4 Things I Won't Do This Summer

by Christine Burke
summer vacation
Link Hoang / Unsplash

Spring is here, and we’ve survived another brutal winter. Trees are blooming, and we are taking off our socks to investigate just how bad our toenails will look in flip-flops. Kids are getting restless in classrooms, and we’ve long since stopped caring if homework is checked or if lunches are healthy.

We all have our eyes on the prize: summer vacation.

Ah, yes. Summer vacation. That magical time where the kids are underfoot 24/7 and when the refrigerator never seems to hold enough popsicles. The days get longer, the cocktails get fruitier and the battles over sunscreen application are drawn. The days of summer usher in a near constant feeling of pressure to provide fun activities for our cherubs and the notion that warm sunshine means picture-perfect moments at beaches and parks across the country.

We are bombarded with online lists on everything from how to make the perfect mojito to 101 places you must take your children in the month of June. Everywhere you look, stores are taunting you with the promise of lasting memories if you purchase that gargantuan jump house or massive slip and slide. Moms one-up each other with how many enrichment camps they’ve enrolled their precious snowflakes in, and your Facebook feed is filled with friends smiling on better vacations than you’ll ever be able to afford.

Summer reading lists. Endless BBQ invitations. Swim parties. Family reunions. Suddenly, that prize doesn’t look as enticing as it did in the spring. Summer is exhausting, especially for moms, and it’s not the least bit relaxing.

I’m calling bullshit, ladies and gents.

I’m taking back my summer vacation. I want actual relaxation. Real fun. I want a slower-paced, less stressful existence during the days I don’t have to get up early and make lunches. Those mojitos and margaritas should be savored and nights by the fire pit should linger long into the evening. But how, you ask?

Luckily for you, I have some ideas. Spoiler alert: If you are looking for a list that includes “spend more time with the kids” or “put down your phone,” you can stop reading right now. This is not that list.

1. I won’t limit screen time—for myself.

So much is written about how we need to unplug, and I understand that to a degree, I do. But I run an internet-based business and freelancing requires me to field emails throughout my day. I actually have to face a computer to get my job done, and thanks to modern technology, I can write a post at the pool, the beach, or the park. Go ahead, give me the stink eye when you see me scrolling through my emails as my kids frolic. Make a snarky comment if you need when you see me whip out my laptop while my kids splash at the pool. But, as you are judging me for seemingly being disconnected from my kids, I’m actually helping fund their snack habit. And, yes, I’m checking Facebook too. Shut up.

2. I won’t skip my exercise routine.

When my kids are in school, I am a workout beast. Runs with my girlfriends and trips to spin class are a much-needed social and physical workout. Why should that come to a grinding halt when school lets out? This summer, my kids will be found waiting poolside as I swim laps before they free swim or riding their bikes next to me as I run off last night’s pinot grigio. My kids need to see me modeling healthy behaviors and will have to wait a few extra minutes in their day for me to drive them off to the park. My sanity comes first this summer, kids, sorry.

3. I won’t plan every single minute.

For so many summers, I have researched, planned, and executed summer entertainment plans with military-style precision. Every activity has been planned down to the minute, to the very last goldfish snack. As we’ve arrived at our destinations, I’ve been grumpy before the fun even started. I’ve spent the day micromanaging this mirage of perfection, trying to capture that magical Facebook moment that says, “Our summer is perfect.” This year, we will have afternoons with nothing to do but curl up on a lounge chair and read a book. I’m taking a break from the art of being busy. I’m going to let my kids get “bored” and figure out their own entertainment. That’s the real lost art, I daresay.

4. I won’t spend a wad on summer camps.

Every March, I start the hunt for the perfect camps and summer classes to enrich and stimulate my kids. What actually winds up happening is that we have to get up ungodly early, coordinate complicated carpools, and drive all over creation to get to the camps on time. And, just as soon as I’ve dropped them off, it’s time to pick them up already. It’s exhausting, and you know what, my kids spend more time talking about the times we skipped rocks at a local creek than they do about the fantastically expensive camps I’ve bent over backward to get them to. So, this summer will be more skipping rocks and less shelling out cash. And if their brains fall out of their heads because they didn’t go to Space Camp this summer, so be it.

My list may seem selfish to some, but for me, it’s survival. My kids deserve to have a mother who is relaxed during that wonderful time of year when we don’t have to worry about school projects, PTA meetings, and soccer practice. And if someone is going to judge me for putting myself first in order to ensure I’m at my best to care for my kids, they won’t be hanging with me and my margarita on my patio. Sucks to be them.