Summertime and the livin's easy — unless you're a parent. Summer break may mean you're temporarily freed from the day-to-day responsibilities of school (i.e. dragging your kids out of bed, making sure they don't look like they crawled out of a dumpster, and remembering to pay for their lunches), but there are still plenty of challenges. Namely, refereeing sibling squabbles and deciding what to do with all that free time.
Luckily, there are a few things that we can let slide during Summer. Maybe not give up on completely, but loosen the reins, so to speak. Things like . . .
Daily bath time
Yes, yes, yes, personal hygiene is important and all that. But while I religiously ensure that each of my kids gets a nightly scrub-down every school night, I admit to slacking a little when they're not going to be seen by the general public. They're just going to get dirty again immediately anyway, amiright? Summertime is great for what I call the "baby-wipe wipe-down" — just attend to the stinky or crusty parts and call it good. Besides, they swim a lot, and chlorine is made to kill germs.
I have four sons, and something I never expected about having boys was the ridiculous frequency of their haircuts. I swear, it'll be short one day, and within a week it looks like either they have a.) had an unfortunate incident with a light socket, or b.) are going for that shaggy "emo" look. While they're in school, I dutifully keep up with their trims — but during the Summer, I either buzz them completely bald (hey, it'll grow back before school starts!) or let them get a little (OK, a lot) bushier between cuts.
Everybody knows sleep is crucial for proper development. And when they've got to get up early every morning to catch the bus, I make sure my kids are in bed at a decent hour. But summertime is prime time for staying up later and sleeping in longer. Besides, have you ever tried to put a kid to bed while it's still light out? You'd have better luck trying to coax a cat into a swimming pool.
Along similar lines, I can pack away my "beds are better for restful sleep" speech, because I don't really care where my kids end up when school's out, as long as they're snoozing. You want to sleep on the couch? Be my guest. In a sleeping bag on your bedroom floor? Go ahead. In a tent in the backyard? Fine, just take an extra blanket.
During Summer, my refrigerator may as well have a neon sign saying "OPEN 24 HOURS" — because it is. Every time I turn around, there's a kid foraging for (yet another) snack. Usually this would be my cue to launch into a tirade about how they're going to spoil their dinner. But thanks to our more relaxed schedule, I don't mind as much. In fact, kid, that snack can actually be your dinner! I just offer them a variety of healthy(ish) choices and let them go to town. They're eating something relatively nutritious that I don't have to beg them to eat — and I don't have to slave away in the kitchen every day to cook something they'll inevitably turn their noses up at anyway. WIN!
When the kids are home 24/7, tablets and computers and video games can be a mom's best friend. Yes, they spend plenty of time playing outside with their friends and using their imaginations, but they're also pretty cozy with their respective gadgets. When their waking hours don't have to be so strictly budgeted, I don't mind if they get more screen time than usual (especially on those days when I know that if I hear "I'm booooored!" one more time, my ears will bleed). Download some fun educational apps if you feel guilty.
Like most moms, I try my best to make sure my kids look presentable at school, always wearing something clean and unstained and un-holey and matching. But when school's out, all bets are off. My son went outside to play the other day wearing a red Spider-Man shirt and a pair of seriously outgrown green plaid shorts that came roughly to his upper thigh. And I didn't care.
There's nothing wrong with loosening up when the academic year is over — it's good for everyone's mental health. Summertime might be a break for kids, but it's also a break for moms. And I don't know who deserves it more.