Taking the pressure out of summer

School’s out in about a month and that means we’ll have a little more than two months of summer stretching before us — a blank calendar without too many possibilities.

Scenes from last summer — where we got it *almost* right.

It’s not just that there isn’t elementary school or preschool to keep us busy. There also isn’t our weekly ballet class and taekwondo class. There are many, many empty hours to fill, so it’s understandable that a lot of families rush to fill them up.

It used to be us, too, because we thought that’s just what you were supposed to do. Except my husband does shift work that keeps him out of the house most evenings, so the schlepping around to activities was left to me. (Along with working from home, of course.)

The first summer of soccer wasn’t too bad, since it was only one night a week. I swatted at the bugs and chased our daughter while our son played. It was when we got into T-ball territory — two nights a week — that I felt my sanity start to wither.

I was co-assistant coaching (that’s a mouthful) and trading off wrangling the little sisters. While it was cute to watch our son play, it was frustrating dragging two children to a dusty field when they both just wanted to stay home.

Last summer, I decided I didn’t want us to do T-ball or soccer and neither of the kids noticed or cared. They went to day camp some mornings while I worked and afternoons were spent at home or at a park.

But while the evenings were sport-free, they weren’t commitment-free. I’d bought a family membership to a local outdoor pool with the idea that we’d meet up with friends for nightly swims. Surely it would be better than the kids and I being home alone every evening, I thought optimistically. But since it made sense to go enough to justify the cost of the pass, I felt pressured to go on evenings when I really didn’t feel like swimming.

I didn’t count on the fact that we’d never seem to see our friends there much, as they’d either go later or on different nights entirely. It was mostly just me and the two kids, alone in a pool of strangers, wondering if anyone we knew was going to show up …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene …

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