Every. single. morning. I have the same routine. When I hear one of the kids wake up, I throw some clothes on and put on my glasses. I get both of them downstairs, change diapers, give the toddler a drink and fruit, feed the baby if she needs to be fed, and I turn on PBS. (Yes, the baby watches way more TV than my toddler did, and no, the tv is not on all day.) I choose this time wisely to make our tv time, because ya know what I always do next?
Drink my coffee.
Yes, I realize that a great portion of America drinks their coffee in the morning before really starting their day, but this ritual is more than just “waking up.” It’s not really about the coffee, but more about the me time. Yes, it may seem selfish that I want to enjoy a hot cup of coffee while my kids watch tv, but they are also playing, overjoyed to see one another, and just waking up themselves and this is an absolutely necessary routine we have grown to love. I believe in the importance of independent play with supervision and this is a great way to practice too :). Plus it only ever lasts about 10 minutes, trust me!
As a stay-at-home mom, my kids need me ALL DAY LONG. I am always there for them. It’s the most amazing thing in the world. Also the hardest. Every mom needs a minute to herself, and I choose to take this minute right when we wake up. It refuels me. It gives me strength. It allows me to take a deep breath before starting the day so that I can reflect on how to be the best mom I can be, before I let myself feel upset or defeated. It’s everything.
So, what does this have to do with summer anyway? Well in the past I may have been viewed as a bit of a perfectionist to some. Although I love adventure and always took the chance to try new things, I knew that I always had control. I can be a very uptight person who gets anxious when things don’t go my way. Pair this with motherhood, especially with two babies, and things could get ugly.
Two years and two kids later, I’ve learned how to deal with this side of my personality, and I’ve also realized that kids don’t conform. Schedules are awesome, but kids don’t know perfect. And that’s how I can learn from them every day. (Check out my article in The Odyssey “Why We Should All be More Like Our Toddlers”).
Yesterday I watched my son literally roll around in the mud that he and some friends made from the hose, and he couldn’t be happier. My mind started to wander to thoughts like, “How in the world am I going to get him clean” and “Ah he’s supposed to be eating lunch now.” But this is the epitome of summer and I was able to relax and let him enjoy the moment.
Summer is enjoying the beautiful weather that only comes around a few months out of the year (for us anyway). Summer is embracing dirty kids. Summer is being thankful for being able to be home and witness the smiles on my kids’ faces every single day while we enjoy a new outdoor activity.
I came across this beautifully written piece from Today Parents the other day while scrolling through Facebook. I hope you watch or read it and that it hits home with you as it did for me!
It really got me thinking. Sometimes I let such little things bother me, and I hate myself for it. If you’re a controlling mom, you might understand my anxiety that surrounds some summer activities. I tend to stress about naptimes, healthy eating, cleanliness etc. and to a point, I think it’s normal. But this year my kids are a little older and can really begin to enjoy summers as much as I did when I was a kid. This year I am allowing myself to let go a little bit and try to truly and deeply enjoy life.
This is summer, and this is how I am going to enjoy it. Whether your kids are off from school or as little as mine, I hope you do too!
- Be Flexible
Try to stick to schedule (because kids love routine on the inside ;)) but realize that the sunshine stays out later in the summer, it’s harder to leave that summer air and come inside, and these days wont last forever. Hopefully naps and nighttime sleep will be better because all of the air and exercise your kids are getting! I know this part is working out for me so far!
2. Be Loving
Even when you’re annoyed, try not to let the little things get to you. Be understanding, no matter how old your child is, and give them time and space to explore and be little. Give them hugs and chase them through the grass. Show them how much this time means to you. They may not remember all of these moments but these moments sure will make an impact on them.
3. Be Thoughtful
The smallest things make such a big difference in kids’ lives. Let them each lunch outside. Appreciate their energy. I was a teacher, so I know how excited they are to have the summer off! Be patient and take your time. Getting out of the house, especially when packing for a hike or another adventure, takes a lot of planning, but it’s all worth it. Oh, and leave the mess for later. You can always clean up when they’re sleeping, but you won’t always be able to enjoy this time with your kids.
4. Be a Good Role Model
Put the phone down. Be kind to others. If you’re exhausted (which you will be) lay down on the ground with them and have a tickle fight, or just look up at the clouds. Teach your children by example to appreciate nature and be thankful for the summer.
5. Be Happy
My son’s new favorite phrase is to tell us who’s happy. “Mama happy, Dada happy, Ella happy, James happy” he says often. I don’t ever want his zest for life and optimism to change, and although I know he will grow up, I’d love to bottle up these happy days and keep them forever.
So, I don’t know about you, but I am going to make a conscious effort to enjoy this summer; and all of the mess and craziness that comes with it.
But first, coffee.