How My Carefully Planned Summer Vacation Fell Apart

by Hannah Mayer
Originally Published: 
summer vacation
Funny Solution Studio / Shutterstock

Dear Diary,

Yay! My kids are out of school, and summer break is in full swing. Ten whole weeks without alarm clocks, homework meltdowns, and chasing the bus down the street clutching a forgotten lunch box with nothing between me and the brisk morning air but an unsupportive bathrobe and a fine layer of neglected leg hair.

RELATED: Get A Pool Alarm To Help Keep Your Family (And Pets!) Extra Safe

We’re going old school this summer vacation — no TVs, no tablets, no phones — just me and my kids and a minivan that knows no boundaries. I’ve spent weeks carefully planning our days, devouring Pinterest in search of creative ways to ensure each day is packed with summer cheer.

Pinterest suggested keeping a summer journal because these precious moments with the kids fly by so quickly. And I agree. For whatever reason, my mind has completely blacked-out all memories from previous summers — sort of like the way people describe the moments before a car accident or being chased by a killer with a chainsaw.

Week 1

This week we went to the zoo, joining 99% of the population in search of the best summer ever. We were herded in like cattle from the parking lot, stroller to stroller, bottlenecking in the gift shop (intentionally — it is the only spot within a 200-acre radius with air conditioning so we dawdled), squinting as we flooded out the other side into a sensory explosion of monkey manure and scorching sun.

“What a great day for the zoo!” I exclaimed to the woman next to me, a little more enthusiastically than intended. “I’m so happy summer is finally here!”

“Yeah!” She agreed, her teeth bared a little too much for someone who is actually happy.

Week 2

Of the 90 ideas I found on Pinterest, all but a small handful were vetoed by my kids. I was shocked. I mean, who wouldn’t want to create and perform a West Side Story puppet show, form a foot rub chain, or go on a walking tour of the local light bulb factory? My kids wouldn’t know fun if it smacked them in the face. Back to the drawing board.

Week 3

Officially out of Pinterest ideas. In light of the circumstances, I’ve made the decision to reverse my ban on electronics. It’s just…well…I just need a moment to myself to collect my thoughts and now I need to figure out some more activities. Perhaps most important, though, is that electronics offer a brief but necessary reprieve from the nonstop fighting. My god it’s almost like they enjoy torturing me with it! Also I picked up smoking. Good thing we’re going on vacation next week!

Week 4

You know, the word “vacation” had a completely different meaning before kids. In fact, “vacation” is a lie. Traveling with kids should be called a “trip,” “hell” or “HEY HONEY, HOW ABOUT SINCE I DID ALL THE PLANNING, SHOPPING, AND PACKING CAN YOU GET OUT OF YOUR BEACH CHAIR LONG ENOUGH TO HELP ME PUT UP THIS UMBRELLA? NO, I’M NOT ON MY PERIOD WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO GO THERE?!”

Week 5

The kids have turned against me. It’s become a game for my family to find creative ways to make me snap. Catalysts include: telling me over and over how bored they are and then methodically shooting down each and every idea I provide, standing in front of the full refrigerator while complaining there’s nothing to eat and screaming, “Mommy’s pooping!” out the window at my neighbors as they walk their dogs.

Week 6

OMG, I had the best idea ever…two weeks of sleepaway camp! I used to love it as a kid. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Of course this late in the summer all the good ones were full so I jumped on the only one still available — circus camp. At least I think it was camp. The kids all had to fill out W-2s before they were allowed to start grooming the yak woman.

Week 7

I miss my kids — two weeks was too long! I can’t wait to kiss their sweet little faces. What was so bad about summer anyway?

Week 8

My kids are spawns of Satan. When my sisters and I were kids, my mom used to drive us to the pool for our 9 a.m. swimming lesson. Once we arrived, she would hand us $1 to buy a candy bar and a Coke for lunch and another quarter to call her when the pool closed at 6. If we tried to call before then she would pick up the phone and simply say, “Is there blood? No? Then I’ll be there at 6.” And hung up. I used to look back and think she was crazy; now I think she should run for president.

Week 9

*stares catatonically at calendar*

Week 10

I did it! The finish line. This week I took the kids shopping for school supplies, and it felt like Christmas Day. Parents everywhere filing into big box stores finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, through glazed eyes and with slightly hunched backs we grin from ear to ear comparing prices on loose leaf. I glanced up and saw the woman from the zoo.

“We did it,” she whispered, tearing up, grabbing me by the shoulders and giving me a little shake. “We made it through.”

“I know,” I said, wiping my own tears. “Wanna come over next week and do a West Side Story puppet show? I’ve got all the stuff.”

This article was originally published on