As of this week, summer has officially arrived.
The kids are out of school, the routine has been thrown out the window, and the days slip further and further into complete chaos.
Mom blogs all over the place (and rightly so) are full of posts entitled “how to avoid summer boredom”, “752 activities to keep your toddler busy when it’s 117 degrees outside”, or the like.
There’s a reason we are all writing about the same thing. Because we are ALL living it. No matter how many kids you have, no matter how old they are, and no matter if you work outside the home or stay at home, those 180 minutes between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. become eerily similar to a hostage situation.
“Fine, just ONE more snack! Dinner is literally in 17 minutes!”
“No, you cannot jump from the couch to the fireplace. Go play outside!”
“OK, you can have ice cream after dinner if you eat every single one of these carrots!”
And, as always, a little bit of “STOP hitting/kicking/biting/flicking/punching/bothering your sister/brother/friend/pet!!!”
Many nights, I find myself wondering if I will survive until bedtime. Literally, I actually wonder if I will still be standing upright when it is time to turn out the lights and go to sleep. And if you’ve ever felt that way (which I’m guessing many of you have), I think we can all agree. It is NOT a happy mental place.
Luckily, God blessed me with a dear husband who senses my level of “can’t-handle-anymore” each evening, and as soon as summer hits, we hear a lot more of those seven words loved by dogs and kids alike:
“How about we go for a walk?”
Ahhhh….sweet relief. A few moments away from the dishes (seriously how can they possibly use that many cups in one day?), the laundry (because of course each day includes last night’s pajamas, first outfit, swimsuit, second outfit because the first outfit is not sufficient for putting on after swimming or running through a sprinkler, and then yet another pair of pajamas…), and the to-do list (which, in our house, is not ever just one nice list hanging on the fridge, but instead 14 different size/color post it notes stuck on every surface of the kitchen counter)…
And so we go. Shoes on, and out the door.
No diaper bag needed, no snacks to plan, no extra clothes to throw in, no water bottles to fill…just US.
On any given evening in the summer (and spring…and fall…and frankly into the winter if I’m brave enough to pull out the box of gloves, hats, scarves, snow pants, coats, boots, and other “necessary items”), you will find the six of us walking in our neighborhood. Usually on one of two routes, and usually ending up at the little park down the road at some point during the walk.
It may seem silly, and it may seem small, but these walks are life to me. They are a part of who we are; they are a refreshing moment to talk with my husband without a clear view of the ten billion tasks that need to be done; they are us creating memories. There’s nothing extra special about the walks, the destination is usually not overly exciting (although sometimes we do end up at the ice cream shop), but I honestly don’t know what I would do without them.
Last week some friends and I were talking about what types of activities we like to do with our kids/family during that “witching hour” between dinner prep time and bed time. One friend said she felt like they were always going to the same park, and she wanted to switch things up. On one hand, I completely understand where she’s coming from, and there are definitely times that I say “let’s go a different way this time”. But then another friend chimed in, and her comment has stuck with me ever since. Here’s what she said:
“As far as boredom with the same park, you are actually allowing your children to become masters of that space, which is hugely beneficial for their development. It may seem boring to you, but children truly thrive on repetition.”
That comment made me think about our little walks, just the six of us, and how my children will remember these moments when they get older. They will remember the route we took, which sidewalks were bumpy when we pushed the stroller over them, and which hills were the most fun to run down. They will remember how we laughed as we chased each other home, or how sometimes we cried when one of us fell down or slipped on the curb or ran too fast down the alley and wiped out.
Above all, I hope they remember how much we loved those walks. How refreshing they were on the busiest of days. How life-giving they were when we felt like we might not make it to lights-out. And how the very best place to be always was, and always will be, together.
Ah, the magic of that nightly walk…