A few years back, I read this great blog post that suggested people do a holiday wrap-up in which they record what worked for the season, what didn’t work for the season, and any notes to remember for next year. You’re supposed to slip this note in your stockings so it’s there when you unpack the next year and you can make the appropriate adjustments. Genius! I wish I could remember where I read this brilliant idea!
As we’ve come to the end of this summer, I’ve realized the same thing would be helpful for me about the summer season. I’d love to not make the same mistakes next year that I made this year. It seems like most of my Facebook feed is filled with kids who are back to school, and although Gabe hasn’t started yet, these last few days of summer seem like a good time to reflect. So here we go…what worked and what didn’t.
Traveling with Tahd || we don’t typically travel with Tahd during the school year because, well, school. When the opportunity presents itself in summer, sometimes it has felt like an overwhelming proposition. But this year, it worked well for us, even though one of the trips was quite extended. I want to remember that it’s worth the effort to visit new places and be together as a family.
Renting a hotel suite || God bless Homewood Suites and the like! I’m pretty sure they are the only reason our travel worked well. With such a big age gap between kids, we really benefit from having that second room so we can split up the asleep from the awake. We didn’t have suites during our extended trip last summer, and the difference between the two was dramatic.
Planning playdates for Gabe || He needs these for sure. Although I’m thinking we’ve aged out of the term “playdate” as far as he’s concerned. We scheduled a few this summer, and I need to do more next summer. He gets understandably bored with no one around who understands his preteen boy humor.
Air conditioning || We usually try to keep our a/c off as much as possible, and living in the upper midwest, you’d think this would be a winning game. The problem for me is the humidity. When I’m humid, I’m C-R-A-N-K-Y. Super. And although we don’t tend to get super hot, we definitely do get humidity, especially living so close to Lake Michigan.
When we went to Memphis, the heat and humidity were crazy – 105-110 degrees most days! But I noticed I wasn’t the least bit cranky. And that’s when I realized it was because the hot, sticky feeling was only temporary – I might be outside for an hour or two with the kids and sweat buckets, but it wouldn’t be long before we’d be back into an air-conditioned space. When we got home from our trip, I decided that avoiding my crankiness was worth the extra expense, and we’ve been more generous with our a/c since then. It has made for a much happier end-of-summer!
Running || I wasn’t sure how I’d get back to running in the summer. It’s hard to run with two little people in a stroller and then have Gabe on his bike. I figured the littles would cry and scream a lot and/or Gabe would get irritated that I couldn’t keep up with him. Instead, it’s been pretty good! I haven’t run as frequently as I would have liked, but when I do run it goes really well. I mean, the kids do really well. I’m as slow as molasses! 😉 But out there…
Screen time limits || Gabe would probably disagree, but in the middle of July, we realized we’d become too dependent on screens and we needed a little detox. So we unplugged the tv and cut Gabe back on video game time and hoped for the best. It went shockingly well. I’m still a little surprised! We’ve fallen off the wagon a bit during this last week, but it was definitely worth the trouble to recalibrate and reset.
Loads of reading || I’ve wound up reading quite a few books this summer, and this makes me very happy. I squeezed it in while road-tripping (as the passenger, naturally…), while putting Jude down to sleep, while the kids play outside and I sit nearby on a blanket…I didn’t have vast, unending stretches of time to curl up with a good book or sixteen, but I was able to make headway into several books I’ve been really eager to start. That’s progress!
Going to the movies || I took the kids to the movies several times this summer. Maybe it won’t be so bad by next summer, but it mostly made me anxious and frantic. One would be watching, one would be talking, and the third would be running. Do you know how hard it is to chase a child quietly in a movie theatre while you shush another and basically leave the last one unattended in a dark room full of strangers? Gah! We only went to kid-friendly matinees, but it still stressed me out.
Skipping the beach || The movies having been such a horrifying experience, I knew I didn’t dare brave the beach alone with one fledgling swimmer and two nonswimmers. But now that it’s the end of August, I’m sad we didn’t find a way to go more often. If it’s still as chaotic with them next year, I need to prioritize going in evenings or on weekends when Tahd can go, too.
Being off antidepressants || More to come on this another time, hopefully, but the short version is I think I still need them. My anxiety has been through the roof, which has colored much of my summer.
Bedtimes || This is probably not a summer thing, but it felt like it because all of our schedules were more loosey-goosey all summer. We wind up doing some sort of bedtime routine with someone for two hours most nights, frequently more. It is just too much. We need to make some adjustments.
Not writing on Wednesdays || I have this one project I’ve been working on for eons for my other site. I was sure it was going to be a quick little project and I’d release it into the wild a few weeks after I started. Instead…a year later…I’m still working. And I didn’t have time to do much regular blogging, either. These make my soul sad. I don’t know what’s going on in my head until I start writing things down.
Planning daytime activities || at the beginning of the summer I had grand plans of activities I wanted to incorporate into our weeks – lots of artsy things and some specific targeted practice with table manners. We did a little bit of this at the beginning of summer, but not nearly what I’d hoped to do. I’m not sure if I should try again or should work on letting go of the expectation/desire.
Staying up too late || I have a hard time balancing bedtimes with the fact that I work late several nights of the week, but I need to do a better job at getting my rest. I felt like a zombie so many days. Thank goodness for coffee! I don’t know how I survived my first 37 years without it!
Not keeping Gabe busy enough || He always wants to stay home and do whatever he wants, but this summer I realized how much he really needs structure in order to function well. We went through stages with a lot of conflict because he was understandably bored. Next year, I need to insist on a few summer day camp-type experiences. I’m sure we can find some fun options for him.
What did you do this summer that worked well or not?