Slow. That’s how we’ve been moving lately. My usual up and at ‘em, “where are we going today?”, ready and raring by 8:30 am children have settled this August into the ease of summer. Early risers to the core, they wake with the sun but have found contentment sitting around in pajamas, eating later breakfasts, and finding plenty to do in their own playroom, sorting through piles of books and choo-choo tracks and dolls and Moana figures.
It’s been a struggle some days to get out of the house before 9:30 - a first for us, really. Not that we have much to do. August makes me want to pull my hair out. This in-between period (summer activities having ended a solid six weeks before the fall ones begin) needs something - anything - to give us some routine. There’s no more t-ball or story time at the library, preschool and dance class have yet to begin. Thinking of something to do every morning and afternoon is proving to be a bit much, to put it mildly. Yesterday found me paralyzed by overwhelm on the couch, as the long stretch of afternoon lay before me: what on earth were we going to do for the rest of the day? Did I really have to entertain three little people for another three entire hours before dinner time? (Solution: pull out the pool and water table, invite a neighbor over, drink some water. But not before I lay there filled with dread for a few minutes too long. Jesus, take the wheel.)
Some days it’s as simple as that. And while I try to keep on top of planning playdates and giving some sort of structure to our days, five mornings and five afternoons is waaayyyy too much free time. One morning goes to grocery shopping, another one or two to cleaning, but after our 12th trip to the park in ten days I’m ready to move on to something more regular. Activities that require me to show up with children in tow and plan approximately nothing besides having snacks on hand for hangry toddlers.
The upside to all this is that they’ve found their footing in independent play. Caden and Brooklyn rush away after breakfast to build elaborate train tracks that wind their way through the main level (a tripping hazard for the rest of the day), zoom their cars around the street-pattered rug, and play complicated games of “neighborhood” that involve going to the store, sleeping, waking up (“The sun is up! It’s morning!”), going to work, and giving each other time-outs (a three-year old’s perspective of Life As A Grown-Up). “Do you want to play neighborhood?” one asks the other, and they rush away, Nolan tagging along behind.
So I don’t do super great with slow. I am more than ready for routine, a reason to be out of the house before the clock rolls over to 10:00. Summer is great and all, but even as a kid I was always ready for school to start back up again.
Fast isn’t exactly my speed either. Every-day-all-day-go-go-go sounds equally unappealing. I just need a bit more structure. Some options, so that the days we don’t have plans feel actually relaxing, instead of another in a long line of do-nothing days.
Can I crave something a bit more medium? Medium sounds good. A medium pace I can get behind. I think we’ve got that set up for fall. A few mornings of commitment, afternoons mostly free, one evening activity. The countdown is on.
Love ya summer, but I’m ready to move on. It’s not you, it’s me. (Well, maybe it’s a little bit you with that hot, humid weather and all. But mostly it's me.)
This afternoon, I leaned into the slow a bit, as best I could. The semi-cool weather has me dreaming of fall, and with the apple orchard opening for the season, my destination was clear. We sure as heck weren't going to the park again. (Not to mention the apple orchard is a 30-minute drive. An hour in the car where it only feels like I’m parenting because Wheels on the Bus is on repeat? Yes, please.)
Fall hasn't quite taken over the orchard yet: the hayrides, props for photo ops, the elaborate stacks of hay bales and dried corn stalks were not yet the decor of choice. I knew as much, but also knew that an open field next to a lake would provide just as much opportunity for entertainment.
And a stop inside for the first apple treats of the season? Pretty much perfect. (Apple donuts FTW!)
The phrases "Let's go!" and "Hurry up!" are going to be peppering my speech a bit more in the coming weeks. If you couldn't tell (ha!), there's a big part of me that's totally and completely fine with that. At least we embraced the slow today: throwing sticks in the lake, jumping off the giant tree stump, and enjoying the apple orchard pretty much to ourselves before it becomes completely overtaken for the season. And for now, I have three more fresh apple donuts to get me through the meantime. Or at least the next few hours.