If you'd spied on me the other night as I walked home from my commute, this is what you would have seen: A woman walking by a running sprinkler, stopping in her tracks, dropping her tote bag, hopping onto the lawn, and walking back and forth through the streams of water. It might have seemed like I'd lost it. But really, I'd had a long day at work and needed a flash of f-u-n.
Summertime is deceiving: It seems like it should be all breezy and easy. And in some ways, life does get less tedious for parents — you don't have to dress your kids in 12 layers before they head outside, dinner can be as quick as barbecued burgers, and you're not dealing with constant bouts of kiddie cabin fever. Then again, if your kids aren't in camp you have to keep them entertained. And of course, there's still a house to take care of and chores to do. Moms don't get a summer vacay because somehow, we forgot to include that in our parenting contracts.
While I'm not advocating that you trespass on a neighbor's lawn, there are a bunch of small, easy, totally legal tactics I've discovered that make me feel like I'm enjoying the season, not just surviving it. Hope they give you a summer break, too.
#1. Make a Dairy Queen run … alone
There's something incredibly delicious about jumping into the car by yourself at 9:00 p.m. to get a soft-serve cone with rainbow jimmies – not to mention downing it without anyone asking for a lick.
#2. Give yourself a time-out from chores
Pick several days during the week where you are not allowed to do any household work whatsoever. OK, so you'll have to stay up a little later on other nights to do laundry, dust, whatever. It's worth it: Taking mini vacations from chores is freeing.
#3. Try the oscillating sprinkler babysitter
It doesn't just water the grass, it waters the kids. Years ago, we got one for ten bucks at the hardware store. I attach it to a hose, the kids happily run through it again and again, and I chill on the deck with some iced tea. This never gets old – for the kids or me.
#4. Have a backyard beach afternoon
For this, you will need: one lounge chair, one fluffy towel, one beach read, one pitcher of frosty drinks, a bunch of your favorite snacks, and one partner who will take the kids out for the afternoon.
#5. Do a pedicure swap
Make plans with a friend or neighbor to watch each others' kids so you can take turns heading out for pedicures. Staring down at polished toes that make you feel pampered: priceless.
#6. Grab a blanket and a bucket of beer (just not the baby)
One of my favorite summer treats: a date-night outdoor concert with my husband, ideally with lawn seats. We haven't yet figured out where we'll head this year but last summer, we snagged discount tickets to see James Taylor and packed a picnic. Relaxing, romantic, and generally awesome.
#7. Keep a face chiller handy
Simple but heavenly: Place a spray bottle in the fridge filled with water, spritz on at random. Or try one of those facial sprays (I like a rose-scented one). Insta-aaah!
Alas, if you spritz it on a kid when she's having an "I'm sooooooooo booooooored" meltdown, it won't do a darn thing.