I’ve been eagerly watching the rolling return to school for weeks now. We start our gradual return with a few half days this week before really jumping in next week.
And holy moly am I looking forward to it.
I never wanted to be one of those parents who spent August eagerly looking forward to the return of the school year. I want to be one of those moms who enjoys the summers with her kids. Treats long, hazy days as the special time that they are and greets the first days of the new school year with a healthy mix of celebration, excitement, and sadness that another season has passed.
But this summer was different. Largely unplanned and chaotic, and, sadly, very much my own doing (or, rather, lack of doing). The crazy is getting to us. I know that what’s best for my family now is a return to routine. Normalcy. A schedule that dictates a little more. Structure to guide us until we can get our feet back underneath to support the weight of it all. A change of season to help us all move onward and upward.
But I can’t just let this summer go and fade into oblivion. No, we learned a lot this summer.
So, with that, I present 5 things I learned on my summer vacation.
1. Make a plan. And then break it if you want. But make a plan.
One day, not so long ago, I made my living as a project manager. And I was good at it. I know my way around some details and I know how to plan. That I left my planning skills at the office most days never hurt me much. Until I had kids. To have a successful anything with small children, one must plan. Honestly, I need to plan my own trips to the bathroom. Just before baby boy was born, I got a little too comfy. Our girl was old enough to roll a little more easily and planning became slightly less crucial. But double the children, double the planning. I didn’t plan for this summer and we survived but did not thrive. I’m not going to let that happen again. You should see my google calendar now.
2. The park is our happy place.
Whenever things get a bit too crazy. Whenever we are all about ready to pull our hair out. Whenever we need a bit of a rest. Or, honestly, whenever we just need something to do, we go to the park. Something about the walk there, that we usually find the place nearly empty, and that both kids find peaceful entertainment, helps us all calm down and reset. The park is where we recharge. I am now trying to figure out how we get there more often once the cold sets in.
3. We have a great village.
I groan at cliches as much as the next person but those phrases are worn out for a reason. And it really does take a village. In August, I found myself leaning on, venting to, commiserating with, and being incredibly grateful for our wonderful friends and family. Back when our girl was born, our village was small. It’s grown since then in the most amazing ways and I don’t know where we’d be without the people who support us and pick us up when we fall.
4. Summer camp is not school. Even if they happen at the same place.
Our girl’s preschool offers a summer camp. I thought it’d be great. We love the school, several of the same teachers and friends would be there, it covered roughly the same number of hours in the day… It’d be just like school! Except that no, it was not like school. It was camp. Long, hot, busy days. Not nearly the same level of organization. Extra packing each night because she started each day in a swim suit. Young, college-aged counselors who I’m sure are lovely people but are still younger than any caregiver I’d select for my children if given the choice. In the end, camp was great. She had fun, she learned more swimming skills than she would have otherwise and she made some great memories. In the end, we’ll probably be back next year. But this time we’ll go in knowing that it’s camp. Not school.
5. Sometimes, you just have to let go.
This one has been a tough one for me. I’m a white knuckle kind of gal. Things, emotions, people, routines, I cling to them all. But this summer, I’ve had no choice but to let go. Fear, anger, control. A few dreams and a few plans. Relationships. Ways of doing things that made me feel comfortable but that just weren’t working. Letting go is hard. It’s painful. But it’s also freeing. And as I enter Fall, my new favorite season, I’m feeling lighter thanks to all that I’ve let go.
So here we go September. I’m ready.
What did you learn this summer?