Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Vacation: a list of pros and cons.

Last year at this time, we had big plans for a rockin' summer. And if I remember correctly, we had a lot of fun (obviously! I haven't posted in over a year! Yukyukyuk). The boys even created a Summer To-Do List which I wrote on our kitchen chalkboard wall:

They came up with this list on their own, but I of course did have to gently veto a few unrealistic things such as "go to Hawaii!" and "go to Disneyland!!" By the end of summer we managed to accomplish nearly all of these things. Success! ["Move boys' rooms around" is one thing we did not manage to do. But it will be happening VERY soon and I will post all progress here.]
Now, however, as the last day of school is two weeks away, I find myself in a different frame of mind. I'm not focused so much on what we'll actually be doing this summer. Instead I find myself thinking of what summer vacation truly entails.
  • sleeping in. Oh my word. Mornings are a giant struggle around here. Not needing to get up and go anywhere is pretty much my favorite.
  • staying up late. We are a family of night owls who love nothing more than hunkering down with about 5 bags of Kirkland microwave popcorn (its the best, and we've tried a LOT of kinds!) and a long movie.
  • playing outside! We live in a safe neighborhood full of kids. If its not raining, my boys are outside biking, scootering, slip-and-sliding, hide-and-seeking, and my personal favorite: running around with sticks and plastic swords and waterguns shoved down the backs of their shirts (they call this activity War Of The Worlds although they've never seen the movie - ???) trampling the grass & flowerbeds weeds with all their neighborhood buddies.
  • summer fun! We always have at least one camping trip to look forward to, and our annual convention is always a huge highlight as well (and this year is an extra special one; the boys are part of the entertainment for foreign delegates which is going to be RAD, I'll share that here later when its all over with).
  • lots of lazy days spent with family. My boys love to play with their cousins and its great fun to spend entire days together as often as possible.
  • we have energetic friends who plan lots of 'outings'. Days at the zoo, beach, or park .. BBQs .. outdoor movies, etc. There are definite perks to having extroverted friends who plan stuff. The kids have fun and its no work for me (other than the struggle to get out the door with needed snacks, gear, etc. See Cons list below).
  • easy dinners. I greatly dislike meal planning and making dinner. But summertime is so easy. Marinate some meat, throw together a big salad, boil some corn on the cob and we're set. Poodie grills for us when he gets home, we eat on the deck, and everyone is happy.
  • my boys always reconnect in summertime. They get along fairly well most of the time, but they seem to enjoy each other even more during summer, and its fun to watch how their play changes each year as they get older.
  • keeping kids entertained. Honestly, I love blank days on the calendar more than days with something filled in, but when kids are involved, relaxation quickly turns into boredom. Kid: "What are we going to do today?" Me: "Nothing. We were gone all day yesterday and the day before that. I really need to clean, do laundry, and grocery shop." Kid: "That's boring. I don't want to do that." Me: "well, neither do I, but that's life. We are doing something fun tomorrow." Kid: "That's too far away!!" It gets old by Second Breakfast-time.
  • living in Washington, sometimes we don't get real summer weather until July or later. When it rains, this presents a real problem. My boys either want to play video games (see below) or have a few neighborhood friends over to play. As much as I'd like to be, I am not that mom who finds delight in a houseful of little boys screaming and making messes and asking for snacks. I love my boys' friends but I don't love noise and chaos. Dilemma.
  • the endless struggle of video games. Why do boys love them so much?! Why do they prefer gaming over anything else? I absolutely loathe it. This summer I vow to be That Mom who sets the timer and enforces it. And use games as a reward for when chores are done, etc. Not just a way to satisfy a bored kid.*
  • feeding the entire neighborhood. I realize other moms are feeding my kids too. So I'm not annoyed at the parents. But the supply of juice boxes, fruit snacks, Popsicles, and Goldfish dwindles pretty quickly when you've got eight or more kids playing in your yard every single day, getting thirsty and working up appetites. And its aggravating to go outside and see your porch & lawn is littered with empty juice boxes, shredded fruit snack bags, and Popsicle sticks. This summer I vow to be That Mom who makes kids pick up after themselves before they go home.*
  • the hassle of getting ready to go somewhere. As mentioned above in the Pros list, we do a lot of stuff. Stuff that requires much gear and snacks. The trunk and backseat become dirty and disorganized really quickly. Nobody wants to pack or carry their own stuff; that's what Mommy is for. "Why did you bring THOSE granola bars? I hate those."  "Why didn't you bring more food? I'm STARVING!"  "I don't want to carry that! That's HIS!"  "Yes I do NEED to bring all those dump trucks. They're my favorites and I like to play with them ALL at the beach."  You get the picture. I figure, other kids at the beach are OK with snatching and playing with my boys' stuff, why can't my boys do the same? Then we'd never have to bring toys. They'd have fun while there, with new and exciting toys, and have nothing to carry home, and all I'd need to carry would be towels, the cooler, sunscreen, a blanket, camera, an umbrella, changes of clothes, many water bottles, and my chair. Ahem. This summer my boys are old enough to pack their own backpacks with their towel, preferred nonperishable snacks, change of clothes, water bottle, and toys.*
  • laziness overtakes us. When we are able to sleep in ...... we sleep in. By the time we finally are up, dressed, have eaten something halfway substantial, and begin fully functioning, its time to start thinking about what's for dinner. Its a giant waste of time. This summer I vow we will get "up and at 'em" much earlier.*
I never want to be that mom who dreads summer and jumps for joy when school starts in the fall. I could see myself easily becoming that way, so this summer I will do my best to enjoy every bit and appreciate the fact that I get to be a chauffeur packmule stay-at-home-mom and hang out with my funny, cute, awesome boys every single day.
* Disclaimer: these are what I call High Hopes and if any of these things actually happen, I will be stunned.

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