It was 6:30AM on a Wednesday morning when I was woken by the sound of tiny (trying to tiptoe) footsteps on the hardwood floors. I knew it, right away, that my 4-year-old was awake and downstairs. Likely in the pantry or hanging by his pinky finger from the top shelf of the refrigerator. I screamed into the pillow and decided to ignore the sounds.
Oh summer, how lovely you’ve been to me. What a joy it has been to do this same routine, day after day.
I hear the sound of chewing and wrappers being torn off of forbidden objects. I throw the covers off and storm downstairs. There he is, underneath the kitchen table, eating my entire bag of Milano Cookies. MY BAG OF MILANO COOKIES. Excuse me little man but A) You are not supposed to have cookies for breakfast and B) The Milano cookies are reserved for Mommy. See those sugary coated sprinkley $1 bag of cookies in the pantry? Those are yours.
Too exhausted to make a massive stink, I click the cartoons on and brew my first (of many) cups of coffee. I sit down to text my bestie when a ding comes to my phone. “I’m about to cry.” It says. “I’m bored, I’m unsteady, I can’t handle this. What are you doing today?” Ah, there she is. My rock. My best friend. “I feel ya.” I reply. “I can’t do the pool again, the lake is too dirty, it’s too hot for a park, I don’t know what we’re doing.” The dings stopped and it got me thinking.
“How about this? What if I hired my two mother’s helpers and they watch all four of our children while you and I sit in my master bedroom with the door locked, a plate of food, coffee and music?” Her response was simple, “Yes.”
What’s a mother’s helper?
A gift from God. Seriously. They are usually teenage girls, anywhere from 13 – 16 who watch your little ones while you’re at home. This is great for those parents who work from home, need to get housework done, cook dinner or even sleep. I pay mine a whopping $7/hr, so basically, it’s a free service.
My bestie arrived and deposited her children with the mother’s helpers, she and I made a big ole plate of food and darted upstairs. For TWO HOURS we talked and ate. We kicked it back to high school and took turns playing each other our favorite songs. We discussed our dreams, troubles at home and celeb crushes. It was so incredibly therapeutic. Not to anyone’s surprise, the two hours flew by and we were back at it, however, we were cleansed and happy.
Why are we doing this alone? Why are we making ourselves suffer through the monotony of summer in solitude? There’s a different way. There’s a better way.
Shake it up, ladies. I’m serious. Shake it up or it’s going to be one hell of a summer. That boredom you feel? That loneliness you feel? It won’t go away unless you take action.
I get that schedules and routine are important. Breakfast at 7am, home for lunch at 12pm, nap at 1pm, park at 3pm, dinner at 5pm, bed at 7pm. But really, every single day?
Why not load the kids in the car and take a day trip, just you and the kids. Go to a different town, go to the beach, go to the lake. I’m sure they will doze off here and there in the car, grab some fast food for lunch and get home when you get home.
How about lunch at the nearest ice cream parlor? Don’t nuts count as a viable meal?
What about calling a babysitter in the middle of the day so you and your best friend can act like it’s summer of ’95 again? Remember, summer is also for you, not just your kids.
If you create a summer based on your children alone, you will be very miserable and unfulfilled. Spending days in the kiddie pool and at the splashpad is not this 32-year-old’s idea of a mind blowing and memorable summer. But, surprising yourself with a mid day date with your best friend or a day trip to the beach. . . that’s what you will remember.
Sure, you’re building memories for your kids, but I ain’t concerned about them. I’m concerned about you, Mama. The woman I see forcing a smile at the playground, checking her phone for something more exciting, watching the clock to stay on schedule. I am worried about you. I am worried that your precious days are slipping through your fingertips and before you know it, summer will be gone.
Break the constraints of schedules. Stop going to the playground. Put the peanut butter and jelly aside. If you want sushi for lunch, take your kids to a sushi restaurant. If you want to stay up late to catch fireflies, keep your kids up late. If you need time with your best friend, hire a babysitter. You can do this.
Be a little selfish this summer.