The Busy Season

Summer: the stay-at-home parent’s busy season. Long days, warm nights, swimming pools and splash pads, playdates and summer camps, vacations and family outings. Summer requires a lot of planning.

2016-05-31 07.04.54When you go grocery shopping, your entire herd goes with you. There’s no quick Target run while the kids are in school or mom coffee date with just the baby in tow. You’ve got all of your minions all day long, every day.

This is great because you love your kids. The extra time to focus on appreciating them, experiencing summer fun through their awestruck eyes, stockpiling the new experiences, and revisiting family traditions… it’s magical. All of that magic doesn’t happen on its own though.

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Months of planning, researching, budgeting, and form-completing goes into making a summer great. Getting the right balance of vacation, relaxation, and scheduling takes effort.

Amidst all of this well-planned fun, your to-do list is ever-growing: schedule playdates with friends the school year holds hostage, pack and unpack suitcases and day trip bags, buy tickets and passes for destinations and summer events, scour websites for family activities, get medical forms completed for camps and the eventual school year, ensure bathing suits fit and flip flops are functional, buy cart loads of sunscreen and bugspray, stock up on Band-Aids. Meanwhile, all of your usual chores — from dishes to laundry, from sweeping to bathroom tidying, from grocery shopping to meal preparation — amplify with all of the extra sweaty, chlorinated, sun-baked, snack-obsessed bodies constantly milling about.

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The extra family time. The opportunity to be with your children, to soak them in. The countless memories. The sun and salt and sand. Summer is wonderful! It’s also a crapload of work.

Here’s to you, stay-at-home parents! Enjoy it. Savor it. Survive it.

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Mean Mommy

I am the hard-ass. I make the rules. I dole out the punishments. I say, “no”, “be gentle”, “say ‘excuse me'”, and “are we being friendly?” countless times daily. I ensure vegetables eaten and hands are scrubbed, manners are remembered, and squabbles are settled.

I also arrange the playdates, ensure we do fun activities outside of the house twice daily, keep the calendar stimulating, manage camp registration and extracurricular sign-ups, plan the parties, and scope out family activities. I make the fun stuff happen but that is thankless work, the stuff of elves and magic wands.

I’m ok with that. It’s not credit I’m after but the outcome. You don’t beccome a stay-at-home-mom for the glitz, glory, and benefits.

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I know that being “mean mommy” indicates I’m caring enough about my children and their future to suck it up and do the undesirable, unglamorous, necessary part of parenting. As the primary caretaker, I consider it a method of self-preservation to have the kids see me clearly as a loving authority figure. If I had to wait until my husband was available or defer to him for every infraction or, worse yet, have my authority questioned without his immediate backing, my days would be disastrous.

That said, there’s a trade-off. Mommy is “The Enforcer” which means Daddy is “Fun.” Full disclosure, that part sucks. It just does. I mean, I want to be taken seriously but I’d also like to be picked first for tickle fights and fort-building. I’d love for the littles I birthed and cherish to glow with excitement when I walk through the door, to want to run any errand with me, no matter how dull, because it means being in my fun-filled company, to consider me top choice for preschool pick-up and drop-off. Instead, I get correctional enforcement, nutritional policing, toilet duty, and skirmish negotiations.

However, there’s one job I wold never rebuff: healing. When karma bit you, when you scraped your knee, bruised your ego, caught a stomach bug, or you just need a hug: “Moooom!” Daddy is fun; Mommy makes it better. Sometimes, being Mom has its perks.

Comforting #2 at the beach

Comforting #2 at the beach