I got a message last week asking the following question:
I would love to see a post though on what you do during summer, etc. Do you go out all the time? Do you have a billion “playdates” for the kids? Do you hit every local museum or theme park? Do you feel like you should? I don’t know. I’m just curious what your thoughts are on this.
The short answers?
No, we do not go out all the time. In fact, we rarely go out.
I hardly ever do playdates.
I am not a fan of museums or theme parks.
And I don’t feel like I should do any of these things.
There are multiple reasons for this.
First, with five kids home between the ages of 6 and 13 years old, amusement parks, restaurants, museums, movies — anything, really — are expensive.
It’s a couple hundred bucks to go to a water park with all the kids. Going to the movies is at least $50 if I go to a regular theater.
Museums? I don’t really care if museums are free — I just don’t love going to museums.
My budget is limited. And rather than take the kids all over the place during the summer, I’d rather save the day trip money and go on a vacation.
Which is what we did last week. I had saved up enough money to take the kids to the Jersey Shore for three nights last week.
So the first reason I don’t do a shit ton of stuff with the kids is financial.
The second reason is I did not grow up with that experience. I spent my summers playing with my brother (who is two years younger than me) in our back yard and in the woods behind our house.
We didn’t have a pool in our back yard, there was no town pool where I grew up, and I didn’t go to camp.
I figured out how to entertain myself — for free — for about fourteen summers until I started working every summer as a babysitter, then a camp counselor, and then a lifeguard and a swim coach.
I don’t feel like I missed out on anything, and I know this helped me to use my brain and learn to be creative and resourceful.
The third reason I don’t completely fill my kids’ summer with activities is because I don’t want to raise kids who expect to be entertained every minute of every day.
I believe that often creates an attitude of entitlement and a lack of appreciation and gratitude.
Plus, it’s good for kids to be bored.
The fourth reason is that I am a homebody.
I love my house.
My ultimate dream is to create a compound here on my property where I don’t even have to leave.
I have dreams of a home gym, my own yoga studio, a greenhouse, chickens, goats, an indoor pool, a guest house, and a basketball court.
And that’s just the beginning.
Will I ever get there?
I think so. Because it’s a real goal of mine.
But even if I don’t, my point is that being home makes me happy. Most of the time I don’t feel the need or even the desire to get away. Those stretches of time where I get in the car and realize I haven’t even driven anywhere in two or three days (while very rare) are my favorite.
The fifth reason is that we are very fortunate to have a pool in our back yard as well as close to three acres of property. We have plenty of room and plenty of space and the kids love to swim.
We don’t need anything else.
I did plan activities for us all this summer.
Most of them were free, and we didn’t do everything I had planned.
I had goals of a weekly day trip. Most of those were either free or very inexpensive.
I wanted to let the kids have friends over to swim in the pool, but the one time I arranged for that, I canceled the play dates because the kids’ behavior had deteriorated so badly and I just couldn’t justify rewarding that behavior with a treat.
We have done a few things this summer.
In fact, I think this is by far the busiest summer we have ever had.
We go to the public library once a week.
We also had quite a few swim meets which took up at least four entire weekends.
I did two triathlons and the kids came to those with me, and one was at an amusement park which Number 4 managed to score seven free tickets for.
We got back from our trip to the shore on Friday.
We have not gone anywhere since then.
We spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at home.
The kids did ask me every day, “Are we going anywhere today?”
And every day, my answer was, “NO.”
I feel strongly about the kids understanding that the extras — the trips to the beach or going to the movies or inviting friends over — because there are plenty of kids to play with here at home as it is — are extras. They are privileges. They are treats.
I think this takes some discipline as a parent.
It is hard to stay home with your kids all day every day. Or most days.
It is hard to not say, “Okay. I can’t take it anymore. We are going to the movies or to get ice cream or to the water park or wherever…”
And believe me. I am there.
I am tired and worn out and at the end of my rope.
And this summer hasn’t even been that long. The kids have only been home for six weeks.
We had a super short summer due to some seriously messed up weather here in CT last year — our last day of school was June 29th — so our whole summer is just over eight weeks long this year.
And that is PLENTY for me.
I’m burnt out, and I’m ready for a break.
In the next two weeks we might do a couple fun things — we may go to the beach and we’ll probably hit a bike path somewhere, but our days will not be jam packed full of activities.
The school year is busy enough as it is.
We will spend these two remaining weeks mostly hang out at home together, with our focus on not killing each other.
And then when the kids go back to school on August 29th, maybe I’ll work on getting those chickens. Or a goat. Or the yoga studio. Get one step closer to my compound becoming a reality.
Or maybe I’ll just sit in my house, dream of my compound, relish in the quiet, and congratulate myself on making it through another summer alive and intact.