I love summer.
Some days I have to stop and pinch myself, while others I wonder if maybe I’ve just simply lost my mind. Yet, that sentence holds true, I absolutely love summer.
Perhaps it’s the longer days, low pressure nights or lazy mornings or maybe all three. As a full-time working mom, juggling life with a nine- and 12-year-old I’ll be the first to admit it’s not always easy.
I am learning however, and just as I do with my children, I’m patient with myself. Yes, I believe all moms, parents, guardians need to remember to be patient with themselves.
I’ve shared before my joy in being an ‘older’ mom. My mentors have equipped me with valuable lessons; I’ve paid attention to their every move, ‘wins’ and ‘losses.’ What I’ve learned the most is that you never truly feel you get it all right. We tend to be hardest on ourselves and create extra pressure that is really unnecessary, but how do we do it all?
How do we give our kids a memorable summer? How do we keep them busy, off technology, stimulated and growing while not being educated?
This summer I consciously chose a new route for these questions I begin pondering in late April of every year. For me the answer proved to be simplistic, as well as freeing … We don’t.
Yep. That’s right, I Teresa Hammond faced this summer not sweating the ‘how to keep the summer schedule full’ philosophy. Instead, I chose to go old school, revert back a bit to my own days as a kid. I too had a working mom, who unlike myself, did not have a flexible job. A key factor which I’m not only grateful for but recognize gives me/us the ability to go with the flow a wee bit better.
In truth, we kicked off our summer with a memorable vacation, which both kids are still reliving, that’s a win. We returned home to be faced by each of them celebrating birthdays, which was exhausting yet rewarding. We embraced it with a simple night at Gold Dust Pizza, with two friends in tow, a roll of quarters each, followed by a sleep over.
As the ‘busy’ in me started to stress the coming weeks ahead and how I would keep them busy, a friend shot me an article on the art of allowing our children to be bored. Sadly, it’s a novel idea in today’s age of over stimulation and constant contact. The timing of it could not have been more perfect, as I myself was struggling a bit with the real life disconnect my life had begun to take.
As an aside, I’ve been a longtime fan of Social Media and the connection it allows us to friends and family far and wide. As I began this reflective phase however, I recognized I missed real connection. I missed phone calls, lunch dates and yep, I missed being bored. The over stimulation of the constant connection had gotten to me. So, I went silent and in doing so our entire family has benefitted.
This summer my children have spent days in their pajamas. They have also played board games, built forts and read books. They’ve enjoyed play dates and sleepovers and lots and lots of swimming. In short, we’re using this down time, this time of ‘being bored’ to recharge our batteries and reconnect.
The best part, I have yet to hear either of them say they’re bored. Now granted there is a month left before they return to school and that can change. But isn’t that the point? Isn’t the purpose of down time and recharging allowing yourself the ability to miss something so you are eager to return?
In closing, please be reassured, I hardly feel I have all the answers. Those who know me know I have more questions than answers when it comes to this parenting thing. The beautiful thing is sharing the company with those equally challenged and those who have walked the path already. Listening to one another, sometimes brainstorming and often times just laughing as we hope not to mess it all up too badly.
When all is said and done, regardless how we navigate or how it all shakes out, one thing remains ... I still love summer. I have grown from a kid who once hung around the neighborhood day dreaming about my future and keeping cool in a pool to a mom who simply hopes the same for her kids. By mid-August we’ll once again be living from our car, amidst the hustle and bustle of school, work and activities. For today, we are reveling in our boredom, you should try it.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.