I have felt super mom guilt recently. We’ve turned down trips to the pool, to the zoo, to other outdoor venue playdates for the last few weeks, and I have a feeling this is going to continue for a little while longer.
A couple of reasons. I have an 8 week old who really shouldn’t be outside in 100 degree weather, strapped into a car seat or a baby carrier, sweating and uncomfortable. Secondly, for the first month of summer, I was recovering from my c-section, and couldn’t really do many of the physical tasks required by these particular play dates. And now, although I have my strength back, I still can’t manage all three kids in a venue that will require us to be outside for long periods of time. We’ve been to the playground on some 80 degree days, but generally, we’ve stayed inside.
But everywhere I turn, there are ads for fun outdoor parks and outdoor recreation. Online articles that say you are wasting your summer if you don’t spend the majority of it outside exploring. Constant reminders to not let summer go by without being creative and being outdoors, because the time will be gone before you know it!! And reading these essays just makes me feel worse.
What are we doing? Well, my son is in camp one day a week. We go to the library. We go swimming on the weekends, when my husband and I can tag team. We play a lot at home; puzzles, toys, coloring, painting, baking. Occasionally, we go to friends houses. We go grocery shopping, and we go to Target. We have plans to play at mall playgrounds, and to do a few other indoor activities, like the trampoline park and the children’s museum. And on some days, the tv has been on a little more than I normally allow.
The other day, I was talking to a friend, and I mentioned this whole thing; my tremendous mom guilt over not providing my children with the best outdoor summer. And you know what she said? “You just had a baby. When I had my daughter in the early summer, the same thing happened. This will be the summer you stay inside. It’s okay.”
Oh yeah. I JUST HAD A BABY. I’m still nursing around the clock, I’m still up two to three times per night, and I’m still trying to figure out how to handle this whole three kid thing.
This woman was the perfect person to run into that day. Why don’t we ever give ourselves grace? Why do we always push ourselves to the limit with every single thing? If my kids don’t get a chance to play outside every day in 100 degree heat for one summer, it’ll be okay. And honestly? It’s been kind of nice to hibernate in our house doing puzzles and playing. I actually colored two pictures in my daughter’s coloring book today.
Summer is about relaxation and letting go of all the pressures, right? So maybe this summer, I’ll just readjust my expectations. And I’ll try to make it to the pool, to the zoo, the beach, and to all the other outdoor fun things, but if we don’t, well, there’s always next year. And for now, it’s been pretty fun to watch the games my kids come up with when they’re home together all afternoon and not being constantly entertained by daily visits to various parks. I’m giving them lots of chances to use their imaginations. And that itself, can be pretty exciting.
So if you’re in a situation like me, I just want to say, give yourself some grace. You’re doing fine. It’s all OK.