Ah, the sweet sounds of summer vacation. When you’re a stay-at-home mom, you kind of get used to a quiet house during the school year. We’re supposed to treasure the summers. They don’t last forever, after all, and they give us a precious few months to do all the things we can’t do when school is in session. Vacations. Daytime movies. Eating out. Fun times, right?
Except… except, maybe it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Some parts of summer vacation get old pretty fast. The bickering, if you have more than one child. The cries of “I’m bored!” The never-being-able-to-go-to-the-store-alone. Goodness gracious, the expenses. There are some non-summer things you’re going to miss, so here are our top suggestions for the things to do before school is out.
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Every mom likes a trip to the local coffee house every now and then (or maybe every day; no judgment), whether it’s Starbucks or Peet’s or a neighborhood indie shop. So here’s a quick reminder: once your little ones are out of school for the summer, your java fix will get more expensive, because most of the time you’ll be buying something for them, too! Plus, there’s no lingering over your cuppa with a good novel when you’ve got a bouncy kid in tow. So head to the local shop and pick up your biggest, favoritest latte or tea fog or cold brew or decaf whatever. You’ll be glad you did!
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Let’s be real: have you ever actually taken your child hiking? It’s one of those things we all love to say we’ll do. Grow an appreciation for nature and all that jazz. But hiking with kids never works out the way we plan. You end up going a quarter of the distance you’d planned, because the kids are stopping every dozen steps to pick up a stick or stack rocks or watch squirrels. They complain constantly about how far it is and how tired they are, even though you know they’ll be bouncing off the walls of the car on the drive home. And then there’s the bugs: extra layers of mosquito repellant to apply, extra bodies to check for ticks at the end. Go by yourself now, while you still can.
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Maybe hiking isn’t really your thing. Alright then. A better option, perhaps, might be visiting the gym. You know, the one where you’ve had a membership for the past two years but have only set foot inside maybe three times since enrolling? That gym. Enjoy not having to use the questionable childcare where you just know the toys and surfaces aren’t cleaned often enough. Enjoy getting to really plug in to your workout and get lost, whether it’s on the treadmill or in an aerobics class or using the free weights. Enjoy getting to use that sauna for once. But get that workout in!
We’re pretty sure yoga is the domain of young twenty-somethings with no kids and pregnant ladies, because there are so very few yoga studios around that offer on-site childcare. What’s up with that? Confusion aside, goodness knows most moms like some time on the mat. Yoga gets us limber and just a little sweaty, and it also somehow manages to fulfill a need for community and spirituality, not to mention relaxation. Take a class now, when you don’t have to worry about who’ll be watching your kids while you’re gone.
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Acquiring new clothes is surprisingly difficult once you have kids. Most of us become pretty skilled at remembering what size we wear in different brands, and simply measuring the clothes against our bodies without trying them on, because have you ever tried to bring a kindergartener into a changing room? They’re pulling things off hangers, rummaging through your purse, and trying to climb under the changing stall walls. Take advantage of these last days to go pick up a new swimsuit or a pair of pants while you have the time to actually try them on.
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Now that you’ve got some new clothes, toss ‘em in the wash and then spend some time in your birthday suit! You think we’re kidding? Remember: once your kids are home every day for months, hanging out on the back patio or on your living room couch with no clothes on will likely be a no-no, especially if they bring friends around. But warm weather is the ideal time for nudity, and many people find it freeing to practice it in the privacy of their own homes. Enjoy the freedom while it lasts.
When you go out to eat with your kids, chances are the foremost question in your mind is, what can I get them to actually eat? As much as we all swore we’d raise kids who happily ate sushi and pho, many of us instead struggle with little ones who want macaroni and cheese for every meal, day in and day out. That means that this week is the week to go eat a few meals that are not only kid-free, but where you can truly eat whatever you want. Go to the Indian buffet. Make a giant salad at the salad bar place. Get a sandwich that’s not peanut butter and jelly. Go wild, and make your tummy happy.
Chances are good your local community pool has already opened up. Remember how every time you bring your kids, it seems like a great idea until you get there and you spend the entire afternoon frantically checking one kid or another to make sure they’re not splashing or stealing toys or drowning? Yes, the kids may love the pool, but we moms generally don’t enjoy actually taking them there. If you want to actually enjoy a little pool time — whether swimming laps, floating on your back, or simply sunbathing — now’s the time to do it.
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Going to the bookstore with your child means spending half your time dragging them away from the toy section and half the time asking them if book after book after book sounds interesting while they’re distractedly reading something else you’d rather not actually buy them. It also means exactly zero minutes browsing for fun summer reads for yourself, and zero minutes spent in the bargain buy section looking at books on napkin folding and bizarre-but-true medical mysteries that you yourself have no intention of buying. If you want to buy real books from a real bookstore to read this summer, get thee to your local (preferably independent) bookstore and shop!
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While you’re out shopping, why not hit every mom’s favorite big box store? Yes, Target, the store where we all love to buy a dozen things we didn’t intend to buy is an ideal destination while you’re kid-free. With kids, you end up plotting creative routes that avoid the toy and electronic sections, while still somehow ending up with candy and Pokemon cards that are easier to buy than to continue to refuse. Alone, you can check out the non-toy dollar bins, browse the home decor aisles while daydreaming, and maybe pick up a fun new pen or journal that you may or may not ever actually use. Solo Target runs beat kid Target runs by a longshot.
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Taking your kid to the ice cream parlor can be a bit of a nightmare sometimes, but we do it all the time anyway. We deal with them begging for a second scoop, or the special chocolate dipped cone, or just one more topping please. We deal with our own scoop melting before we can get halfway through because we’re so busy wiping up spills and making sure they don’t leave chocolate fingerprints on literally everything in the room. Maybe you should take this opportunity to have one-on-one time with your local Ben & Jerry’s. Get your favorite, get a cone, get two scoops, even! It’s all fair play right now.
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Summer is coming, and you’ve got plans. And those plans do not involve your kids wasting away in front of Netflix for days on end. So why on Earth should you go visit a museum alone, when you’re planning to go to ALL THE MUSEUMS with your children over the course of the next few months? Several reasons. First, do you even remember last summer? How many museums did you actually manage to drag your kids to? Second, going alone means actually enjoying the exhibits. Reading the placards and signs. Studying that one painting for as long as you want. Going where you want to go, rather than spending the entire time in the kid-friendly hands-on science area (which, admittedly, is pretty cool, but still!). And third, because going alone means going to the museum YOU want to go to, whether that’s a military history museum or an art gallery or some other place where your children would be bored to tears. So just go. Now.
Summer is coming, and once the playgrounds get too hot and the malls get too hectic, the movie theaters are a favorite place for the overworked mom to take her kids for some air conditioning and some, er, quiet time. If this is you, you may be looking forward to catching up on some of the newest hits. But depending on the age(s) of your kid(s), you may instead be dreading seeing a whole slew of G-rated movies that you yourself have no real interest in. So do yourself a favor and get in some cinema time before your kids are out for the summer. See something with violence and profanity, or the latest sappy romance, or whatever floats your boat. And enjoy spending a little less on concessions while you can.
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Are you a secret (or not-so-secret) video gamer? Come summer break, you’ll suddenly have a lot more competition for your ultra-powerful computer or the gaming console. If you’re still working to beat your latest fav RPG or even if you just want to have some mindless time to play the current trendy MMO, now is the time to do it. Just think: no kids whining about being bored or asking when their turn is. No noise at all from the rest of the world.
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Obviously every day can’t be a spa day (though we wish it could be!), but surely you can fit in one last massage before the kids are free for the summer! It’s so much easier to relax into it when you know your kids are busy at school, as opposed to wrecking the house or playing tricks on a babysitter. Maybe now is the time to splurge on that extra 30 minutes, or the aromatherapy option, or the hot stones, or whatever extras will help you chill out and get ready for the next few months. You are absolutely worth it.
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When you stay home full-time, you no doubt cherish what little bit of quiet time you can carve out for yourself in the middle of the day, whether you actually use that quiet time or not. It might be in between laundry and starting dinner, or it might be a quick check-in during your lunch hour, but whenever it comes, it’s nice to be able to enjoy a quiet house. But once the kiddos are off for the summer, say goodbye to quiet time. You’ll instead be filling those minutes with breaking up fights or fielding complaints of boredom or doing a million other things that aren’t napping. So do it now. Nap. And then, in a month, when you’re lying on the couch wishing that you could just be alone for five minutes, at least you can remember that glorious nap and smile.