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How to Make Summer Better For Kids

Kids, I Promise I'll Do Better Next Summer

Summer is by far my favorite time of the year. I love the long, unscheduled days, the hot sun, the swimming, the ice cream, the beach trips . . . pretty much everything about the season. And, sure, my kids, now 5 and 2, have complicated my ability to enjoy the Summer (a relaxing beach day for Mom is not something they support), but for the most part, being a stay-at-home mom has only increased my love of the season. Who wouldn't rather spend a sunny Tuesday afternoon chasing their kids around the pool versus being stuck in an office?

This Summer started off pretty well. We spent time at Grandma's house, which comes with the added benefit of a neighborhood pool. We went on a two-week family vacation to the beach, but even then, despite the almost constantly sunny skies, we could tell the clouds were about to come in. Our Summer fun was over before mid-July thanks to our family's move from one house to another a mere three miles (and an infinite amount of work) away.

The kids have been playing with iPads, entertaining themselves with boxes, and missing out on all the Summer fun I wanted them to have.
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We came home to a month of precious Summer time spent packing, moving, unpacking, getting sick from all the anxiety of moving, getting ready for school, and that's about it. And while the adults have been dealing with all that labor and stress, the kids have been playing with their iPads, entertaining themselves with boxes, and basically missing out on all the Summer fun I wanted them to have. Sure, my daughter got to experience her first year at my old Summer camp, but I was too busy packing her toys to fulfill my promise that I'd drop her off on her first day. It sucked, probably even more for me than her.

So, now that Summer is almost over, I'm officially stating that next year, kids, I promise I'll make it better.

Next Summer, we'll make one of those lists on a huge chalkboard of all the things we want to do — catch fireflies, find an ice cream truck, run through sprinklers — and do every single one of them. We'll live in our swimsuits, jumping around from pools to splash parks to the beach. We'll sign you up for even more Summer camps and double down on beach vacations. We'll eat ice cream every afternoon and ride our bikes up and down the street after dinner. We'll make picnic lunches and eat them in the backyard. We'll walk around barefoot and go to bed late, and (hopefully) we'll all sleep in.

I know life happens, and our day-to-day realities can't always mirror the lives we envision in our heads. But I remember the magic of my childhood Summers, which always felt hot and wonderfully aimless and everlasting. I want the same for my children. And when I know the decisions I've made — beneficial for them in the long-term or not — have prohibited that from happening, then yes, I feel guilt.

The Summers of their childhood are numbered, and I want every one of them to be as great as possible. So next year, we're packing up the iPads, home improvement projects, and moving boxes, and we're breaking out the sunscreen. My kids deserve it, and so do I.

Image Source: Flickr user Ed Garcia
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