All winter we pray for summer. We count down the days until we can shed the coats. And then the temperatures rise, and we wonder what we were so excited about.
After a few days in the ninety degree range, we feel overwhelmed with hot grumpy kids, a bazillion articles about how you must re-apply goopy sunscreen every 17 minutes, and another billion articles about how the sunscreen you are using is probably causing irreversible damage to your kids. We buy popsicles as a treat, then our social media feed is filled with how terrible food dye is. We try to balance the big kids who want to swing all day with the baby who is so bald he will certainly get sun poisoning on his head. And we're not sure summer is living up to its billing.
Here's the thing--no season with little kids is perfect. In fact, each season has its own magic. But I believe there really is something special about summertime. As we shed our extra clothes and coats (that must be removed before the car seat is buckled), we are invited to shed some of our rigidness as well. Summer is a time to slow down a beat; to be open to the unexpected; to bend the rules a bit to allow for extra fun. Summer brings unplanned adventures, a few too many sweets, dirty clothes, dirty fingernails, and insane amounts of laundry. Don't get me wrong--our family thrives on a schedule--but summer seems to grant permission to push bedtime a little later some days in favor of a creek walk after dinner or a few extra minutes on the play set.
When I think back to childhood, some of my most vivid memories are from the summer. Playing in the rain. Spending whole days at the pool with friends. Exploring the woods behind our house for countless hours. And when I slow down a bit and pull my head out of my checklist, I can already see my kids collecting their own summer memories. Getting caught in a summer storm with little friends. An afternoon with a blow up water slide and popsicles and besties. Twirling in the yard with crete paper banners. Going on a last minute hiking adventure.
So as we march towards the warmest days of the years, let's not fool ourselves--there will be whining and fussing and babies falling asleep in the carseat despite your best efforts to keep them awake and salvage their naps. But there will also be sweet, sweet memories made. Chasing ladybugs. Playing in the sprinkler. Sharing ice cream. Let's slow down enough to allow summer to work its magic.