Summer is here in all its splendor and to so many of us that brings to mind beloved traditions from our own childhoods! Playing in the sprinklers, ice cream trucks, riding our bikes and beach trips galore.
While these were the things of my childhood, my kids lives look a little bit different. I tried. I really really tried to do the activities that all the fun moms do now. But some of them are just funner in theory than reality for me!
Having a toddler changes everything! While my seven and almost six year old’s can now finally sit and enjoy some of these things, having an 18 month old adds a whole new dimension to everything that changes the game completely.
Here are the 5 summer traditions I had to abandon because of my toddler.
Free Movies in the park
Why? Just why? I did this for several years before I finally gave up. First of all let’s define free. To me that means you pay for nothing, like at all. I can show up without two nickels to rub together and it’s all good. That does not mean the movie is free BUT the bounce house where you see all the other kids with fun parents having a blast costs $3 per kid. That popcorn junior on the next blanket is shoving in cost $5 a bag. Let’s not forget the donation basket with a “suggested amount” that they pass around just before showtime! That free movie just cost me $20!
The movie itself..wait…was there a movie playing? I couldn’t hear it over my own yelling! “Sit down and be quiet.” “Stop putting gum in strangers hair.” “Don’t throw that popcorn! It cost me $5!” “Where is Jax? Has anyone seen Jax?”
By the end I’m in a hot, angry sweaty mess carrying one sleeping child, four chairs, blankets, sleeping bags , pillows and the untouched bag of snacks I brought so my kids wouldn’t want the expensive snacks, forgetting why oh why I do this week after week summer after summer. This might have been the year we got through a movie but nope, I had another baby so we are starting over.
Concerts in the park
This has many of the same issues as the movies in the park. While I am gloriously reliving my youth listening to the Bangles sing Eternal Flame, for “free”, my kids are wrestling on the blanket, Jax is screaming and stealing food and I’m getting the stink eye from the people behind me who either never had kids or forget what it was really like.
I could be doing this at home on my couch for real free without all the grief. Time to make an early exit.
The Harkins Theater summer movies
I love the idea behind the summer movies. With three kids we don’t get to the movies a whole lot. It’s just not worth the time, money and frustration. I like that during the summer when we have more free time we can enjoy all the movies we missed during the year. The kids have really enjoyed this. I like that it’s just $5.00 for 10 movies! But wait, nope, not really. That’s before snacks which cost more than all the movies put together!
And then there’s Jax. Oh my beloved Jax. He can’t sit still for two minutes! And what else is there to do in a movie theater if you aren’t watching the movie? Eat sticky, nasty, dirty things off the floor that he’s crawling on and seats he’s going under and aisles he’s running up and down screaming “mine, mine, mine” because it’s the latest word he’s learned and he needs to say it 13,421 times a day at a minimum.
Ahh, he’s finally sitting. Oops false alarm. He just wanted to see how many times he could kick the seat in front of him, say “uh oh” every time and then resume his search for snacks on the floor.
Mommy and Me Swim Lessons
I have done swim lessons for 6 summers in a row and let me tell you, this is the first year my two oldest could probably survive a fall in the pool and that’s only because I switched to a real swim team during the year. While it’s fun the first day and everyone is splashing and having fun, by the third day everyone is over it. The older two are screwing around not listening while the teenager in charge doesn’t even attempt to gain their attention. She’s too busy talking to her buddy in the class next door about their weekend plans.
The toddler who just forced me into a bathing suit and a pool for goodness sakes doesn’t want anything to do with it. He’s kicking and flailing but he IS getting in this water because I paid $50! I don’t care if he doesn’t learn a gosh darn thing! He will like it and he will stick his little face in the water and blow those bubbles! He will! He will! He will!
Any classes of any kind
I can barely stick to any commitment of any kind at this point in my life so why on earth did I think it was a good idea to have my kids take classes during the summer? Sure, now we have all the free time in the world right? Wrong!
Between the VBS’s, Cub Scout Camp and outings and being a part of the local Swim Team, we haven’t had a single day off since summer started! How can my child make a weekly class when we are never home? Ad to it the Jax Factor and it’s pointless!
Jax is napping so it’s a bad time to leave. Jax needs his meals right on schedule or he turns into a crazy little mad man. Let’s not forget what happens if we actually show up on to a class. Jax wants to participate! He wants to walk the balance beam. He wants to kick the ball. He wants to play! And there’s no restraining him.
Carrying a kicking, screaming toddler away from something he’s not allowed to do and not even being able to watch my child that IS participating is a bit of a kill joy for me.
Bringing it back old school
As I’ve tried, and failed, at all of these things, I have to wonder what was so wrong with the way we did it when we were young? Why do there have to be all of these structured, set activities? Why do kids have to be constantly entertained?
Sometimes we just need to bring back the simple pleasures in life. We had to abandon some old traditions but we are bringing it back old school and remembering the little things…
like the joy a hose can bring…
blow up pools you can go in anytime…
eating too much junk food and living to talk about it…
reading a book…
riding a bike…
playing in the backyard…
walking the dog…
eating watermelon and spitting out the seeds and hoping you don’t swallow any because then a watermelon will grow in your belly…
There was nothing wrong with the way we did it back in the day so I’m bringing it back! You may not see me at all the popular activities going on around town this summer but don’t worry about us, we are going to have a summer to remember in spite of, and largely because of, the toddler!
What old school summer activities do you enjoy with your kids?
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