Summer Lessons: What We Learned
August 21, 2015
We're just a few days away from the first day of school. It feels like school just ended; it also feels like forever ago. Summer went by so fast - too fast for many of us.
While summer is still hanging on, we asked some of the friends and family of Parent.co to share what they learned over the past few months.
We could all use a little more free-range fun.
As a full-time working parent (with a full-time working husband), I was quick to schedule my kid into camps most every week. He seemed to enjoy all of the camps but loved his time at the lake with his grandparents and farm camp (whittling sticks, playing with animals, exploring with friends) best. Next year, with two school-aged kids, I plan to intersperse some weeks with a fun sitter to enable less structured play time and dates with friends.
I wish I could tell you that I learned something this summer… I mean, I could make something up.
Perhaps that’s the lesson: I already know a whole lot about how this parenting thing works. I know that time will pass much faster than I anticipate; I know that there will be 100 things left on my “to do” list at the end of the summer/week/day; I know that my kids will eat burgers, hot dogs and creemees for every meal if I let them; and I know that every day I'll feel slightly nostalgic for the day that came before. So yeah, I suppose I didn’t learn a new lesson this summer, but the old one was reinforced: "Be present. Stay here while it’s happening because this is all that’s happening and all that matters."
Phew! Thanks for granting me the opportunity to realize that I know everything about everything.
The biggest lessons learned this summer are:
Read the rest of Laura's awesome list here.
- Honing my creemee game (I've got a five y/o sprinkle aficionado).
- Kids never need as much stuff planned as you think they do. Boredom is when the magic happens, especially outside.
- All meals should be eaten outside.
- Get in as many swims as possible, even if the sun is setting and you can only get one jump off the dock
- Swimming doubles as a bath.
- Cuts your plans in half; all the BBQs, hikes,, trips and parties are fun, but it's exhausting for kids. A quieter weekend that involves the farmer's market, bike ride, swimming, and grilling our dinner is pretty ideal.
One lesson I learned is that while summer is a carefree time for kids, it can be a stressful time for parents. I used to be a teacher, so I had summers off. Now I recognize the challenges that families with two working parents face in juggling the cost of summer care and inconsistent schedules. I'm curious how other families navigate this issue, especially families who come from low-income backgrounds.
Another lesson we learned as a family is that you don't have to travel far to have a summer adventure. This summer we tried a lot of new things right in our own neighborhoods like new hiking trails, swimming holes, campgrounds, parks, museums, and recreation spots like mini golf and roller skating.
- Not all sunscreen is created equally... some give kids rashes.
- Cousins from NYC are much more interested in the lake than a kid that sees it 3x per week.
- Camping with your 3yr old kid alone is not relaxing. It's best done with another family so the kids can play together to tire themselves out and you can sit and enjoy cocktails.
- A $20 pool from The Christmas Tree Shop got more use than any of the other more expensive crap we bought to entertain the kids.
- Owning your own $200 bounce house is miles better than renting one at $200 a pop.
- Sleepovers are much better when they happen at the other kids house.
- We learned that fishing is a great way to entertain two boys.
- Yes the water in Lake Champlain is still wet. Best swim of the summer is that one right before bed at gramma and grampa's house.
- Camping out is great family time. Best done with a friends family.
- Play hard during the day, get the kids to bed early so they can wake up early the next day and do it all over again.
- Some bugs sting. Even when you’re not messing with them. They’re just jerks.
- My children and I have differing opinions on what dirty feet look like and when washing them before bed is appropriate.
- Head Lice do not take summer vacations.
- Two wheelers go much faster (and are far less work) than tricycles.
- Everyone bikes farther when bribed with snacks.
The four-year-old will touch bugs so long as their name sounds cute. Butterflies, ladybugs, fireflies. Spiders can go straight to hell.
- Babies come out of “baginas.” (Just because it’s summer, we didn’t skimp on the big lessons.)
- “Nobody likes mosquitos. Not even mean people.”
- Puddle Jumpers are worth their weight in gold.
- Sometimes the day just calls for double ice cream.
- This was not a rebound year for the Red Sox.
- In a three-person family, the one person who hates AC always loses (me).
Car camping rules.
- Also, dad pack rules - some of my most-fun moments happened because of Dad Pack.
- This sounds corny, but truly the best thing I did this summer was sit outside at dusk with the kid and slowly watch the planets and stars light up, one by one. I was grateful to learn that she's as fascinated by the stars and constellations as I am.
- Here in Burlington VT, the best adventures are close to home. Why go anywhere else in the summer? Within 200 miles we have six or seven mountain ranges, the ocean, rivers of all sizes, lakes massive and small, towns and cities full of history and culture, thousands of acres of hiking trails, and millions of acres of green forest. This is the best place on Earth June - October.
- Here in New England, summer is like the last episode of the Sopranos: it meanders on and on, then it suddenly ends, BAM!
- This was my favorite summer yet. I was busy, spent most of my time at a desk or behind a wheel, didn't take much time off, didn't rake in a billion dollars. But somehow I found a way to enjoy the time I did spend on summer experiences. It was alchemy - just the right ingredients at just the right time.
- This isn't a lesson, but something that's true: September is the best month where I live, and fall always beats summer.