Usually, the end of the school year is the start of the season of Summer Mom - she who takes much-needed break from worrying about nutrition and screen time and instead focuses on making sure the cooler is packed for the pool and she’s got a dishy novel to enjoy while the children are protected by lifeguards and happily enjoying junk from the snack bar.
This summer? So far, at least at our neighborhood pool, there is no snack bar — too crowded, too much transferring of items between hands. We’re grateful that the pool has opened at all, but spaces for family swim time are limited and sometimes we can’t get on the list. It’s a bummer, because when it’s hot and you’re bored at home, there’s pretty much nothing else but the pool or the local swimming hole, except we are not Laura Ingalls and there is no swimming hole. Of course, we are beginning the summer already bored at home since we’ve been here since March which was 42 months ago.
It’s the perfect storm for madness, which is why you must - you MUST - adopt these critical Summer Mom strategies:
1. Whenever your children approach you at the pool, or in the kitchen, or on the porch - just remind them to wash their hands. It will buy you 20 seconds x the number of children you have to be berated with questions or needs.
2. As always, paper goods. Can’t stress enough how much easier it will make it for you to deal with a sink full of dishes if the only dishes in it are a wine glass and a coffee mug.
3. There has never been a more critical time to embrace modern technology. There are no screen time rules in the summer. Just be like Elsa and let. it. go. Now - with no movies, no libraries, no museums, no wandering the mall, no trampoline parks … give yourself a break and let them binge the entire series of Phineas and Ferb in one day. You’ll survive. So will they.
4. Sunscreen is non-negotiable, and of course you can’t just shove your kids in with other kids to get sunscreened this year since social distancing — but you can empower them to put their own sunscreen on when they are at an appropriate age. Good luck with that. A few minor burns and they’ll learn how to not miss the spots. (kidding! Skin cancer! But seriously, sunscreen. And hats.)
5. Don’t be tricked into engaging in crafts. You don’t have to put up with that.
6. Summer fun can literally be a hose and a stack of tupperware. Don’t make yourself crazy and don’t make more work for yourself.
7. Nutrition. This is an important one: the next time you are at BJs or Costco, load up on the single serve mandarin oranges. Portable, healthy, easy, fun. Serve with your hot dogs from the grill and voila! Dinner is served! Fruits or vegetables every day are encouraged but NOT MANDATORY.
8. You’re trying to work from home, they’re trying to have a fun summer, and the TV is at volume one million. NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES are your friend. Invest.
9. Set a good example. The best way to do this is to read books. While they empty the dishwasher, read a book. They are sorting the laundry, and you are reading a book. They are emptying the cooler, and you are reading a book. This is how to raise readers: be one yourself.
10. Know that you are not alone. This feels hard - quarantine was easier than re-opening — the rules feel hard to comprehend and they keep moving the goal posts on us. Normally we might make a countdown to Back to School, but we don’t even know what that might look like. We don’t know if we will get a summer vacation. It’s a summer like we’ve never experienced and never expected — but with masks, social distancing, good humor, good wine and good friends, we’ll get through it. We really are all in this together - separately.