I was fairly nervous going into the summer. It’d be my first experience managing my three highly demanding little ones, without the promise of a break when my eldest would normally be in preschool. All by myself. All day long – or at least until my husband would come home to rescue me. I’ve done the stay-at-home gig with my two toddlers, but the recent addition of our third would make things interesting.
To best prepare, I had the lowest expectations imaginable. My main priority was to survive and keep everyone alive. Nothing more, nothing less. The rules and schedules that dictated our lives up until that point had no jurisdiction under our roof and were null and void for the Summer months.
There were many times I wasn’t sure if I’d see the end of the day, let alone the end of the Summer, but I made it. With only one week to go until the first day of school, I think it’s safe to say, I survived. How? There was a lot of ‘letting go’ and embracing a new IDGAF attitude.
Some days hot dogs were for breakfast and cereal for dinner. Honestly, I was just happy they’d consume something other than the half-eaten treasure they found hidden in the couch or on the floor of our van from who knows how long ago. No begging and pleading them to take at least one bite of whatever well-balanced menu sat in front of them. There definitely wasn’t whining and crying about their ‘icky gross’ dinner which they usually decide is better off on the floor than on their plates.
When it came to outfits, they picked their attire every single day. Oh, you’re insisting on a thermal in summer? Digging those heels in pretty hard, huh? Okay, sounds good to me. I’ve been down this road before. After I explain it’s too hot for long sleeves, they’d whine and thrash around only to result in numerous outfit changes until everyone was satisfied. Nope. Thermal wins.
Bath time is another exhaustive battle I chose to do without. You don’t want a bath? Good, because I don’t really want to give you one. I’m pretty sure you took one yesterday or the day before. In either case, I’ll try to catch you later with a wet wipe.
Nap time fights can suck it. Protesting your nap today? We both know you need one, but I’m not going to spend however long convincing you and then attempt to lay down with you until you fall asleep. If you do, you do. If you don’t, I guess you’re going to bed early.
Screen time is typically monitored and limited, but this summer, TV saved my life. You want to watch TV for the umpteenth time today!?! Hmmmmm, sounds good to me. Maybe I can actually sit down and nurse your sister or even go to the bathroom without an audience.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say they did what they wanted, when they wanted to, but pretty damn close. Not hurting anyone? Not in danger? Not breaking the law? Go right ahead. You want to ride your bike around the house sans pants while wearing a bowl for a hat? Sure, why not. Who am I to stifle creativity or their expression of individuality?
Normally, my husband and I try our best limit bribes for the most extreme circumstances. Nothing sounds more extreme than staying home with three children under the age of four for the entirety of a summer.
Even with my best effort, a trip to the store would be unavoidable. I didn’t want to be there. My kids didn’t want to be there. Most of all, the poor employees didn’t want us there. To make it as painless as possible for all parties involved, bribes in the edible sense were most often used. If you didn’t hear my children’s screams from halfway across the store, it’s only because my boys were face deep in some crusty donut I found buried in the bakery case. Of course, if all behaved good-ish, there were promises of candy upon our exit.
On a few occasions, my boys really needed a bath and the strongest wet wipe in the world couldn’t cure them of their stench. Instead of me trying to force a kicking, screaming, tantrum-throwing body into the tub, we bypassed the unpleasantries with a promise of a cookie if they complied.
On days when my eldest really needed a nap, to which he strongly rebels against nowadays, I embarrassingly admit to sometimes guaranteeing a popsicle upon delivery of a mid-day siesta. This sometimes would be the only way and we were all better for it.
I sucked at cleaning and maintaining a neat and tidy household. You don’t want to clean up your toys? Ugh. Just help mommy push it all into the corner. You’re just going to re-create this mess tomorrow anyways.
I also was useless in making food that required effort beyond using the microwave. On more occasions than not, we ate out from the classiest drive-thru restaurants in town. By the end of the summer, both of my boys could easily recognize those beautiful golden arches from miles away and are known to scream, “FRENCH FRIES,” every time we pass a McDonald’s. On special occasions, our good friend, AKA the delivery driver, would bring us some warm delightful meal right to our door step.
I also found the task of doing dishes stupid – even if that did only mean loading and unloading the dishwasher. Do you know what’s awesome? Paper plates are awesome. Plastic cups and silverware are awesome. Not doing dishes is awesome.
Oh, and don’t get me started on laundry. It is by far the absolute worst. If something didn’t have obvious stains and smelled somewhat decent, it probably received the green light for another day’s use.
Looking back on the summer, there were a lot of great memories. A lot of chaos, but surprisingly more good times than bad. Truth be told, much of this can be attributed to breaking the rules. Once the school year commences, we’ll fall back into a routine, schedule and hopefully closer to our youngest sleeping through the night (fingers crossed).
Naps will be taken, bed times will be enforced, well-balanced meals will be attempted, TV time will be monitored, and school-related assignments will fill our afternoons. Until then, for the next week, I’ll continue not giving AF.