It’s July. I have two rambunctious boys at home all day. I also have a very mobile ten-month-old baby girl who hates to be confined and gets into EVERYthing. So, in honor of all the parents out there, holding down their forts this summer, trying to stay sane, here is my ‘Christmas in July’ list of the 12 Pains of Summer.
#1: Dishes, dishes, dishes! Like amnesia patients, my children constantly get new cups of water without finishing their first one. They put weird stuff in bowls, like a whole apple, or one pretzel, then they throw the bowl in the sink like it’s dirty! And the spoons, so many spoons. One spoon to stir their chocolate milk, another to eat their cereal. Our poor dishwasher needs a vacation.
#2: Never-ending laundry. Season three of Stranger Things has everyone singing “Never ending sto-ryyyy”, but I’m over here with three kids singing “never ending laun-dryyyy“. When my boys were at summer camp all day the washing machine never stopped running. They would go through two or three outfits a day plus a bathing suit and towel. By the second day of camp, they were out of clean shorts. Though I love that my kids spend more time outside in the summer, I’m not loving the extra loads of laundry.
#3: Daily showers. Now don’t judge me, but most of the year my kids only bathe a few times a week. They just don’t get that dirty sitting at school all day! And to be honest, getting three kids clean is kind of a pain. The baby does get a bath most evenings as she spends all day being a human Roomba. But my boys, who are old enough to do their own showers now (doesn’t mean they always do a good job), are the ones I just don’t wrangle into the shower each night. But come summer, daily showers are a priority! These boys stink! Big, sweaty, smelly boy stink. Plus, the ticks have been horrible this year, so I’m adamant we check each night in the shower for any creepy crawlers. And that means more towels getting used, thus adding to the never-ending laun-dryyyy.
#4: Arguing. So much arguing. Some days it starts even before they come downstairs; “Luke! Why didn’t you turn the bathroom light off??” . . . “James! Stop talking, I’m still trying to sleep!” They even argue about arguing. “I’m not arguing with you” . . . “Yes you are!” They’re worse than an old married couple.
#5: Playing chauffeur. Driving to summer camps, play dates, birthday parties, and gobs of other activities to get us out of the house, means lots of time in our minivan. Now honestly, I don’t always hate this. My boys have lots of ways to entertain themselves in the car, which they do for a while. Our baby is pretty good in the car too, as I imagine most younger siblings are. But by the end of the day, we are all sick of being in the same vehicle together. My husband thinks I’m nuts when I jump at the chance to drive anywhere by myself!
#6: Screen time battles. Yes, we spend time outside. Yes, we craft, play music, dance, and build giant Lego sets together. Yes, we read and read and read. But then it’s only maybe ten o’clock in the morning and I’ve run out of ideas. Watching TV and playing video games can take over our whole day if I allowed it. But I try not to. I schedule specific ‘TV Time’, and ‘Video Game Days’ so the kids know they can’t just go veg-out any time they please. But it really is a battle sticking to allocated timeframes, and I don’t mean just for the kids. It’s a battle for me to turn off their screens when I’m enjoying some distraction-free time on my own, being productive. But then I remember how fast summer (and life) goes by, and that puts everything back in perspective.
#7) Crazy messy house. Some days it looks like a tornado blew through our living room. Cushions piled high, blankets stretched into forts, nerf darts in every corner and crevice. Various capes, masks and swords are strewn about. And the baby is no help. With her crawling all over the house, sometimes I find fridge magnets in her bedroom, or the boys’ shoes in the pantry. There isn’t enough time in the day to pick-up after three kids in the summer. Thankfully, we have a house cleaner that comes every other week which means we’re forced to tidy up the ‘tornado’ aftermath in preparation for her coming. With a wink in my direction, she’s told the kids if they don’t help mommy pick-up all their toys and Lego pieces, then she’s going to vacuum them up. Thanks Miss Maria, you’ve got my back.
#8) Sunscreen. Our family never tans. We are either pale as can be, or sunburnt. And since no one’s trying to get skin cancer around here, I’m extra generous with the sunscreen, to my kid’s dismay. It’s like wrestling slippery alligators getting all three lathered up for an hour at the pool, but it’s worth it!
#9) Snacks, snacks, and more snacks. An hour after breakfast: “can I have a snack?”. Ten minutes after throwing away a half-eaten sandwich for lunch: “can I have a snack?”. Thirty minutes before dinner: “can I have a snack?” As I’m turning off their lights at night: “sure wish I had a snack…”
#10) Late nights. With the sun staying out until almost nine o’clock at night, it’s difficult sticking to a 7:30pm bedtime. And I actually enjoy being outside in the evening with my kids. The sun isn’t so hot, the fireflies are lighting up the yard, the bats are coming out and the crickets are chirping. But once everyone gets to bed, that doesn’t leave much time for us grown-ups. My husband and I pop in a movie and end up falling asleep before the previews are even over.
#11) Junk food. What is it about summer that entices us to binge on ice cream, sno-cones, candy and popcorn? Maybe it’s the hope our children will ultimately burn off all that sugar running around outside? Or the allure of fairs and carnivals that hand out those goodies everywhere you turn? Or the excuse that it’s summertime, we deserve extra treats. Whatever it is, our house goes through a detox period come September!
#12) It goes by too fast. Despite my complaining, my biggest gripe is that summer goes by too fast. I truly love having all my children home most of the day, soaking in their smiles and laughter. Sure, there are struggles, but overall, I wouldn’t trade a second of these ’12 pains of summer’!
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, has two sons, and baby daughter. Click here to read more of her Mommy Daze blogs.