All winter long, the “dreaming of summer” posts pop up on Facebook, and as spring approaches everyone talks about how thrilled they are that summer is coming. But when you’re a routine-loving, fall/winter mom like I am, summer can be your least favorite season — the added efforts of cleaning up outside the house as well as inside, the lapse in scheduled activities, having a barrage of outside toys as well as those inside, and the thin layer of sand that seems to coat just about every floor. There are parties to attend that interrupt naps, and late-night fireworks that keep little ones up way past bedtime. It’s sweaty, it’s sticky, it’s busy. I have learned, though, that there is one way to get through it and actually enjoy it: Embrace the chaos.
Since having children, my favorite summer memories involve dropping the to-do list for impromptu fun. There was the day my infant son woke up early from his nap. I brought him and my dog outside on a blanket, expecting a cranky baby from a nap cut short. Instead, my son erupted into an uncontrollable fit of baby giggles watching my dog chomp at a stream of water from the hose.
One day this summer, my husband and I stopped to treat ourselves to ice cream when the kids fell asleep during a long car ride. By the time we got home to eat it, everyone was awake. We placed the dishes of ice cream on a blanket and let the kids dig in with their hands. They rinsed their sticky bodies in the sprinkler afterwards and had a blast. It was a joy to watch.
Even when I try to plan, the kids have other ideas to make their own fun, like when I filled up the kiddie pool only to have water leak all over the walkway. They had a blast splashing in the puddles the spill created, ignoring the nearby pool. My personal favorite is when they decide it’s great fun to play in the sandbox after playing in the water. Yes, it’s extra clean-up. Yes, every night ends up being a tubby night. Yes, our nightly toy pick-up is both indoors and out. But there are also smiles, good moods, milestones, harmony, giggles, and burned-off energy that make the chaos and sticky, dirty mess worth it. As a mom, it’s a great lesson for me to let things go, sit back, and take in the delightful chaos of my little ones experiencing pure, messy joy.
So if you’re one of few moms dreaming of fall, when each day has a laid-out plan, remember that it’s only a few short months to drop the to-do list and embrace the chaos.