Preparing for Summer
I used to hate summer. You heard me. H.A.T.E. While most educators count down the days until the end of the school year, my dread grows the closer the end of June comes. No, no…I have no aversion to heat, (at least not the kind of heat we get here in upstate NY. Now Florida’s heat…blech!). No, no it isn’t that it is because it is skimpy clothes and bathing suit season. Although, never being svelte and swarthy has always made me keep a cover up on at the beach, and really I have never been one for shorts. However my intense dislike for summer really never was about any of that. It was all about the fact that for two and a half months, I’d be in charge of entertaining my children (All right…instead of judging, could I at least get props that I admit fully to feeling that way?)…
Trust me on this one, I come by it naturally. When I was a kid, we weren’t allowed inside during spring and summer days. For as long as I can remember, we’d wake up, perhaps have a bit of breakfast and then be told to go outside until lunch time. At lunch, we’d be allowed back in and in the days where I was too old to nap, we’d all be shuttled back out the back door until my father came home from work. Many times the door was locked behind us. I remember one day needing to go to the bathroom so bad. I stood at the back door pounding away, trying to get someone to hear and open the door. The urge got greater and greater and I got louder and louder. My door pounding got harder and harder until, CRASH; my hand went through the door’s glass window. I cut my hand, but at least it got that door open!
My father worked as a lifeguard at a local beach and sometimes we were allowed to go with him. But even then, dad couldn’t play with us (and really wasn’t into it even if he could) and if by chance mom came with us, we were still shooed away to play with our siblings and friends we met on the beach. Yes, yes you could safely say that parent play was not a huge part of my childhood.
Therefore it was completely foreign even painful for me to even attempt it with my own boys. Summer magnified this feeling by 1000, and I hated it. I hated the fact that I had to try to entertain the boys about as much as I hated the fact that I knew in the very fiber of me how absolutely inept I was at this foreign thing called play which seemed to go on and on all summer long.
Last year, feeling the dread sink in around the month of May, knowing full well that I would be solely responsible for entertaining my two year old daughter; I began to wish once again that school would last all year or that I had a career like other women who had to work year round. However, Hindsight has taught me a few things about those summers with my boys and so instead of succumbing to the doom and gloom, I decided to hatch a plan that would be good for both my daughter, Ila, and me.
It started out small, leaning on the Hindsight lesson that if a parent can’t provide something for their child then they should find someone who could. And so I hired a sweet girl named Lauren who was a natural player at heart. She came once or twice a week for two hours in the morning to play with Ila, take her outside or even to the playground. My daughter looked forward to these “play dates” immensely. Now if I could have afforded it, I would have hired a mommy’s helper for the whole morning every morning. But that just wasn’t in the budget.
Once again, leaning on another Hindsight lesson; this time the one that states “A parent acts as a problem solver” I began to devise other ways to keep my daughter occupied in a way that would ensure that I would not feel overwhelmed about always having to entertain her. Last summer my list was small things like beach trips (I love the water), bike rides (allowed me to exercise) and a rearrangement of toys (the proximity made them interesting once again), but as the year went on (and through the help of Pinterest) I have devised two summer bucket lists to do with my three year old. One consists of things that will occupy Ila so that I can find time for the house and me. The other is a list of things we can do together that actually don’t feel like chores. The making of the lists alone have been super fun to do and I highly encourage all of you to try to create your own. But, feel free to use mine if you don’t have the time (or check out Hilltown Families Summer Bucket List for Western MA ideas). As always if you have ideas to add, I would LOVE to hear them!
A Summer Bucket List to Occupy Ila
- Make an under the table hammock for a cozy reading spot.
- Make a tin foil river to sail things down.
- Make an outdoor chalkboard using plywood and chalk paint. Hang on stockade fence.
- Make shaving cream paint for the bathtub.
- Make a water table.
- Use painters tape and set up a series of roads throughout the house for her cars and princess carriage to travel on.
- Summer bowling with soda bottles of all sizes and a wiffle ball.
- Stacking plastic cups.
- Microwave a bar of Ivory soap.
- Stacking sponges of all sizes.
- Hammering tees in flower arrangement foam and balance marbles on top.
- Make a backyard band with tin cans for Ila to play.
A Summer Bucket List for Us to do Together
- Mani/Pedis-do it yourself or professional!
- Go to the beach. Dig a hole and make a pool for Ila’s princesses to swim in.
- Visit Lisa’s farm. (Or any local farm!)
- Visit a local farmer’s market. Eat fruit. Listen to music. Meet new people.
- Map out all the local playgrounds. Take a bike ride and a picnic to each before the end of the season.
- Take a trip to Sesame Place in Langhorne PA.
- Get gussied up and eat a fancy dinner together (in a child friendly hotel.)
- Ride the trolley to the local lake and shop the shops, ride the rides and play in the arcade like we are tourists.
- Go to the library every week on a library scavenger hunt (gather books on the same theme and read them in the comfy chairs.)
- Make and play with rainbow rice table.
- Read to and finish her first chapter book.
- Bake and create. Caterpillar grape kabobs, homemade pizzas, banana splits,
- Go strawberry picking. Eat strawberries and cream for dessert.
- Teach her to roller skate (Ila added this one!)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.