Originally published on Motherly
By Chelsey Tobiason
Maybe I’m wacky. Maybe I’m old school. But, honestly, I am looking forward to a slow, meandering summer. With no big plans, without a ton of obligations, without rushing and stressing and planning.
I call myself a “lazy summer parent” but the word lazy often has a bad connotation — it implies lack of passion and movement. When I use this word I am trying to convey another meaning; one that encompasses un-scheduled, unbridled, carefree satisfaction. Lazy doesn’t mean unintentional. Lazy doesn’t mean that I don’t care.
I keep hearing other parents say that they are dreading summer. A friend was telling me about all of the camps that she has planned for her kids and when she asked me what we were doing I simply replied, “Summer?”
Every family is different — and we all have to do what works best for us. For all of you parents who are making mad dashes around the world or filling your days with planned activities — more power to you. But me? I’m gonna be straight up chillin’.
I want my summer to be an excuse to lavish in the ordinary and mundane; to cruise through our days like a VW Bug on a Hawaiian highway. We may not go far, nor fast, but our journey will still be incredible — because of these five things.
1. Being a “yes” mama
I feel like so many of my days are spent saying “no,” and this is usually for good reason. I don’t always have time during the school year to indulge my kids in their fun, imaginative requests.
Can we go to the beach and watch the sunset? No. We have homework to do. Can we see if the moon looks different from the roof? No. It’s bedtime.
But summer mommy? Summer mommy is a yes woman.
You want to go see if our local pet stores carry hedgehogs? Sure, why not! A friend told you that a park down south has the best swing set in the county? Let’s go check it out!
I am a woman who is completely unburdened by the rules that dictate September through May. And though our days may be unplanned, they are filled with adventure and intrigue.
2. Sleeping in
Girl, do you remember when you used to sleep in? When you would be woken up by the mid-morning sun beating down on your un-wrinkled forehead?
Summer is the lazy parent’s chance to obtain this greatness again. There is no schedule in summer; no early start-times for school, no lunches to be made. Mornings can begin slowly, naturally. There is finally time to make pancakes with blueberry eyes and banana noses. I can let my children eat as slowly as they want, pausing to build Lego castles besides their plates.
There is no morning rush. No wide-eyed panic as I toss leftovers in a Tupperware and call it a lunch.
I am a summertime parent. I am the queen of ease.
There is something simply delightful about a picnic. Our large, straw-woven basket reminds me of the summers of my youth. It has a red and white-checked inside that makes anything you put within it seem like a delicacy.
This basket is magic. Bottomless.
It holds surprises like juice boxes and freshly baked breads. Our basket always contains a versatile blanket that can rest easily on sandy beaches, the dirt beside a hiking trail, or the grass of a local music festival.
The picnic basket gives us freedom to be creative in our timeline; not based on our hunger pangs but instead on whatever our hearts desire. We can linger by the lake, or build one more towering sand castle.
Our feast is only an arm’s length away.
(I realize that including “gardening” has officially turned me into my mother but let’s be honest — I am finally okay with that.)
There is nothing that screams “SUMMER!” more than weeding in our garden as a family at 11 am on a Tuesday, sneaking bites of vegetables or herbs as we go.
I want my children’s chubby faces to be covered in dirt, their fingernails stained browned by picking up roly-polies and digging for worms. Three little bodies can huddle together in a tight circle, taking the time to comment on the growth of a squash and to count the sweet, crisp, strawberries that hang like ornaments on a Christmas tree.
I want their summer days to be filled to the brim with family time, and if I get a little weeding done in the process — praise be!
5. Trying new foods
I truly believe that summer should revolve around food. I want to stop at every taco stand and frequent every farmer’s market.
We don’t have anywhere specific to be, so we can give ourselves the benefit of exploration — of seeing where the day takes us. And if this leads us to eating ice cream plunked down on a filthy sidewalk, our flip flops catching the melted sugar that drips from our soggy cones, then I will consider that a win.
Our summer bucket list is not set in stone; it may bend with the desires of three strong-willed kids who have been given carte blanche to choose how their days are spent. There may be periods we never leave the house, others we return home only to lay our tired bodies down.
Our lazy summer months are precious — there is a finite amount of time that my children will follow my lead and dedicate their vacation to spending time together as a family.
I will revel in being a yes woman; in dirty, cherubic bodies, and the joy of not knowing what our day holds in store. I am a lazy summer parent — and I love it.
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