“Is everyone’s kid staying up past 10p in the summer or am I the only shitty parent?” a friend of mind asked in a Facebook post the other day.
“It’s summer!” replied one mom. “Not only does my kid stay up late, he also hasn’t had a bath in a week and he turns the TV on first thing when he wakes up and eats a bowl of sugary cereal while watching cartoons!”
I laughed. Because it was funny, but mostly because it was true. My husband and I spend September through May force feeding our kids vitamins, fruits, and vegetables, we limit screen time and overdose them with books, we schedule activities, shower them regularly, and stuff them into bed at an appropriate hour.
The minute school is out, though, it’s all popsicles for dinner and, hey, just be happy you’re getting dinner at all. It’s important to set clear boundaries so kids know they’re loved enough to develop in a healthy and happy manner. But it’s equally important that they have just as much time to be kids. And if summertime isn’t kid-time, then what is?
Here are 9 ways parenting rules go out the door in the summer:
1. Formal family dinners
Raspberries and soft-serve ice cream for dinner? Sure. Oh, and if by dinner you mean the third time you eat today, whatever time that might be, and, really, whatever you can find to shove in your mouth as you run back into the house to fill up your water gun, then, yes.
2. Proper hygiene
You swam? Ran through the sprinklers? Sweated? It’s water, right? Then we’re all good!
3. Regular bedtimes
Bedtime is when it finally gets dark at 8:30, unless there are fireworks, barbecues, sleepovers, s’mores, rainstorms, outdoor movies, or it’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
4. Sick days
Runny nose? Sore throat? Run it off.
We don’t need no stinkin’ laundry. Wear a swimsuit all day. Wear the grass-stained shorts from yesterday. No clean underwear? Go commando, kid. YOLO.
6. Forced family time
Weekends during the school year are all about family togetherness as we’re stuffed in the car driving from soccer games to hockey practice and then on to the first of four birthday parties in 20 hours. We’ll see you in the fall, kids. Go find your friends and frolic.
7. Screen doors and screen time
Keep the screen door shut and keep your screen on. Make that the rule, and watch how the latter stays off because the former is always open.
8. Sugar limits
During the school year, dessert is a treat that occurs once daily, at best. In summertime, dessert is a food group wherein the recommended daily allowance is three servings.
9. Schedules of any sort
School years are ripe for schedules (and over-scheduling). Summertime is for easy living. There are rules, sure: Sleep in, play hard, have fun.