Sweet summertime. Slow and simple. Fun and playful. And as a mom, loaded with logistics. Every adventure takes full blown strategic planning. Let's break down the "morning at the pool" adventure with my 1 and 2 year olds. Here are the steps one must account for:
Prep Time: 1 hour
1 - Drag naked runaway 2 year old out from under the coffee table and wrestle her 85 limbs into a swim suit.
2 - Take off the suit because it was the obvious wrong choice. Choose the correct suit.
3 - Drag naked runaway 2 year old out of the closet and wrestle her 85 limbs into the right swimsuit.
4 - Track down the baby and pry swimsuit she's been carrying around the house from her tiny steel trap fist and wrestle her 1000 limbs into swim diaper and swim suit.
5 - Smell poop.
6 - Take off 1 year old swim suit, change swim diaper, and replace swim suit on body.
7 - Referee a fight over sunscreen.
8 - Apply sunscreen to two tiny moving targets.
9 - Pack bag with towels, hats, sunscreen, extra swim diapers, dry clothes, regular diapers and wipes. Put the bag by the door.
10 - Pack snacks and water bottles and fight with the 2 year old over why she can't have them all now.
11 - Put on my swimsuit while 1 year old unpacks bag and 2 year old eats snacks.
12 - Repeat steps 9 and 10.
13 - Load all humans and bags into car. Be sure to let 2 year old open the front door, jump off the bottom step and climb in the car through the front seat to her car seat.
14 - Buckle everyone and put the car in reverse.
15 - 2 year old announces she has to potty.
16 - Unload everyone. Let two year old potty. This means choosing which potty she wants, which sink in the house to wash her hands in, and a few songs.
17 - Repeat steps 13-14.
15 - Drive to pool, unload babies and bags.
Swim Adventure: 30 minutes
1 - Let everyone get in the water, splash, squeal, enjoy the pool.
2 - 2 year old announces she's all done. 1 year old follows her lead.
Wrap up: 1.5 hours
1: Enjoy snacks by the pool. Ensure snacks are divided equally and console whoever spills something.
2: Change baby into dry diaper and clothes.
3: Assess 2 year old. Is she dry enough to ride home or does she need to change? She will need time for her opposing arguments.
4: Gather wet belongings, including children, and proceed to the car.
5: Begin car loading process. Listen to 2 year old debate whether she should "hang and drop" into her car seat, slide in, jump in, or slither in like a snake.
6: Make sure everyone has "something to hold" on the way home.
7: Drive home singing loudly, hoping to avoid car naps.
8: Upon arrival back home, unload wet belongings, including children.
9: If meal time, feed children. No matter that they just had pool snacks.
10: Wrangle two now exhausted fussy children into the tub to wash chlorine and sunscreen from their sensitive skin.
11: Calmly administer baths while children scream that they are not tired.
12: Negotiate with the tiny tyrant 2 year old to potty before nap. Promise anything she wants when she wakes up if she will just empty her bladder.
13: Clean clothes, clean babies, snuggles, books, kisses, sleep.
14: Victory dance (in my still damp swimsuit and cover up).
Rinse and repeat a few times a day, with a few minor adjustments based on the specifics of the adventure.
So my point is that I want a simple, slow summer. But even simple takes effort in this mom life. Just getting them dressed and in the car takes high levels of grit and perseverance. But that's life, folks. It's work to be in charge of tiny humans. And even simple is rarely ever simple. So, let's just embrace the effort it takes to be simple. The work itself never ends, but we can choose our perspective on all the effort. We can slow to the pace of our toddlers. Because why are we actually in such a hurry? We can laugh through the potty accidents, tantrums, marker all over the body, trying to escape the house naked moments. Because why can't it be a little bit funny? We can choose to embrace the work because the work is the real adventure of parenting. It's the good stuff that shapes our kids. My 2 year old might not remember that I packed the best pool snacks or that her 2 year old summer was filled with all the best age appropriate activities, carefully selected to give her a range of "experiences". But she might take something else from this summer. Something bigger. Something that becomes part of her. She might not remember a single experience, but she might grow more confident from not being rushed, more empathetic from being listened to, more kind from being put first, and more creative from being told no. If I can reframe the work as the adventure then we're in for a crazy fun ride. Cheers to summer. And pool snacks.