Summer vacation is here, and I must admit that I enjoy it so much more than I used to when my kids were little. Sure, I miss the days of them running around naked in the sprinkler and all. It was fun and we created some amazing memories, but I was so exhausted all the time — not to mention dirty.
There are so many reasons to love summer even more now:
My children are finally old enough that we can read some of the same books and discuss them. Also, it’s awesome not to have to read the same story aloud 50 times each night. They can read to themselves. Sometimes at night we will all be lying in our own beds, lamps on, quietly reading. I’ll hear a page turn, a yawn, the click of their lamp. It is so peaceful.
Instead of wiping poopy butts and snotty noses, I am now showing my daughter how to shave her legs and my son how to shave his mustache. They dress themselves, as they have for a while, but now they ask my opinions on their outfits. We have deep talks about relationships, and I feel like they hear me. It is nice to say how I really feel and have them understand me on a deeper level.
No More Playground
Thank goodness I no longer have to sit for hours at the scorching hot playground — these days my kids are off riding their bikes with their friends. Not that I minded the playground so terribly much, but, especially during the summer, I’d rather be sitting and reading my book or checking my phone on my own front porch. The best part of this scenario is that, even though they’ve been unleashed into the neighborhood, I can still hear my kids’ infectious peels of laughter ringing out over the rooftops. And, bonus: They’re getting exercise.
My kids can finally apply their own sunscreen and pack their own lunches for the beach. They know how to dry themselves off and don’t freak out when they end up covered head to toe in sand. They are strong swimmers now too, which is a huge relief. Finally, after years of hypervigilance, I can relax and take a dip without worrying someone will drown.
They sleep in, which means I can sleep in too, or go for a long run before they even wake up. I usually go for a run, something I never thought I would do when they were younger. Just hearing the word “run” made me tired. But now that they’re older, I have so much more energy (maybe because I’m no longer chasing after mischievous, diaper-clad toddlers?), and I love being the first one up and tiptoeing out the door for some me-time.
We can stay up late at night together and binge watch our favorite movies and eat popcorn that they popped themselves. If I am too tired, I can just go to bed or fall asleep on the sofa and trust that everyone else is perfectly capable of putting themselves to bed. Most of the time they are the ones tucking me in.
But the very best thing about summertime with older kids is that I get to be with them. The school year is long, their activities take up a lot of extra time, and I miss them. During the summer, we get to slow down a little, relax the rules, and settle in to a new, unstructured routine that may or may not involve getting out of pajamas. And that, my friends, is my kind of summer.