Here in Arkansas, we are in the final stretch of summer
vacation. Just three more weeks until school
starts, and quiet afternoons while the toddler naps are in sight. But it’s not just relief that is settling
in. The end of summer guilt has
reared its ugly head. Again.
Before my now fourth-grader started school, summers
weren’t much different than the rest of the year. Hotter, perhaps, but we trudged along like every other
day. Cartoons and snacks and trips to
the park consumed our hours, and everyone was content. But since he’s started school, I've felt like
I needed to create a summer out of the movies — full of water slides and
popsicles, hot dogs roasted over a fire and trips to amusement parks. And for the most part, I’ve done okay.
For the second year in a row, the summer has flown by. And for the second year in a row, our summer
has been void of amusement parks and hot dog roasts, camp outs and movie
matinees. Instead it’s a cycle of dirty
diapers and naptimes, tantrums at the grocery store and melty ice cream
cones. Life with a toddler is a
whirlwind, and ain’t nobody got time to plan a trip to Disney.
I love both my kids. I love our imperfect, sometimes chaotic, days at home. So why do I feel so guilty?
I have come to the conclusion that social media is changing
the way we view our lives — and not ALWAYS for the better. Do you know how many Summer Bucket Lists I’ve
seen pinned? How many whimsical projects
and outings, “Take a Vacation in Your Own Hometown!” articles I’ve followed
from Facebook, hoping to maybe absorb some of that magic?
But here’s the thing I really wonder: Do the kids even really care?
Friends, it’s just not happening. I can hardly get my toddler through the
grocery store right now, let alone drag her through a cross-town scavenger hunt
that I’ve meticulously planned. Recently
I saw a blog post on how to create these really fun water blobs, where you seal
all this water in these big plastic sheets and the kiddos bounce on them for
And then I read the instructions and realized that I would
probably spend more time putting them together than the kids would be playing
on them. No. Just ... no. No water blobs for my kids. I
think I’ll just turn them loose with the garden hose and call it a day.
After the kids went to bed the other night, I sat up on the
couch, mentally going over everything we’ve done this summer.
It’s a short list.
Frozen yogurt, walks in the park, the occasional play date
or trip to the library ... a pretzel at the mall? That about covers it. And once
again, I feel guilty.
Bucket List Blues? I’ve got them. But here’s the thing I really wonder: Do the kids even
When I look back on summers from my childhood, I spent most
of the day entertaining myself. Grand
vacations weren’t planned. There were no
“water blobs” or “scavenger hunts” or “spending a day being a tourist in your
own city.” I just went outside and played. Read books. Invited a friend over. And for the love of Pete, I stayed out of my
Is it possible that it’s us adults who are making things so complicated? Are we trying to give our kids the life we
never had, or show the other moms that we have it figured out? I think sometimes it’s a little bit of both.
Thinking about summers from my childhood, it was the bike
rides in the cul-de-sac, sleepovers at a friend’s house and water gun fights
at dusk that made my summer. Not some
crazy project that took my mom half the day to plan.
I’m not hating on the “fun moms.” There’s nothing wrong with making water
blobs, if that’s what floats your boat. But
if not, that’s cool too.