Things I learned on my summer vacation

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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.

baby and pool

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.

mismatched socks

plan or no plan, we’ll probably continue to mismatch our socks

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.

baby feet in the grass

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.

daddy and kids walking

So here we go September. I’m ready.

What did you learn this summer?

9 Comments

  1. I definitely second making a plan. Without one, I will seriously stay home all day in my pajamas, with the kids in various states of disarray. It’s not good. I’m a good planner when I put my mind to it.
    And summer camp is definitely not school! In one, she never cries. In the other, she cries! The counselors were practically young enough to be my kids!
    Tamara recently posted..Bust a Move.My Profile

    • Oh I’m so glad I’m not the only one who felt tricked by summer camp! So so so not the same. And I guess it’s not meant to be and it all makes sense now but wow was that a weird experience.

  2. My favourite tip: make a plan. And it’s ok to break it. Sometimes you may never ever use the plan, but it feels good knowing you have one to fall back on!
    Leah Davidson recently posted..More BeachingMy Profile

  3. I also used to make my living as a project manager and as meticulous as I was on the job, I have lived to regret a lack of planning with my family time and time again! I’ve also grown to see that any plan is better than no plan at all. Even if the plans seem dull, kids really do thrive on structure. And I too could not wait for the start of school. It’s built in structure and normalcy which always results in us utilizing the time we have left together in a more productive fashion. And I’m glad you’re feeling lighter from letting go. Damn, that’s a tough one!
    Ilene recently posted..Jersey Girls Don’t Pump GasMy Profile

    • You too!? I’ve always found it so funny that people thought that since I was a good PM that my life was always super organized and it was so never the case! But yes, any plan is better than nothing. I’m learning! And I totally agree – with the structure of school all of our time is just so much better spent. I never thought I’d be this way but oh how I love routine.

  4. Summer does teach us lessons, doesn’t it? I, too, do better with a plan – even if it doesn’t pan out. And letting go is good, but I have to force myself to do it sometimes.
    We return to the “routine” tomorrow – and as much as I will miss having my boys with me all day, I know they are ready to have their structure back.
    Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted..Winning the ShuffleMy Profile

  5. I love the season change. Love it. I look forward to summer, but equally I look forward to the return to school. I think it’s good to hit re-set every so often. When things get crazy here I pile everyone in the car. I usually head to starbucks first and then we just go. sometimes being in the car for twenty minutes or whatever is enough and then we’re all okay. other times it’s the park or the zoo or something. my kids need to hit re-set sometimes as badly as I do. xx.
    sarah reinhart recently posted..Hold on, I love you.My Profile

  6. I used to be a project manager too (and still sort of am) and agree that making a plan is key. And summer camp is most definitely not like school! We learned that too. This year was my son’s first year at real camp and I am amazed at how these kids were able to be outside and active in the heat and humidity day in and day out and were troopers about it.

    I too have learned about letting go this summer. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all the lessons I learned this summer but I am excited to head into fall holding onto those lessons and not letting them fade.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Run to Fight HungerMy Profile

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