It’s the eve of our Memorial Day weekend family vacation and I have yet to finish laundry, dust off suitcases or even fill up the gas tank for the very long car ride. Our children still have price-tags on their swimsuits, the aloe vera has not been slathered on hot pink skin and we are all pale and in need of pedicures for sandal weather. How did this summer sneak up on me? How do most working mothers fit in summer?
Every year, I create a fantasy summer. I daydream in the summer seasonal section of Target, where I curate breezy scenarios of my children and I on a beach with bright beach towels, a picnic basket, throwing a beach ball, eating watermelon and drinking lemonade. I'm in a floppy hat of course.
Move onto the next fantasy, where we’re camping – keep in mind I’m a full face of makeup girl who shuts down without air conditioning, so this fantasy is the MOST unrealistic. We're eating s’mores and watching an outdoor movie from a make-shift movie theater I made using a sheet and a projector. Fantasy summer has no schedule, no emails, no meetings and no slacks.
But here’s the real life summer. I come home from work – sweaty, hot and tired. I frantically attempt something to feel like summer – hose in the backyard and freezer-burnt ice cream – but rush through dinner, bath time and bed time, then attempt to get through the news before my eyes become too heavy to make it through the next segment. I tell myself I’ll fit summer in somewhere that weekend, such as a trip to a farmer’s market or a cool drive-in movie. Or, better yet, just fill up the baby pool and call it good.
I want to, however, create childhood memories of summer while keeping my day job, and with the season being so fresh, I’ve yet to squash my summer fantasies completely. This year, I’m going to take the fantasies down a notch and make them a little more attainable.
So here's how I’m going to fit in summer this year in four easy steps.
First, I'll schedule vacations around long weekends where I already have a day off. This year, we’re taking two family vacations – one over Memorial Day weekend and the other over the Fourth of July. I'll save up on vacation days while still creating the traditional family bonding vacations – temper tantrums, fighting and crying are to be expected, of course.
Second, I'll consistently have summer food in the home so even on those days we aren’t fulfilling every summer fantasy, it can at least TASTE like summer. Summer tastes include a fully stocked freezer full of popsicles and plenty of pink lemonade, corn on the cob, hotdogs, hamburgers and watermelon for the next 10 weeks.
Third, we'll go to the pool a lot. We splurged this summer and decided to purchase a neighborhood pool membership. Even if I can’t make a family night at the College World Series, an outdoor concert a hydrant party or, well, any of the amazing summer activities in Omaha, I can gather my motley crew of a family, a few sandwiches and swim.
Finally, I’m going to let this summer be a blur. If we’re tired, then summer can wait a day until we’re ready to catch fireflies in the backyard and grill out. My favorite fantasy about summer is the idea of not having any rigid schedule, so why not actually put that into practice? Instead of attempting to fit in summer, just let summer be.
As for my eve of family vacation planning? Well, where we’re going, there are bound to be stores. I’m in a summer mindset after all.
Kristine Rohwer resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska, with her husband, step-son, daughter, son and two neurotic dogs.