Summer with Kids Survival Plan

It’s almost here.

So many emotions.

I just, I don’t know…

It’s just such a complicated relationship.

I love…

I loathe…

For weeks I have been having bi-polar-menopausal type reactions to the onset of summer vacation. En serio.

One minute I’ll be jumping for joy that the temporary end of pick ups and drops, homework, projects, packing lunches, snacks, backpacks, and additional miscellaneous parental responsibilities are in site. No routine, no rules, lets get wild kids! The world is ours for the taking! Free range play or bust!

And then, like clockwork, the heat flashes.

Days upon days with all.the.kids.at home.with me.all.day.every.day.

No, no, I’m excited.

Really, I am.

I mean, I will be OK… it will be GREAT.

F.

Here’s my plan. Join me.

We’re in this together.

The Summer Survival Plan of Attack

1) MOMMY CAMP. My brilliant/superMom friend has been organizing a week of “Mommy Camp” for the last few summers. One Week, 5 days of easy/affordable activities for parent(s) and their littles. You don’t have to sign up, or commit. She sends the schedule for the week, there’s a point person per day/activity, you can come and go as you please. Activities include: Lake Days, Children’s Theaters, Playgrounds, Museums, Zoos. The best part(s) your kids play with the other kids, you get to catch up/meet new friends, it’s easy, and you get to explore and experience where you live! Make it happen.

2) Always Find Water. Pool, lake, spray parks. It’s hot, your hot, their hot. Water anything. Endless entertainment.

BathingSuites, Towels, Snacks, and for the really littles- the best floaty in the history of the world  —>

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Stern’s Puddle Jumper (Amazon)

3) Pretend to have your Sh!# together Summer Binder.  My children will be like 3 grades ahead of your kids by the end of the summer. Oh yea, you just wait. I am going to Pinterest the summer away with educational activities, reading challenges, and science experiments.

Kids will spend 20-30 minutes “working” and “creating” in their flawless Summer Binders that I made with blood, sweat and tears for them. They will love it, me, and relish in their summer creativity…sigh…. Probably not. But I’m going to try.

Some seriously cute ideas and printables on this creative Mom’s site.

And my littles are most excited about the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenege

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4) Let other people entertain them.

I found a great list of stores that offer Kids workshops. Check it out HERE.

Museums, gyms, and indoor play areas usually offer free events and/or open play times.

I’m a big fan of local activity blogs- KidFriendlydc.com and http://redtri.com/

….and when all else fails, when it’s so hot your sticking to each other….

4) Go to the Movie!

$1 Kids Movies @ Regal Theaters 

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You can see documentation of my summer anxieties and excitements with oodles of educational/somewhat cute/not so annoying summer ideas on my Summer w. Kids Pinterest Board 

…and friend BeyondDomestica on Facebook and Instagram! Follow and share your Summer Survival Plans. Please, I beg you. We’re in this together, right, RIGHT?!

Don’t leave me alone with them!

How many weeks until school starts?!

Dah!

Just one of those days

I stayed up too late working on one of the many projects that I am convinced will solve all of the issues in my world.

I wake up to the sound of the bathtub being filled. That can’t be a good sign.

BabyDaddy walks in tells me baby is going in the tub and her whole crib is covered in $h!t and he has to go to work.

Down one adult.

Fill 2 bowls and 1 tray full of organic whole everything cereal and bananas… is this healthy enough? I survived on frosted flakes and fruity pebbles, they’ll be fine.

Friend pulls up to drop off her 12 month old, I completely forgot about that. Pull it together, you only have 3 kids, she has 4.

Little girl runs to the bus stop. I pray to the free-range-parenting-goddess that she will be ok and that the neighbors won’t call child services.

Miracle babysitter shows up to watch babies while I go “co-op”/watch 3 year olds at little boy’s preschool.

My house is a mess and will without a doubt be spotless when I return, miracle babysitter is a lifesaver. How does she do it? She must think I’m a mess of person. I wish I could pay her more. Guilt.

I kiss 1 of the 2 crying babies goodbye and rush to the door. 8:50, I got this.

No keys.

Frantically run around the house looking for keys.

Babies crying. Everyone is looking for the keys.

No Keys.

Call preschool. I’ll be late.

Miracle babysitter helps me look for keys. Babies crying. Whole bag of whole everything organic cereal being shaken wildly by my wild baby all over the floor. Poor miracle babysitter will have to clean that. I would have left it for days.

Call MamaFriends who live close. Get a ride to preschool. Get a ride home after preschool.

Cancel appointments scheduled for the afternoon.

Search the house over and over again.

Shake every shoe and boot.

Empty every drawer.

Clear out all the kids toys.

Ransack each room.

Go through the trash bins and the recycling with a spatula.

Dissect the couch.

No keys.

Car is locked. Look through every window. No Keys.

They might be in-between the seat and the door. I’ve done that before.

Call a locksmith.

$95 later, the creepy locksmith opens the car.

No Keys.

Creepy Locksmith shuts the door, car locks again.

I scare the creepy locksmith into opening door again. If I disappear, it’s the creepy locksmith.

….or the UPS dude, he’s odd.

Search the ENTIRE house again. No Keys.

Search the ENTIRE car in the 200 degree crazy humidity filed car. No Keys.

Little boy on his 2nd (5th) cartoon. Is this going to hurt him later in life? Once in a while is ok, right??? Is it really once in a while darlin? Is TV my parenting crutch? I suck.

Call creepy locksmith’s friend who can get new keys without towing. Quotes me $235, F!

BabyDaddy has to text the dude a pic of his license. Baby Daddy unreachable.

The Dude says if he doesn’t get license by 4, he can’t send someone out until tuesday. F!!!!!

Frantically calling BabyDaddy.

Convince the Dude I am not trying to steal the car, he says he’ll send someone.

Googling ways to DIY replace keys. I’m scrappy, i can do this on my own! You can order keys on amazon? huh.

No. be smart. trust a professional.

I can’t believe I’m about to spend $330 to replace my lost key.

Walk to get girl from bus stop.

Tell her my ordeal with the keys. Asks her if she’s seen them.

“Yea Mom, I hid them in my room from the baby.”

……….

Frantically call the dude not to send someone out.

About to lose my mind.

she’s a kid. she’s a kid. she’s a kid.

Deep breathing Mama, deep breathing.It worked out. It worked out. It worked out.

Hit the reset button.

Throw the kids into the car after a long sit down about other peoples things, the importance of communication, money, etc etc.

We’re going to the pool.

Kids don’t listen when it’s time to leave.

One kid gets grounded.

I threaten no dinner for everyone. Did I really just say that? I’m a barbarian.

In the car. With the keys. Finally. Order takeout.

Drive home filled with traffic and arguments about big sister “not having a butt” and how little brother “smells like a butt” this goes on a very long time. Where do they learn this stuff?

Keep it together.

Get to restaurant. Nowhere to park. Baby is naked in her car seat. kids in wet bathing suits.

Park car in front of many parked cars. Run in to grab food in skimpy bathing suit cover. Car running. AC On. I’m officially failing parenthood today…while looking like a trashy heifer.

I don’t get arrested for leaving kids in the running car and the kids didn’t take the car, so that’s a positive.

Finally home to my crazy mess of a house.

Inhale food.

Throw kids in quickest bath ever.

Grounded one goes to room/bed.

Little one is tucked in. I need to read more books at night. Maybe if I don’t they’ll think it’s a luxury? I need help at night. No, i just need to keep it together longer. come on, you can do it.

Decide to rock baby to sleep, that makes everything better. You can see her little face forming into the non-baby face. It is like I’ve never seen her before. I need to savor these moments more. She is so amazing and these moments are so fleeting. I lay her down peacefully, I’m about to shut the door…

The phone rings.

Baby is crying.

Grounded Kid is whining.

Little boy is calling for me.

and then there was you

It’s 10 o’clock the night before your 6th birthday. It’s taking every ounce of self restraint not to walk upstairs and cuddle you like a baby and tell you everything. Your story, our story, is epic. And someday, when you’re older, I will tell you everything. But not now, not tonight.

Every year, for the past 5 year, in the days before your Birthday I think about those crazy 9 months and how that one day, the day you came, changed my life.

I look back now and think about how unready I was, how unprepared… how I should have been more scared. And there were many (many) moments, when I was. But there was something about you from the very first time we thought about you. We knew that we already loved and wanted you.

anna prego
Pregnancy is not kind to me. With you I had preclampsia, gained 90 (yes, NINETY) pounds, had swollen hands and feet for 80% of the pregnancy, and was throwing up DAILY. It was brutal.

I keep looking at the clock, reliving the hours before your birth. 10:30pm at the hospital getting checked in to our room for induction. I had pre-clampsia when I was pregnant with you and that day I had gone to my 37week appointment, Daddy was there. The Doctor came in and told me that the protein count in my urine had tripled and that we should plan on checking into the hospital that day. It was a big shock! I was rushing around trying to get everything ready when I noticed Daddy sitting at his computer. “Cris, we don’t have time for this, we have to get everything packed!” He looked at me with fear in his eyes and said, “I have to order a filling cabinet, we have nothing to put her birth certificate in!” Everyone deals with fear differently 🙂

After a dramatic pregnancy, labor and delivery- you were here.

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YOU.

My first. My baby. My girl.

When you were born, my world, my entire being was transformed. I could never have imagined that it was ever possible to love someone so much.

eliza baby nyc

The first year of your life, we roamed the city. We would explore every inch of Manhattan. We would meander around Central Park for hours. I made my first group of “Mommy Friends” and experienced another level of friendship that was (is!) so essential and meaningful. Although we are no longer in NY, those NY Mamas will ALWAYS hold a place in my heart and are still some of my dearest friends.

We had a lotta fun little girl and I knew early on that you were special.

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Eliza, you are amazing.

Being your Mama is an honor.

You are strong, clever, beautiful, and kind.

Eliza 2 1:2 Eliza 2

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I am so proud of who you are and who I see you becoming.

I will do my best to be there for you, to listen, to love, to let you explore, to encourage, to cherish the wild, to challenge when needed, and to help you stay true to who you really are.

Happy 6th Birthday my love.

eliza boat

We love you to infinity and beyond!

Eliza at wedding

Dear Young Person

It took turning 30 for me to turn into an Grown-Up.

Not marriage, or paying bills, or living on my own, working, or even having kids. 30. Something clicked at 30.

As you can probably tell by my post ‘Here’s Where I’m At‘ this year seems to me the year of self reflection and contemplation. Sometimes, the process of self reflection and contemplation can be tough; getting loss in the abyss of should haves… the self pity… we’ve all been there. For years I’ve struggled between allowing myself to grieve for the injustices of my past vs the ‘everything happens for a reason’ and the ‘it made me who I am’ justifications. In this moment, right now, I am happy with who I am..regardless of my past. HOWEVER, I do wish I could have said some things to my younger self.

Dear Young Person,

Love Will Find You

You don’t need to take matters into your own hands and actively seek out your lifelong partner…. At least, not yet.  This is so important. You will save yourself a lot of heartache and the ripple effect (and there are many many ripples) of bad decisions.

Be a Good Friend

..and surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. On that note,

Find the Nerds

I could write a book about the advantages that aligning with, or being, a nerd provides. There is less pressure on superfluous social things, which will inevitably lead to less bad decisions (with less bad decision ripples…)  and more pressure on academics and personal enrichment which will probably create a path of positive ripple opportunities (overboard with the ripples?) Just know, dear Young Person, that the nerds are the smart, funny, and nice kids who then grow up to be the successful, (still) funny,  more interesting adults.

Spend Time with Elders

Don’t dismiss old people. They have so much to offer. Listen to stories, ask questions, and take notes. You don’t know everything… but they probably do.

Play Play PLAY

Never stop. It’s much better than movies, or going to the mall, I promise.

snow play

Wear Sunscreen

I vividly remember seeing a poster in the old lifeguard station that read, “The most sun damage happens before age 18.” I was 17 at the time with years of baby oil suntanning behind me… I told myself, as I did all those summers before, “I’m (1/2) latina… and I live in Vermont, it’s like a month a year of hot sun. I’m ok.” For the record, it doesn’t matter how light or dark your skin is, everyone should wear sunscreen…even if you live in Vermont. There are hundreds of creams, sprays, etc that can make you look like surfer barbie without the sun damage, skin cancer, sun spot, and wrinkles.  You will thank me when you’re older.

Wear Wild Outfits

Wear wild and fun outfits and wear them for you.

Be Kind 

Being a kid can be tough, being a teenager can be REALLY tough. The onset of social media and numerous ways to instantly communicate with one another have presumably made the complicated lands of teenage angst even more tumultuous. Don’t try and navigate it gracefully. Navigate it gracefully. Learn this.Live this.

The Golden Rule

There are 18 different religions and spiritual followings that each have numerous versions of the ‘Golden Rule’? That’s pretty impressive. It must mean it’s worth knowing…know it.

The Golden Rule(s) YOU, young person, need to know-

(The In a Nutshell Version) Treat others how you would want to be treated

(The Tech Version)  Never type/text anything that you wouldn’t want said about you

See the Beauty in Your Backyard 

You will never see the true beauty in the world unless you can find and appreciate the beauty in your own backyard.

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Get Outside

Everything you need can be found outside in nature. You will be your best and strongest self when you are in the wilderness, soak it up as much and as often as you can.

grand canyon

You’ll be OK. You are stronger than you think. Xoxo

So, she just had a baby…now what?

**Disclaimer**

When the author of this post (ahem, me) wrote this first draft she was hormonal, sleep deprived, un-showered.

and….well,

proceed with caution.

and please don’t be offended.

*                     *                    *

Pregnancy for me is every synonym of terrible. 10 months of bloated, nauseous, uncomfortable, exhausted, grossness, wherein I inevitably gain about 60-90lbs. Oh yea, a real sight.

But then, on or around the 6th (or 100th) time that you are convinced that you could not get any bigger or uncomfortable…. There’s a baby. Poof! Snap of a finger! Baby!

(Hardly, but we’ll save THAT experience(s) for another time)

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Whether it is by pushing, c-section, or adoption- Having a baby is an unparalleled experience. 6 Million years of procreating has led us to an experience of utter devotion and awe of babies. I am deeply blessed to have three beautiful, healthy babies. Everyday I am thankful for their health and existence.

This post was first written in a dark place in the mama lowlands….about 6 weeks in, when the adrenaline has receded. I felt exhausted, fat, and isolated from friends and the general population of people who didn’t have a newborn gnawing on their poor poor nipp….OK OK OK, happy place, happy place, I’m not there anymore.

No, for realz. This post is intended to give ‘the new Mamas’ a voice. To share with you, a very summarized version of what it’s like in those first few weeks and, hopefully, how you can best be there for that new mama in your orb.

God speed.

It is overwhelming having a newborn.

In those first few days/weeks the most important thing for Mama to do is to recover from childbirth, which is not a comfortable experience. Mama can hardly walk, is crampy (worst with each pregnancy!) bloody, exhausted, hormonal, and feels like a deflated balloon. She stands in the mirror and wonders if she will ever have a belly button again…

Mama and baby are enamored and mystified with each other. All they want to do is bond and get to know each other in a calm, safe, and quiet environment.

They are trying to figure out breastfeeding, which is emotionally and physically draining and more often than not, pretty tricky. The BEST way for Mama and Baby to figure out the labyrinth of breastfeeding is to have skin to skin contact all day. No joke. No shirts, nakey baby… all. day.

Mama and Baby are both going through a lot and rest is so important.

These things are hard to do even with the simplest of basic human needs like eating and  going to the bathroom. Of course if there are other dependents to think about, it is even more complicated. The onset of visitors makes these things near impossible.

I get it, everyone wants to meet the baby, it’s exciting and new, and it’s pretty freaking awesome seeing such a new little human. But take it from me, Mama needs some time.

But how, Anna?! HOW do I help my dear Wife, BabyMama, Daughter, Sister, Friend get through this and know I love her and I’m here for her!

Fear not friend, read on.

Your FRIEND just had a baby

Drop off food: Keep it simple.

Meals that won’t require her to do much/anything and put them in containers that she can throw away or keep. Whole Meals- pesto pasta with vegetables, enchiladas, soup with yummy bread. If she has other kids, make sure you consider the picky eaters…i.e. simple is best. I had a friend who brought me pesto orzo loaded with veggies and feta and then a ziplock bag full of noodles and butter for my older babes (GENIUS)

If meals aren’t possible (or needed) treats like banana bread, oatmeal cookies, muffins, bagels, and good beer are great options.

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I love the idea of a Taco Box
Be a friend: Mommy-mush-brain is real and she may not be her usual sharp and witty self, cut her some slack and catch her up on the preschool gossip while handing her some trashy magazines and a 6-pack of good beer.

Take care of her other dependents: If she has other kids, take them to the park, offer a play date at your house, or give them a ride(s) to/from school. If no other kids, but a first-child-dog, you guessed it, take that damn dog for a walk.

Your DAUGHTER/DAUGHTER IN LAW just had a baby

(all of the previous, and…)

Help HER: If you are there, help HER. As much as you want to be there just for the baby (don’t deny it…)  Mama is the one who needs you. And what does she need you to do?

Pick 1 or ALL of the following- Clean, cook, wash the dishes, take out the trash (there will be lots of trash), tidy up, wash and fold the laundry, go grocery shopping, help with thank you notes, help with the other dependents, and…

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Moral Support: Mama is going to be moody and emotional. She is going to keep face for the outside world, but with you, her Mama, she will probably cry, a lot. Its a tricky mix of exhaustion and hormones. Try and recognize when she needs to just let it out and when she may need a little ‘break from baby’. Biology is amazing. As exhausted and overwhelmed as she is, she will not want to separate from baby, if only for 20 minutes! GENTLY offer up “It looks like baby is out for a bit, why don’t you take a shower and rest while I finish folding the laundry.”

Your WIFE/BABYMAMA/PARTNER just had a baby

(all of the previous, and…)

Be her Gladiator: Everyone is going to want to come and see the new baby. We have now learned that endless visitors are not the best thing for mama and baby. Be the gatekeeper! You be the one to tell friends, family, and neighbors when (and when NOT) to come by. When family is mad that they can’t come within an hour of getting home from the hospital, you deal with it…be her flippin gladiator.

Fake it till ya make it:  Even if you can’t understand what she has/is going through; even if you love baby but can’t quite bond with it just yet (totally normal in those first few weeks!) Just love both of them. Show her you love her, show her you love baby. Rub her back, listen to her, tell her you love her more than you ever have before. Be in awe of the process.

Show her: 2 words.

Push Prize.

No, no, no, don’t roll your eyes. Give her something.

It doesn’t have to be diamonds, or expensive.

Give her something that shows how much you value her experience. A letter or photo-book with memories from her pregnancy and new baby, jewelry, a book of poems, a piece of art, a journal. Give her something that she will be able to have always, to remember this wild and beautiful time.

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And Mamas, I promise, it gets easier….and then harder, and then easier again 🙂 Have faith in 6 million years of evolution. It works. Trust your intuitions and if you need help, ASK. Hell, even if you are a stubborn, I can do anything type a gal, ask for help.

As wonderful and hard as it is- feel, remember, be present and enjoy the ride of this fleeting time.

Next Week is gunna be swwwweeeetttt!

Next week will be better.

I will be better.

I am going to the gym a minimum of 3 times. I’m even going to try a soul cycle class… And I’m going to flippin like it.  

  
Who cares if I haven’t worked out in 1 (3) months, or that going to the gym means baby won’t get her morning nap, which as the third is truly her only time with just me and/or sleeping with some peace. It’ll be better because I will be filled with post workout endorphins that will turn me into a somewhat less mean mommy, which makes life happier (and calmer) for everyone in my stratosphere (love you honey!)

Baby also won’t be teething  next week. Which means I will get at least a few minutes a day without dear girl in my arms, and I won’t need 2 (4) glasses of wine to decompress that night(s) …and I won’t feel guilty.

(I feel guilty thinking it)

  

I will NOT stay up past 10 (12?) binge watching anything… I do have self control, I do have self control. In fact, I’m going to READ, every night. Because I am that kind of woman.

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 I will not wear anything with any kind of stretch in it. I will be that put together Mom, you know, that one.

I am also going to plan dinners for the week. AND I’m going to go to the grocery store once, not 3 (6) times like this week. I will not have bad carbs at evey (most) meals. And no sugar, that’s off the list. Oh yea, I’m going there. Side note- They’re also going to be Michelle Obama worthy meals that family will devour. 

Mommy- “No kids we are not having pizza, cereal, and/or peanut butter sandwiches this week. ”

Children- “We knew you would get it together someday Mom!”

<everyone hugs>

  
I’m going to be like the best BabyMama to Babydaddy….boy is gunna remember why he picked this girl off the street corner! Bowchickabowow….(ew gross, kidding, obvi…)

Babydaddy- “Dearest hot wife, you shaved your legs and put lipgloss on while making 35 breakfasts, 37 lunches, 35 dinners, 100 snacks, while helping our daughter jump a reading level, workout, and renovate our house for pennies?!”

BabyMama- “I’m just that good.”

shucks, I’m gunna crush it.