I live in a special part of Northwest Indiana where the winters are long, the cold, brutal and piercing.
I firmly believe that my house gets more snow each year than any other house in my town, and each year, I take a picture of my yard stick in the snow to prove it.
This extreme climate forces me deep inside my home, buried inside blankets and puzzles and books and arts & crafts with my children, which is quite literally all fun and games…for about 2 weeks - at which point I freak out. To keep myself from climbing the walls and killing my children, I start planning all the wonderful things we’ll do if the ice ever thaws, if the snow ever melts, if the sun ever shines again.
Summer, oh glorious, summer!
No schedule, sleeping in, popsicles for breakfast, and ice cream for dinner! We’ll swim all day and catch fireflies and be carefree!
Or will we?
Maybe we’ll sign up for art camp and soccer camp, swim lessons and golf lessons, plan one vacation, three long weekend trips, and throw in a trip to the beach, the zoo, the water park, and a playdate each week for each child. The temptation to compensate for winter’s forcing us inside by overscheduling our summers is very real.
Pinterest and overachieving mommy blogs fuel our need to make THIS summer THE perfect summer, to do all the things we swore we’d do, to have all the fun we’ve been missing out on. And before we know it, the school supplies hit the shelves, and we find ourselves having done little more than look at our color-coordinated calendar to find out where we’re driving the van next.
And by we, I mean me.
I fall prey to the “all or nothing” mentality. If I’m going to do something, I want to do it big and glorious and perfect. (And please don’t forget color-coordinated.)
And summer is just another Pinterest board waiting to be pinned full of perfectly scheduled fun.
Only this summer I said no.
No to the running around, no to the being places at a certain time, no to anyone else’s schedule but ours. I didn’t make a list, a chart, or a bar graph. Instead, I asked my 5-year-old to make a “to do” list, and we’ve slowly worked out way through it by checking off activities such as “bug hunt” and “dig” and “fish.”
I signed him up for an 8 day art camp, totalling all of 8 hours, out of guilt, really, and fear that if I didn’t sign him up for something, he’d be bored or resentful or hate me when he was older. We’re 4 days in, and I have yet to see any signs that I’ve saved him from future therapy sessions or helped foster his inner artist.
And yes, I’ve resented that we had to be somewhere at a certain time.
As my children get older and head off to school, I wonder what our schedules will be like. I have loved being a stay-at-home mother with my stay-at-home children. Now that I have started my own business and am working outside of the home some and that my oldest will be gone 5 days a week, I know our lives are changing.
But to be honest, if I can keep from it, I want to keep the running to a minimum.
I want a full life, but not a chaotic life.
I’m hoping to carry a bit of this summer with us, whatever the season may be.
Brandi Lee is a stay-at-home mother of two boys by day and recently turned working mom and photographer on nights and weekends, or whenever her children are asleep or not looking. Her life B.C. (before children) gave her fulfillment as a high school English teacher, and she finds that photography fills that same place in her heart, one of personal connections with people. Her ultimate goal is to balance work with family time, to be both a provider and nurturer, but she would settle for a trip to the bathroom by herself and an uninterrupted train of thought. Brandi's visual storytelling can be viewed at Balee Images and a monthly guest author at Parenting Without A Parachute.