how to survive your summer in 51 easy steps

1. Make a plan called “How to Have the Best Summer Ever!”

2. Realize on the second day of summer that your plan is garbage.

3. Make a new plan called “Our Carefree Summer!”

4. Don’t tell everyone that your new summer plan is actually called “Dear God help us I miss the structure.”

5. Send your three year old back to his room every morning at 6:00 am.

6. Purchase a fancy color-changing clock for your three year old that will glow green when he is allowed to leave his room in the morning.

7. Say “Stay in your room until your clock is green” every five minutes starting every morning at 6:00 am.

8. Coffee.

9. If June: buy expensive mineral sunscreen and have your children stand like statues while you slather it on like spackle.

10: If July (or mid to late June, whenever you crack): buy cheap spray sunscreen and mist in your child’s general direction. Ask them lovingly to “close eyes and pinch noses.”

11. Just come to terms with the fact that sand will be everywhere.

12. Cry a little bit when you see the first back-to-school display.

13. Cry a little harder when your six year old learns super soakers are a thing.

14. Wine.

15. Teach your kids that the “S Word” is “Snack,” and we do not swear.

16. Glance into your child’s room to see clothes and sand and toys and books and bedding everywhere. Then say a different kind of “S Word” and just shut that door. Shut the door.

17. Try not to look too excited when your kid says he’s tired. “Do you want to TAKE A NAP DO YOU WANT TO TAKE A NAP?” Nope, he’s good now.

18. Visit every park that’s ever existed. Pack every vegetable and cracker and fruit you’ve ever owned. Listen to children complain about being bored and hungry.

19. Attempt to put your child to bed when the sun is still very high in the sky.

20. Try to explain daylight savings time and end up crying and exclaiming that it really, truly is bedtime, no matter what it looks like outside.

21. More wine.

22. Curse the “young adults” next door who are being loudly unsupportive of your belief that it is, in fact, bedtime.

23. Send your kid back to his room.

24. Send your kid back to his room.

25. Send your kid back to his room.

26. Go to sleep.

27. Wake up; send your kid back to his room.

28. Make a mental note to research how tiny humans function with so little sleep. You never will, though. You’re too tired!

29. Buy school supplies far too early. Think about teachers. Mentally send them a fruity cocktail. They earned it, man.

30. Start planning activities that are an hour or two away, just for the air-conditioned kid-buckled driving time.

31. Watch your kid swim the entire length of the pool underwater, when last year he wouldn’t even go down the slide.

32. Realize that summers really go pretty fast, even if sometimes they seem kinda long.

33. Remember it’s your three year old’s last summer before he starts school — preschool, sure — but school nonetheless.

34. Watch your six year old ride a bike without training wheels, after summers of complete bike apathy.

35. Sit in the grass with your kids and catch fireflies long after they should be in bed.

36. Think “this summer thing isn’t so bad.”

37. Get up too early, stay up too late, overplan the warm July days you have left.

38. Vow to do the same when it’s August.

39. You’ll sleep when you’re dead, anyway.

40. (Or when school starts.)

41. (Or when daylight savings time FINALLY ENDS.)

42. Stop rolling your eyes when people say, “oh, they’re only young once.” Even though they’re actually young for like 12-18 years or however you want to gauge it.

43. I mean, they are only young once.

44. At least, they’re only six and three during summer once.

45. So decide to just “soak it all up.”

46. Except for the sand.

47. I mean, you’ll soak that up anyway without even trying.

48. Maybe invest in some industrial strength blackout curtains.

49. Buy lots of coffee and wine.

50. Embrace your summer fully.

(51. And pray for all of the teachers. Their time is coming. You know it, I know it, they know it; pray, just pray, just pray.)

Happy summer to all, and to all a good bedtime. (Or wine.)

summer tips (for new parents… of toddlers)

Congratulations! You’re the proud parent of a bouncing baby toddler. This is not a “summer tips for new parents” list, this is a “summer tips for new parents of toddlers” list. Whole new ballgame. There may have been a time (last year) when you thought it was a lot of work to go somewhere in the summer. Let’s say you’re meeting friends at the beach. Not only do you need your personal beach essentials, you also need your diaper bag, baby beach stuff, AND the infant in the clunky bucket seat. Almost easier to stay home, right? Nah, you got this. Armed with innocence and a healthy dose of what I like to call “crazy sleep,” you’re ready to visit to big, brave world.

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HAHAHAHA remember when we thought it was hard to bring you places?!

Besides, it only gets worse from here.

It’s a brand new summer, and your tiny, well-contained child is now a toddler. He runs. He demands. He takes off his pants at inopportune times to announce things like “I pee on the floor!”

And yet.

You carried this child for nine months. You survived the period of crazy sleep (or you’re still in it; kudos). You brought this child, as a red-faced, round-the-clock-nursing infant to parties, church services, weddings, libraries, everywhere! Surely you can handle him as a summer toddler!

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“Now pose nicely with your auntie! Aren’t we having fun?” “No.”

You can now! With these FIVE, LIFE CHANGING (ok, maybe not) tips…

1.) Repeat after me: “I have the power. I have the power. I have the power.”

Toddlers are amazing at sucking all of the confidence out of a room. If you don’t adopt this as your mantra, you’ll be spending your summer watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and eating goldfish from the bag. Who has the power?! Not the two year old, don’t fall into this trap.

2.) Always travel with at least six pairs of toddler socks. 

Your precious bundle of tiny human may be in sandals or barefoot all summer, but should you want to visit any bounce house/indoor play place, get some socks on that kid. Otherwise, you risk being turned away by the bounce house keeper, and this is a surefire way to bring on your child’s wrath.

3.) Two words: spray sunscreen.

Oh, it’s toxic and causes food allergies and cancer? If you think your toddler will stay still long enough for you to rub hard clay all over his exposed skin, you are wrong. Spray in his general direction and hope for the best. (Real tip: I do use spray sunscreen, but I spray it in my hands to apply on my child’s face/neck. He doesn’t risk inhaling sunscreen, and I’m in and out of there in about sixty seconds.)

4.) Always pack an extra pair of shorts. 

Because he’ll need a change after he’s pulled his first pair down and peed on them.

5.) Go.

So your small tyrant may have a meltdown. They may spend every second you’re away trying to escape from your line of sight. They may cry, yell “don’t hit me!!!!” when no one is near them, announce their undying love for their own private parts, refuse to wave at friends, wave exclusively at strangers, or anything else their little minds concoct, but mamas? Go. Don’t live inside and in fear of what could be this summer. Go and do and live.

And remember all of the embarrassing things your kids do so you can remind them about it at their wedding.

field trip fridays (& some review)

Happy Summer!

We have finished the school year, so that means Boone is officially a first grader (YIKES). Jonah’s officially very two, which has nothing to do with the fact that school is done. It does explain why he’s frequently covered in food and/or without pants.

We kicked off summer in the purest, most innocent way possible… Boone had the stomach flu. Thankfully it truly was a “24 hour bug,” and he hasn’t been so kind as to share it with anyone else.

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Ah yes Jonah, a yogurt hair mask. How very pinteresty of you.

So our very first masterchef monday got off to somewhat of a rough start, as the chef-in-training was down for the count. He requested “goldfish and gatorade” for breakfast (which he barely touched), so we definitely weren’t going to push any sort of food prep. He drifted in and out of sleep and The Legend of Zelda on the couch. I was somehow able to convince him to do a math worksheet (“I’m really good at math, mama, even when I’m sick” — at least he’s modest), and he made his own breakfast today (fruit and yogurt parfait), so he’s certainly back on the upswing.

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Mathin’ it up on a messy summer counter.
boone parfait
Eat your heart out, Gordon Ramsay.

Today was our first tech-free tuesday, and I’m pleased (and slightly afraid of jinxing it) to say that it was fantastic! When Boone first woke up he said, “hey, while you make breakfast can I watch — OH! Nevermind, it’s tech-free Tuesday!” (Woohoo!)

tech free letter
Ink pen and notepad, my two trusty summer companions.

Jason was home so he and Boone had some one-on-one fun time which surely helped. I mentioned in an earlier post that Boone would have “screen time cards” to earn and use for screen time in the summer (with the exception of Tuesdays, of course). Boone decided these cards should absolutely be in the shape of rupees from the video game The Legend of Zelda. Thanks to Jason’s fantastic dad skills, Boone got his wish today.

jason rupees
Painting some rupee-shaped screen time cards, like ya do.
rupees
Not completely finished, but getting there.

If you’re a Zelda fan, you may enjoy knowing that the colors of these rupees correspond with the amounts they are worth on Skyward Sword. Blue are worth five minutes, red are worth twenty minutes, and there is one special silver rupee worth one hundred minutes that will be hidden away until mama has a really bad day.

(For real.)

If you’re not a Zelda fan, you’re welcome for that insight into our nerdy little lives.

Tomorrow will be our first wacky wednesday, followed by our first thinking thursday, which will bring us to the LAST POST in this premeditated summer series:

FIELD TRIP FRIDAYS!

I’m going to be honest here; I’m not going to print any specific worksheets for Fridays (or the weekends) and they are precisely as the name implies: days for field trips. Sometimes these trips will be very close to home and very simple:

The beach (we’re five minutes from Lake MI, so this is a no-brainer)
Splash Pads
The outdoor pool at our gym
Local trails, parks
The mall (because sometimes it’s gonna rain)
The children’s museum
The zoo
The Critter Barn
Dutch Village (what, you don’t have a Dutch-themed amusement park in your town? Too bad.)

Some of these trips will require a little bit of planning (and prayers no one gets sick)

Train ride to Chicago
Michigan’s Adventure
Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland (because who doesn’t LOVE Christmas in summer?!)
Sea Life Aquarium
Binder Park Zoo

We might think of more, but that’s what we’re starting with anyway. And yes, of course, we might go on “field trips” when it isn’t Friday. We might watch a movie on a Tuesday sometime. We may abandon all the plans at the end of July when we’re all hot and sweaty and sick of each other…

…but hopefully not.

Thanks for reading this series — feel free to pass it along! I’ll be back next week with the normal observations/humor/nerd jokes/life stuff.