FireflySummer

I Am Not A Summer Parent

I’ve seen many blog posts and Facebook pictures about the start of summer. Most of them are LAZY SUMMER DAY SITTING BY THE POOL OF AWESOME. A few admit HOLY CRAP IS THIS REALLY 12 WEEKS LONG but mostly whispered between the YAY SUMMER.

There’s a “good parent” pressure to embrace summer although the hundreds of posts on how to keep the kids occupied (like mine: 10 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer And PROBABLY Not Get Arrested, okay, not like mine) betray how hard it can be. Or the thousands of pins of arts and crafts to do mostly while the kids are busy since they are STUPID COMPLICATED. Well, probably, because I’m not actually on Pinterest since I can be pretend-crafty all by myself.

KeurigSpiralStaircase
It's a Keurig Spiral Staircase!

For years, I psyched myself up for summer parenting guru-ness by refusing to put my kids in camp for anything more than a week here and a day there. I was never dumb enough to bring them to the pool myself (seeing a toddler die in PICU after drowning in a pool with 20 adults around who all thought someone else was watching him will do that to someone), but I had sprinklers and chalk and crafts and play dates and parks and possibilities.

And I was miserable. Not because of my kids. I just hate summertime. It’s like I have seasonal affective disorder of summer caused by air-conditioning and heat and shorts and butt sweat. I had it before kids, but no one cared because I was either at camp or school or working or hiding from the sun until it was cool enough to go outside, which was still 2 hours earlier than teens and early 20-ers go out.

Once my children popped out, my hatred of summer seemed more like a problem than a quirk. I’m supposed to LOVE summertime. My kids are home. The weather is great. Water and sand and parks and vacations. Every day is Saturday! No lunches to make. No schedules to keep.

BUT I LOVE SCHEDULES. And my kids do, too. (My husband is the only one who thrives unscheduled, but he works full-time so he’s a moot point.)

For a long time, I forced myself to do summer like everyone else, and my family suffered. When every moment is up to me and the thermometer is at 90 degrees, I suck. And my suckage affected those who can’t drive away and have summer fun with normal people.

This year, I accepted my summer mehs and stopped trying to be Beach Barbie Mom. My kids only have 4-5 weeks of summer vacation scattered throughout the 3 months of death-by-heat. Otherwise, they’ll attend 1/2 day camp at their school. My son will be going the same amount of days he now goes to school, and my daughter will have to go 2 extra days. In fact, she’ll attend more school per week this summer than next school year.

At first, I cringed admitting this like it’s some sort of failure as the not-working-full-time parent. I catch myself throwing out excuses when forced by small talk to divulge our summer plans: Well, kids do better in year-round school. My kids won’t have to get used to another style of camp or teacher. My kids get to go to camp together.

While those are all true, if I could parent in the heat, if I didn’t hate how I acted while working at home when they are at home trying to get my attention, if I didn’t feel so guilty staying inside on “beautiful summer days,” I would do what every other stay-at-home, work-at-home, work-part-time parent is doing: I would celebrate summer by sitting around in backyard BBQs and on pool floats and let my kids stay up late and post mason jars full of fireflies.

FireflySummer
I might think summer is going to look like this but the photo is from SPRING when everything is better and the rest is photoshopped.

But I’m only a really good mom when we have a schedule and school and lunch and laundry and downtime and uptime and play time. Or when it’s not 90 degrees out.

Maybe I’ll answer the next person who asks about our summer places with: I get to be a great mom this summer. For the first time in years. Because I’m not trying to be someone else this summer. My family is grateful, and you are clearly weirded out so have fun at the pool!

Thanks goes to Leigh Ann’s summer post for getting me to write my post on summer that I’ve been putting off for weeks because I’m not supposed to admit this stuff.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

39 thoughts to “I Am Not A Summer Parent”

  1. Me, too! I see posts of “Hooray! Last day of school for my kids!” and I think either those people are in crazy denial, in which I’ll stay far away, or they are already drunk, in which maybe I’ll invite those parents over.

    For me, a summer “off” isn’t realistic anyway, since I still have to work. I’m lucky that my schedule is flexible, so I can fit in the occasional (scheduled), “spontaneous summer fun.” Which usually means a pedicure and facial. (What, you thought “spontaneous summer fun” was for the kids? That’s what I pay camp to do!)

    Keeping a schedule and routine allows us all to relax and enjoy summer. No homework, no school projects, no school concerts and meetings. And a few family vacations thrown in there that reminds us all that while we love each other very much, full time family experiences drive us all a little batty.

  2. ugh, thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling! I’m a teacher so summer should be a win/win for me, not students and I get to be with my toddler! But what I feel is gulp… no structure, all the planning is up to me and all I want to do is sleep in and watch TV. But if I do that then the mommy guilt of the TV sets in, so I’ll go outside, but then it’s HOT. So, A will probably go to a sitter a few days a week (for her socialization, right) and we’ll join a gym so I can take her to the childcare station and I can go to the pool, I mean… workout. Just glad I’m not the only mom that doesn’t feel like they measure up to the pictures in Parents Magazine or on Pintrest, nor will I try to.

  3. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with admitting you hate summer. There are a ton of moms who do it, and it’s kind of become a cliche, but it’s hard for moms like me who are not naturally fun. I thrive on schedules too, but I struggle to GET us on one. And here in Austin? It’s going to be over 100 degrees every day very soon, so going outside isn’t an option unless we’re in the water.

    Scary about the toddler in the pool. My husband took all 3 girls yesterday so I could work, and he admitted that it was HARD. So I may have to cross that option off my list for now. 🙁

    PS Thanks for the shout out. 🙂

  4. My younger so is very much like you. If it’s above 81 degrees and he has no certain schedule, the crankiness begins. Now, granted, he likes going to the pool or to the movies and other summertime fun– which we do on weekends. What does him a whole world of good, however, is summer school (which is the fun kind, not the remedial kind) and adventure camp. So, that’s where I send him!

  5. I love how you keep it real, Alex. Ain’t no shame in doing it how it works best for you! Also, heat = overrated. Although I would like to be at a pool instead of behind a computer in Sanger Hall.

  6. Beach Barbie Mom, ha!

    We are sisters, I can not parent in the heat either. I love raining summer days because there’s no pressure to go outside.

  7. AMEN!
    this is so me.
    now I have to go back and read the post about butt sweat. I hate that. I also hate wearing shorts. But sometimes it has to be done. I hate sweating like a pig and I have thyroid issues, so I am always sweating and everyone else is cold.

    Whatever. anything above 90 SUCKS. and humidity? ewwwww.

  8. I think more moms feel the way you do than you might think. I like summer, but as a teacher, I am also very attached to schedule, and find the lack of it somewhat disconcerting. No guilt, Mama, no guilt. Have a great summer!

  9. Even though I am the exact opposite (summer is my favorite and the hotter the better), I love your honesty! I banned Pinterest for the summer because of all the summer stuff to do with your kids going around. That is too much pressure. I know what works for my family and I am sticking to it. Butt sweat and Barbie Beach Mom made me laugh out loud!

  10. I’m glad I am not the only one who thinks pinterest is over rated. It feels like shopping to me, except you never take anything home. It’s also like creating a fantasy world that I will never belong to or live in. It’s perfect for idea or information hoarders because then at least all of those “clippings” aren’t cluttering up your actual house.

    I’m a stay at home mother of a two year old who doesn’t go to to preschool so it seems like everyday is summer and everyday is Saturday. It gets a little tiring at times. I feel guilty complaining about my endless Saturdays because most people seem to be living for the weekend. I’m glad to know there is a kindred spirit out there craving the structure that school, laundry, and summer camp bring. I guess it’s true that you can have too much of a good thing.

  11. I don’t know how I’m going to do summer. My four year old is extremely active, but my infant still takes two naps on schedule, I need to periodically get work done, AND we’ve moved to a place with no central air.
    I am living in great fear right now.

    1. My first summer with 2 kids was REALLY hard — my son is also very active and my daughter wouldn’t eat. But now it’s much easier because I have built in play dates. Hang on tight.

  12. (A) Butt sweat is so horrible. (B) We aren’t even going on a vacation until September. (C) Even those of us raised in RVA – with the 99.9% humidity and 103 degree temps – can’t deal. (D) I want to go to camp instead of work this summer. Can I do that?

  13. Good parenting is exactly this – finding what works for you. You’re the only one who can create a good summer for your family. Enjoy your summer!

    Personally, I hate schedules, but the heat is awful, and until my kids are better swimmers sitting by the pool is a no go and I hate crafts (art, I love, just do what’s in your head, don’t try to male what someone else thought of…) We’ll see how this summer shakes out.

    Yay summer. (seriously – yay AC)

  14. I just told my husband last night that this is the first summer I have ever looked forward to.

    But that’s only because my kids will be 13 and 15 and school was HARD this year for the first time.

    For a few months, we won’t have any homework or projects or reports to field. Plus at their age, the mom guilt is pretty much over for me. They are old enough to make their own plans and facilitate their own fun.

    They don’t often draw @ssholes on our driveway at this age, either.
    So I can go about being my usual self. Inside. Air-conditioned.

    And happy.

    (Not that you want your kids to be old. Because that kind of sucks in its own way. I just always try to find silver linings. And for me this year, it’s NO HOMEWORK.)

  15. You should move to Maine, we only have 4 weeks of summer. Also, it’s important to remember that good parenting isn’t about doing what everyone else is doing, it’s about doing what’s best for your family. You are doing that, and you are awesome.

  16. This is a great post– thanks for admitting it, as you say. 🙂 Summer is worse in Louisiana, by a mile, so I’m kind of optimistic about our first summer in VA but I still have tendencies toward what you’re talking about, for sure. Especially the hatred of how I act when I’m trying to get things done and my kids are trying to get my attention… that part sucks. I feel like I’m a better mom when I don’t try to cook dinner in the afternoons, because when I cook, I usually go elaborate, and then it’s too elaborate to allow me to be a decent mom at the same time. So yeah, I get it!

  17. I totally get this and I hope you do not think you are alone in this. That’s why there are so many camps!!!! :o) While I look forward to spending more days with Riley (it is a way to brainwash myself into thinking he’s still a tiny little boy that needs his mommy and isn’t growing up) I fall apart without a schedule. I use to do lesson plans for me and Riley before Lucy was born. People thought it was because I was such “a great parent” or teacher but it is because I fall to pieces without a schedule (hence why we thrived on Babywise, etc.). When he’s out of school I have to create lesson plans and things to teach my children or I go into sloth mode and will sit at the computer and we’ll stay in our pj’s while I read all day (and not to the children) and put the boob tube on. Here’s a site that I found that I printed out and cut up each suggestion to put in a jar. It’s our Summer Fun Ideas jar. I know you are not asking for stuff to do and I think you do a great job with your kids as they are so enjoyable to be around. Just in case you get stuck and need an idea…cuz I sure do!
    http://www.digitalreflections.typepad.com/digital_reflections/2009/06/100-free-things-to-do-with-your-kids-this-summer.html

    1. 1) That is so funny because I totally did think: Wow she’s such an amazing mom making lesson plans. Haha.
      2) I love: “we’ll stay in our pj’s while I read all day (and not to the children) and put the boob tube on” because exactly. Also, thank goodness that urge is not only me.
      3) Yay the Summer Fun Ideas jar — it makes it less stressful to know it’s not just up to my brain.

  18. I’m a terrible stay at home parent period. You add triple digit temperatures and humidity? I am a cranky mess.

    This is also why my kid will be going to daycare at least twice a week throughout the summer.

  19. I think it’s brilliant – to do whatever you need to do to make yourself a good (and sane) parent. We are all different! I’m actually the same way about Winter. If I don’t have a schedule I’ll go into hibernation mode and I can’t take care of a toddler if I’m sleeping.

  20. please tell me you really put that keurig tower on pinterest for real? i can only imagine the fun you could have with tagging and categorizing – should be the first in a series of real life crafts by alex.

    p.s. from your tower photo i learned that you can make hot chocolate on that thing??? i can’t wait for winter!! screw it, i need to make some now!

  21. Were shooting for a one week vacay this summer. It being longer than a weekend and shorter than two weeks, Tweener Rosie has dubbed it a “road trip”.

  22. although I’m about 3 years late in posting to this, I am so overjoyed that I found your blog as well as the comments from other like-minded summer- hating SAHM’s! I feel much better knowing I’m not alone. With 3 kids, no set schedule and no family less than an hour away to visit, plus a lack of good friends since we moved a couple of years ago, it’s been very, very hard for me to get through summers without falling apart!

  23. Summertime and kid boredom is hell. Its ok to admit you don’t like being home
    24/7 with kids. those who do say they “LOVE IT” I think are off their meds.

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