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I Am a Better Mom in the Summer

Soon the back to school commercials will be coming out, with images of parents skipping through aisles of No. 2 pencils, binders and lunch boxes, the sound systems blasting, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The message is parents cannot wait to get their kids back into a routine and out of their hair.

Not me. I dread September and have been known to literally sob while packing new school supplies in backpacks with the tags still on them, staining crisp notebooks with tears. I have sent my kids to the first day of school with sand in their hair, because I couldn’t pull myself off the beach early enough for proper bathing. I love summer for all the obvious reasons. The days are warm and long, and the nights are cool and fun. More than this though, I love actually being the mother I think I am.

In my head, I am a relaxed, easy-going mom who enjoys every minute of raising my kids. I love motherhood, and I am good at it. I’m not super mom, as much as I am hippie-chick, “dude, it’s all good” mom. I don’t raise my voice, I spend my day reading to my younger kids, laughing with my older kids, cutting up watermelon and making ice cube tray orange juice pops with toothpicks. I say “yes” when my kids ask me to play, I softly encourage my kids to explore, learn and imagine, and I do it all with a smile on my face. O.K. So, that is the mom I am in my head, a character of fiction, but also the mom I wish I could be. While I might not be this mom consistently for all ten weeks, I am much closer to her during the summer, than I am during the school year.

During the school year, I feel less like a free-spirited kind of a mom, and more like an evil-spirited, haunting kind of a mom. Frantic, stressed and impatient, managing five schedules in addition to my own, is often like fighting a war. “C’mon! We have to go, NOW!! We are already late,” is my battle-cry. I like being a mom so much more in the summer, and I realize it is because I feel like I am doing a better job. I’ve given a lot of thought to how I can carry nice, happy, patient mom into the fall months, and have decided it is impossible. I am not even going to try. All of the things which make me better when school is out, disappear when school is in.

Here is why I am a better mother in the summer:

— No one has to get to stupid soccer practice, which not only saves me from having to find smelly shin guards, but saves me from the incessant group texts trying to figure out carpooling.

— When they are driving me crazy, I can lock the kids out of the house. I guess you can do this at any time of year, but during the winter, Child Protective Services may be alerted.

— Kids are more independent in the summer. There is something in the air which inspires creativity and self-reliance. I milk the independence for all it is worth, encouraging a “fend for yourself” culture.

— When we have to go out, no one has to find coats, hats and gloves. Everyone can be a mess, because messy is cute in the summer. Schedules are more lax, so “late” isn’t part of our vocabulary.

— The kids sleep later, which simply means my mornings are quieter and more pleasant.

— My conversations with other adults cover more than lacrosse coaches, bake sales and school gossip.

— No one has homework, so I can make dinner without having to remember the quadratic equation or the capital of Wyoming (Cheyenne — see, my brain even works better in the summer.)

— Speaking of dinner, in July and August, it is completely acceptable to have waffles with ice cream, hot dogs from the ice cream truck or to just skip it entirely.

— It is also completely acceptable to drink wine during the day.

— Finally, I am a better mom in the summer because my kids are more relaxed and happier.

THAT’S IT!! So simple — Better Kids = Better Mother.

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About Dr. Karen Latimer

I’m a family physician now struggling to take care of a bunch of kids who keep calling me Mom. When I’m not wiping butts, refereeing sibling rivalry and chauffeuring over-scheduled little people, I write a family medical blog that gives you five thoughts on all sorts of different health topics.

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