Summer Survival Skills

The end of school is near. The dawn of long summer days beckons in the distance, with its crickets and somewhat cool nights. Sleeping in and staying up late. No plans, no rules. 

In other words, the beginning of the Summer Parenting Gauntlet.

It’s difficult enough on weekends to wrangle the kids, much like trying to get 10 puppies in one basket to sleep. And while they don’t yet fully understand the joy of what summer vacation brings, they are both excited that warmer days mean playing outside with the sprinkler, eating popsicles, and not wearing a uniform.

Like I do with everything else, I have some delusions of grandeur ideas to create some lazy summer fun. Lazy because I’m exhausted just thinking of herding my whirling dervishes into the car, tote full of snacks and supplies, and trying to “have fun” in public. Behold, my plans:

Summer Garden

I dream of a productive garden, of spending my time with herbs and veggies, of my kids exploring their love of dirt and not just eating all the things as they grow (ALL THE THINGS). Aside from the tomatoes, which don’t last long on the vine, here are some easy things to cultivate with kids that are wildly popular:

Mint—I currently have spearmint, pineapple mint, and chocolate mint (it smells exactly like you think it does). Easy to grow in Texas, and easy to find at the grocery store or local hardware supplier. There’s so much you can do with mint, though it’s also just fun to grab a couple of leaves and chew on them. Tip: Grow it in a pot; this plant will turn into your own Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors if unchecked.

Blackberries—There are many thorn-less varieties that thrive in these parts. We have an Arapaho happily growing under our peach tree and spreading it’s roots throughout the side yard. They taste amazing, and the kids love to check on it (which means I have to check before they do if I want some goodness of my own). If you have an area that drains well, your blackberry will love it. Otherwise, raised beds work nicely.

CucumbersThe easiest way to get your cucumbers growing up is to plant them in cages, the same ones you use to cage your tomatoes. Basically, there are two types of cucumbers: slicing and pickling. The slicing types mature when they reach six to eight inches long. They are ideal for fresh use in salads and vegetable trays. They can also be sliced and preserved as bread and butter pickles but are not a good choice for making whole pickles.

Behold, my survival recipes:

For the small set:

  • Popsicles
  • Fruit water—Combine a handful of each in a gallon pitcher of water and refrigerate overnight. Perfect refresher while playing outdoors the next day.

Food

Part of the summer is just me and the kids as the spouse travels for a TDY upstate. To make things easier for dinner, I use a meal delivery service for part of the week, like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. Now that we have UBEReats in the area, I plan on adding more to the rotation.

Can’t forget groceries, though. I haven’t fully succumbed to Instacart because I still need to leave the house now and then, but I do love the curbside options that H-E-B. and Walmart offer. (Did you know the W has a super gluten-free selection?)

Being the masochist that I am, I’m hoping to have some indoor cooking time with the kids. On my library list: 

Entertainment

If you haven’t gathered from the above, I’m happier at home (because less packing of stuff to go anywhere with kids, navigating the bad drivers, etc., etc.). Redbox, SAPL movies, and internet streaming will make for our viewing entertainment. Depending on the mosquito situations each night, I may take a tablet outside for “Movies in the Yard,” along with my wireless speaker. And there’s always music.

Water playtime will round out much of our outdoor fun, with sprinklers, water balloons, bubbles, and watercolor painting. If we get a cloudy day (which the Almanac says may happen for most of June), we’ll take the wagon through the neighborhood and green spaces for a nature hunt.

Also, lemonade making. Outdoors. Because mess. I love going to Chicho Brothers for bulk produce and love feeding the kids outdoors because mess.

Taking my kids to wreck public spaces is a year-round pastime.

Social

(Picture me sitting in my desk chair, head tossed back with my arm over my eyes. Wait—here’s a picture.)

This requires emotional energy and physical energy. I have, thankfully, created friendships with other like-minded women, and some of them have pools. If this is you, please invite me over. I’ll bring snacks and drinks. I even made a playlist on Spotify. We can sit while the kids play, and we don’t have to talk. Or, we can talk about things that don’t involve kids and summer. Because we need it. (Text me; I have phone anxiety.)

I know I’ll have to give in and take the girls to The DoSeum at some point and the Y for swim lessons/library time. Just thinking about leaving the house with my mighty girls gives me some anxiety, but we can’t be hermits.

Can’t forget airing us all out at Regal Cinemas and Santikos for their free movies (BYO Wine Scarf).

As a home-based business owner, I built in time for work by having the kids do “summer camp” at their existing school for a couple of weeks at a time. So the home weeks will be packed until exhaustion, and camp weeks will be busy after 2:00 P.M. And depending on my client load, there will be days where I will hand off the kids and ghost out for either alone time or friend time (now looking to fill positions), and the occasional date night with the spousal unit. 

I feel (self-imposed) pressure to make time off from school fun and memorable, though I know this means more planning and stress for me. It will be OK. I will come out the other end of summer alive, with lessons learned. Please, Spirits of Summer, let me have greater patience as the days are longer. And let me laugh with them every day.

I will survive this summer. 

You will survive this summer.

We will survive. Together.

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