The 1 Mistake I Make Every Summer That I Refuse to Make Again

I'm saying it now to hold myself accountable: this Summer will be the Summer I lighten up with the early bedtime thing. I mean it. I'll let my kids stay up later. I know it will be hard for me because early bedtime is my jam — yes, even in the Summer. I love reading in my quiet nook with the outside Summer light shining in or enjoying a cocktail with my husband on the patio; so yes, I will put my kids to bed so I can enjoy my favorite Summer activities. It might sound selfish, but early bedtimes have just always worked for our family; the kids wake up well-rested, and my husband and I get to spend some time taking care of ourselves. But now that the kids are older (almost 5 and 7) I think it's time I loosen the leash a little.

They're no longer in the baby and toddler years, so a little less sleep won't completely wreck the days that follow. They can either make up that lost sleep with a nap or even by sleeping in if they want to. (Fingers crossed, right?) But one thing I can't make up to them are those lost Summer memories that take place at dusk or even after the sun goes down.

This Summer, I'm going to give in to the late-night Summer activities that I remember loving as a kid. I remember gallivanting through the grass with my brothers, glass jars in hand, trying to catch fireflies. We'd follow the glow of the little bugs and swing our jars into the air trying to grab them. I never caught a single one, but the joy of trying to still stays with me. Next on my list will be a late-night bonfire to roast marshmallows. My kids have roasted several marshmallows in their day, but it was usually a hurried fiasco because I was so damn stressed about getting them to bed on time. But this Summer, I want to watch my kids lounge in camping chairs circling our hodge-podge bonfire pit, staring into the fire on a Wednesday night — just because.

This is a little embarrassing, and I can't believe I'm about to say this, but my kids have yet to watch fireworks. I know. I'm lame. But my kids used to snooze right through them. I didn't see the purpose in torturing them (and let's be honest, myself) by forcing them to stay awake with all that noise. But this year, they're old enough to truly enjoy them — and remember them for that matter. So, I'm so excited to head to a local spot near a lake on the Fourth of July, throw down a couple of blankets, and sprawl out. We'll munch on snacks and I'll enjoy my kids' "oohs and ahhs" over the fireworks display. I'm excited to share this first-time magic with my kids, despite whatever crankiness follows the next morning.

And finally, I just want to relax on the whole bedtime thing for my kids because, well, they only get one childhood. If they're still running through the sprinkler or bobbing in the neighbor's pool past bedtime, I'll let it slide. Because it's those simple memories that they'll hold onto forever. And who I am to take that away from them? This vow isn't going to be an easy one for good ol' mom to keep. I know that. But I owe it to my growing children to try. I want them to have those magical childhood memories that take place after the sun goes down.