em to Grandmas for the afternoon! (and then refer back to #7!)