I had this completely crazy moment during our last summer break. After year-end report cards were sent home and my children’s backpacks were chock full of papers and projects, I anticipated giving them some lazy, unscheduled days as a reward for all their hard work. I was also looking forward to creating some relaxing, lasting memories with my young family.
My preparation consisted of things I thought were important to my boys. I made up a small budget and hit the inexpensive, fun, seasonal department store sections to pick up squirt guns and water balloons. I happily shoved that generic ten-dollar blue plastic kiddie pool into my car’s small back seat. I had even premade healthy frozen fruit popsicle treats from Pinterest recipes for those warm evenings when the sun set well after bedtime. I had lists of places to go and people to see.
We were ready! I felt so proud of myself.
After only two weeks in, none of us were having any fun, and my survival mode proceeded to kick in. My frozen popsicles were missing (before dinnertime nonetheless), the squirt guns were all broken, and the excited energy attached to getting that blowup pool home was lost in trying to prevent squabbling siblings from fighting and whining over every little thing. My kids were bored and in a matter of days became glued to a TV screen – something I really tried to avoid.
It can be all too easy to attempt to build summer break into a grand adventure. Caught up in the details of planning, it can be even easier to lose sight of why you’re doing all the work in the first place. Through trial and error, I’ve learned how and when to create the best memories out of our summer breaks together, regardless of what we have planned.
Here is one simple yet significant routine I’ll always carry with me into summertime: make mornings count. Run errands and schedule activities and playdates before lunchtime if you can, or slow down, read stories, and cuddle in PJs awhile longer before you head to work. If you think about your young child’s school schedule, they’re only gone for the first part of the day. Maintain this change in their schedule as an advantage to yours – and make mornings matter!
This year, instead of prepping popsicles alone, I’m including my kids and we’re making them after breakfast so they’ll be ready at dinnertime. Instead of having everything prepared, we’re shopping before noon to make our intervals of laughter last longer than the water balloons.
Remember that magic lives in these little moments. After all, no one will ever forget helping Mom push that giant blue pool into that tiny back seat!
Shawna Sabedra is a freelance writer, editorial assistant, wife, and mother of three young, energetic boys