Not going to lie. I’m not looking forward to summer vacation this year. I kind of like the structure of the school year and, call me selfish, the time to myself when my kids are in class. As we are about to embark on this completely unprecedented and unstructured weird summer, I have some serious apprehensions and a huge knot in my stomach. Here’s why:
Since we’ve been safer at home, my day starts with the struggle to get my girls out of bed before the crack of noon. Then I have to convince them to eat something for breakfast besides Nutella on a spoon (not joking) and to complete the most basic of human hygiene practices. (Mind you—these girls are not toddlers. They are 11 and almost 15 years old; when has toothbrushing ever been optional?!) After that comes the challenge of first getting them on their screens to complete their daily assignments, then getting them OFF their screens to go outside and get some fresh air and exercise. I know so many of you can relate – I see you pulling your hair out right alongside me.
They don’t want to read their books. They don’t want to practice piano. Chores? No, thanks. Laundry gets piled on top of laundry, dishes atop dishes. Bike rides happen only begrudgingly. I’ve been trying to grant them a fair amount of grace, as neither of them asked for online learning or this time of isolation from their teachers, coaches, and friends. But June, July, and August are already the months when my husband and I relax the house rules and screen limits. What the heck is going to happen in 2020: “Year of the Weird Summer, Weird School Year, Weird Everything”?
Normally this time of year I’m planning and writing about fun things to do in our area and beyond — road trips and family vacations are my specialty. But this weird summer has even the most intimate of family gatherings called into question. I’m struggling to find events and activities to structure our days. Sports are called off; libraries are closed. We can’t even find a nonprofit at which to volunteer. Our European vacation was canceled; my sister who lives in Southeast Asia is not coming home until fall, earliest. There are murder hornets, civil unrest, political unrest, and skyrocketing unemployment. My heart just can’t break any further.
So what do we do? We start by counting our blessings – that my husband and I can both work from home, and the quarantine hasn’t been the financial hardship for us that it has been for so many. That we are healthy and safe while countless others are not. That these first world parenting problems are really my biggest personal gripe right now. How lucky we are, as a family, to have the resource of time together as our simultaneous blessing and burden.
Here’s how it’s probably going to play out: We’re going to take some day trips, schedule safe socializing with neighbors and friends. The girls are going to play more Minecraft than I want and not read as many books, but I’ll just have to deal with it. Our camper in Upper Michigan is virus-free; so are the popup tents that we don’t use often enough. Maybe we’ll find some new parks and beaches, revisit a cave or two. It would be a good time to put in a garden and/or enroll in a CSA. If we can rebrand this weird summer as an adventure with new, close-to-home traditions, maybe I won’t lose my mind by September. (That is unless their video games drive me batty!)
What are you doing with your family during the weird summer of 2020? Share in comments!