Summer is here. It’s really here (despite bouts of capelin-must-be-coming RDF). The solstice has come and gone, and yes, the children have had their last day of school. Our two months of summer holidays are here.
Are you excited? Are you jumping up and down for joy, planning your holiday, lazing about?
Or perhaps, if you have any school-age children, have you already had a few moments of whining, boredom, whining, complaining, fighting, arguing, and bouts of utter ennui?
How am I going to get through two months of children who want something to be happening all the time? How do I deal with siblings that are used to having a break from one another during the day while at school or extracurricular activities, and after just a few short days of summer vacation are already at one another’s throats?
Oh, summer. To the season, yes: welcome! But to the vacation: how will we ever survive you?
Time to plan a little summer fun
I have great dreams of beautiful summer adventures — for myself, for my tiny toddler, for my older children. I imagine that if I am excited enough, if I can dream big enough for all of us, if I drag them on fantastic adventures and provide them all the energy and wonder that I myself feel, then they too will eventually share my excitement. I will be contagious enough for us all, and hopefully—hopefully—they too will eventually give in to the wonder and magic of summer.
My memories of summers growing up are of eating popsicles in an inflatable pool in our backyard, of juice dripping down my chin from large slices of watermelon, of blowing dandelion flowers and bubbles, of hopscotch, of climbing trees and making mud pies. There are memories of beaches and sand castles, of pink lemonade and lemonade stands, of fruit crisps and picking berries on the roadside. There are memories of block parties and falling asleep in my backyard, nestled in between other neighbourhood children, as we watched the stars and listened to our parents laughing in the background. There are memories of new summer movies and staying up way too late eating popcorn with my parents, and lazy sleep-ins with pancakes in the morning.
Here is what I want for my children
Picking berries fresh off the farm and adding them to our pancakes or yogurt in the morning.
Picking peas from the garden and tomatoes from the greenhouse, camping adventures with mama, making s’mores and campfire banana boats, grilling corn and veggie burgers and avocados for guacamole on the charcoals at Topsail Beach while watching the sun set.
Children falling asleep in the car ride home after making rock towers and playing too late into the evening, hammock time at Bannerman Park after many many picnics with friends, trips to the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium and the Watershed cafe to explore marine life and espresso (together! yes!), more camping — camping everywhere, even in our backyard.
Lazy beach time at Sunshine Park while eating watermelon and raspberries, introducing my children to wonderful, new, old movies on summer nights—E.T., Short Circuit, The Goonies—lazy morning snuggles while watching cartoons from the National Film Board of Canada with my toddler, drinking hot chocolate for breakfast by the ocean, eating breakfast outside on as many mornings as possible, walks, hikes, and bike rides.
Dancing, lots of dancing—dancing outside, dancing inside, dancing under the stars—lazy swims in the pond, catching tadpoles and looking for frogs, road trips, making ice cream with fresh cream and our own strawberries, and late nights drinking prosecco outdoors with friends (that one’s for me, not the kids).
Because yes, us parents need our own summer bucket list.
After just a few days of summer holidays, I am realizing that it’s not only the kids that need to survive summer — it’s the parents too. And we need to do more than just survive summer. We need—we deserve—to have a wondrous, magical time. And if I am relaxed, if I can overlook their ennuie and their bickering, if I can be sure to take none of it personally at all, and simply enjoy summer for this short time that we have it, we will all be the better for it.
And maybe, just maybe, we can have one of the best summers ever.