Right after Memorial Day weekend, I made a list of all the fun and educational things Annalyn and I could possibly do this summer. I organized the activities, put a little box in front of each one, and titled the page “Summer Fun List.” We put it up on the fridge and giggled about how much Fun! We were Going! to Have!
Weeks later, worn down by my child’s latest tantrum, I walked to the fridge, grabbed the list, wadded it up and threw it in the trash. I was finished trying to make summer fun.
Aside from sheer exhaustion and tear-my-hair-out frustration, my reasoning for ditching the summer list was the realization that cramming “fun” into our already too busy season wasn’t working for anyone.
More than field trips and play dates and crafts and science experiments, what Annalyn – and Mark and I – needed in the midst of this summer’s chaos and change was quiet time together. Not more time rushing from one appointment to the next, not more of me saying, “Hurry up! Let’s go! We’re going to be late! (Again.)”
So this summer, we didn’t can salsa and green beans. We didn’t go to the new aquarium. We didn’t see theater in the park, we didn’t make sidewalk chalk paint, and we didn’t practice handwriting or finish an educational craft about money.
But we did . . .
Visit friends and spend hours simply hanging out
Go to Mark’s softball game and cheer him on
Play a lot of doctor . . . and princess . . . and rock star
Go to the pool, where Annalyn learned to jump in after watching her dad jump in
Take lots of trips to the library
Snuggle in bed in between tickle fights and reading “one more” book
Sure, we also made a geography-themed craft one day and managed to make play dates with a few friends. We had a picnic reunion with old friends and ate a lot of watermelon. But for the most part, we made a point to hang out more and run around less.
Did you create a bucket list for this summer? What did you check off your list?
The beginning of summer was the end of a six month recovery from illness in our family – pertussis and bronchitis kept me in bed over December, followed by a severe bought of pneumonia for my youngest, followed by a bought of pneumonia and mono for my oldest. My family was screaming rest but, as I was weary of rest and sickbeds, I wanted to return to my normal summer plan for Camp Momma 2012. I told my friend, my daughter’s piano teacher, of all the things I had planned for summer. She, who had experienced the pnuemonia/mono double whammy with her son some time ago, told me I needed to plan to be low key this summer. So, a bit more sleeping in, a lot less crafts, fewer field trips, and being low key has been the house rule this summer. As I hear my friends tell of their summer adventures, I wish that we had done more until I look at children with much more energy than the summer began.
Catherine, it sounds like you made the best choice for your family! It’s hard not to compare and regret when I hear others talk about their adventures, too, but you’re so right – seeing healthy, happy kiddos (and a healthy, happy, SANE mama) makes it all worth it!
Seems like God is always teaching us similar lessons, Mary : ) I’ve been saying for weeks now this summer was about God teaching me to let more stuff go… the house, the activities, the expectations. And eventually my kids got pretty good at doing nothing! They played! Together! You know, used their imaginations, like I’m always wanting them to do – like, how I remember my childhood, I guess. I want them to do that and use summer for the vacation that it is, but the urge to plan it up seemed so irresistable… I don’t know. We didn’t take a big road trip this summer but it turned out that what we needed was an actual break and less schedule : )
Breaks are good – and yay for playing together and using imaginations! I love watching Annalyn play by herself, making up stories and using her imagination to create a whole new world for herself (and her toys)!
I LOVE this, Mary! Every time I read about the Moms who do every amazing, awesome thing on their summer bucket lists–usually including a perfect 2-week-long road trip–I feel like such a failure. But this summer was awesome NOT stressing out about doing a ton of stuff and just hanging out with the boys.
Besides, I’m starting to wonder who those bucket lists are for: the kids, or the parent who wrote the list? I’m concluding that it’s the latter.
I’ll be the first to admit that my bucket lists are at least half for me, but Annalyn does get a kick out of them, too. I think the key is knowing yourself and your family well enough to say THIS is all we can do, so let’s make THIS awesome. That seems to be healthier – and more fun – than trying to do a million things and being crabby through it all because it’s too hard, too busy, too much.
I think that all sounds incredibly wise!
While I don’t have kids so the summer isn’t quite the same, it’s still amazing how quickly it flies by with my nieces and nephews, and how much we’d hoped to do with them that we’ve been too busy to do. It seems to soon to have the buses all out and about again (and a pain for my commute!).
We’ve enjoyed such wonderful times though with friends, family, travels, and each other. I’m so thankful for every moment and every new memory! God is good and we can only do so much! What a good season to remember that we can’t do everything we wish we could but in the midst of that He is sovereign and gently reminding us we don’t have to try to do everything. If we could do it all, what need would we have of him?
Love you friend!! Soooo thankful for you!!
Rochelle, that is a great reminder. We CAN only do so much – and it’s beautiful, in-my-face evidence that He is holy and I am not.