Emily Jaycox editorial

Make the best of your crazy, messy, semi-organized summer with kids

The summer is already half gone (or if you prefer, half still to go) and if you’re like me, you don’t know where the time went.

Summer is a great time to get out and enjoy nature and recreational activities that aren’t possible through the rest of the year, either because the family is working or in school, or the weather isn’t right.

And although that family time is special and we wouldn’t want it any other way, for parents, summertime can be a bit of a nightmare. Why? Because it means all that structure that was carefully holding our sanity together like still-wet glue and flimsy tape on a quickly sinking ship made of Popsicle sticks, is suddenly right out the window.

This is especially true for parents of special needs or extra needs children, or just sensitive kids who thrive on a predictable routine.

For me, routines take time to ease into. I mean, we’re already nearly eight months into 2021 and I’m just getting used to typing out 2021 instead of 2020.

See, there are different types of people, sometimes referred to Type A or Type B. Type A’s are organized-to-the-max and are planners. Type B’s are go-with-the-flow, laid back and carefree people who march to the beat of their own drum.

I really don’t know where I fall in. Sometimes I feel like a Type A who is just failing and defaults to Type B. Or a Type B who sometimes aspires to structure and order. Who knows?

I suspect that these Type A’s are also the rare species called ‘Morning People.’

Mornings are the worst.

Sometimes I’m on a roll — the kids are clean, fed and dressed and no one’s picked a fight for five whole minutes, and other days at drop-off, it’s: “Here ya go, he ate a handful of Cheerios, and oh, he peed on my shoes in our driveway when he couldn’t hold it, but don’t worry, he’s clean.”

Is that a real example? I plead the fifth.

The point of the story is, whatever ‘type’ you are, whether you’re that PTA mom, helicopter or free-range parent, or the ever-alluring hot mess mom (work those pjamma pants like it’s your job!), there are ways to enjoy the summer regardless.

Having fun with kids requires a bit of give-and-take on both ends.

Sometimes the strictly-planned-activities-parent needs to loosen up and go ahead with that spontaneous water balloon fight. Sometimes it’s O.K. to put off chores to have some time together outside, or to let the kids get to bed a little late in the name of family time.

Maybe it’s okay to let them eat a more creative diet during the summer — they get a multivitamin after all, right?

And sometimes it’s prudent to plan ahead and have everything prepared in advance so you can truly enjoy your time and relax. Sweat the details now so you won’t be in a scramble later.

Go ahead and prep that healthy meal plan or make that chore chart.

Summer doesn’t discriminate and there is room for all types to enjoy the season, even if both types exist within you — simultaneously.

Give yourself room for failure and room to figure out what works best for you and your family. When it all starts to hit the fan, repeat your calming mantra, listen to soothing music or go to wherever your mental happy place is.

And when school starts up again? Well, about half-way through the school year, I’ll have the morning routine nailed-down-to-the-minute. We’ll be a well-oiled machine. Until there is a break and the lack of structure messes everything up.

At least there’s a good statistical probability that with all the ‘types’ out there, I won’t be alone.