Our writer takes an honest look at the expectations placed on parents in the summer
I know I can’t be the only one feeling this. The only exception is that I am choosing to say it out loud.
I can’t wait for my kids to go back to school.
As much as I somewhat enjoy the warm weather, I am ready to be done with all the guilt, expectations and cost.
Also, the thigh chafing. Damn skirts.
It’s never enough
As soon as school is done, it becomes a constant reaching for more. We need to plan the perfect weekend, the perfect bbq and the perfect family vacation. Just making it through the week to collapse on the couch come Saturday is no longer a viable option.
Now you are required to spend your ‘time-off’ making memories by carting overtired children around amusement parks, crowded beaches and to camping sites.
These outings often seemed to be a better idea in my air-conditioned home. The reality is much more tiring and results in many more bug bites.
We are tired, we are hot and we are reaching for the unreachable.
The endless summer
The expectations of summer are sky-high and yet my parenting skills are not magically elevated because it’s hotter outside. In fact, my ability to now remember to add sunscreen to my list of must-haves for my kids day-to-day is touch and go. I spent my childhood summers hatless and drenched in sunscreen-free freckles, but I have spent a small fortune slathering my children.
Seriously, I have three kids that I use sunscreen on fairly regularly and I have bought at least 10 bottles of the spray on stuff before succumbing to stealing a bottle of the thick goopy mess from my mom.
Just in case you haven’t already figured me out; I am not the parent who always carries baby wipes and has a snack in her purse. I am more likely to be the one who is threatening a small gaggle of children in the grocery store while picking up a ready-made meal at 6 p.m.
The family “vacation”
I found myself guilted (by social media, my husband was not for this) into planning a family vacation. It only took about 24 hours for me to realize there is a reason we don’t do this more often. Our inability to find pull-ups in a tourist town almost caused my husband to have an aneurysm. My children literally melted down as we tried to find our way back to our overpriced hotel to eat expensive food and sleep in a bed with our children.
At least we got some pictures so we could show off on Instagram.
Let’s be real, this is the real reason we went.
Home or work?
While I was a SAHM I found that by August we were all pretty much over it. My middle child always functions better with a consistent schedule and was faltering with day trips and endless hours of mindless indoor activities. My oldest daughter wanted me to invite her over to friend’s houses for a change of scene and my youngest was no longer napping amongst the daily chaos.
Now as a working mom, I cannot wait for the kids to be settled into a classroom with mental stimulation, consistent routine and without the need for constant skin protection.
I am constantly fighting between my need to spend time with my kids in the evenings with their need to get a good night’s sleep.
The result is overtired kids that refuse to get out of bed in the morning and a resentful parent.
Show me the money (please)
Can we talk about the cost of summer care? It seems like unless you are independently wealthy and only working ‘for kicks’, parents are often forced to tighten their belts in order to meet the financial needs of day camp.
So while I may have been a tearful mama a short four years ago when my oldest was about to start kindergarten I now understand.
Kids need to be in school.
Bring it on (please)
My kids need the interaction, the mental stimulation and the consistency. They need to be done their day at three and have that time to unwind and relax at home in order to be ready for sleep at a decent hour.
I need the reduction of parenting demands that come with cooler weather and earlier sunsets. When cuddling in a blanket is seen as a family activity and sweating through your clothes in no longer my day-to-day.
And so I am counting down the days until my children are in the classroom again. And I am not afraid to say it out loud.
Are you ready for back to school? Let us know in the comments!
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.