If there’s one thing I love about living out in suburbia, it’s that summertime offers a host of family-friendly activities that are easily accessible from my very own driveway. And so every summer, I compile a list (usually just in my head) of things I want to do before Labor Day rolls around (because as we all know, no matter how old we are, summer just seems to fly by).
But here’s the problem: While these activities always seem like fun in theory, they tend to be less so in practice. And a big reason has to do with the kids—well, my kids. And not so much my toddler, as my twin infant daughters, who are a handful (though my toddler can be quite demanding in his own right).
So with that in mind, here’s my (now-abridged) bucket list for the summer of 2016:
1. Go to the beach—and stay there for more than 15 minutes.
One major benefit of living near the beach is being able to pick up and go when we please. On the other hand, hauling a toddler plus a pair of infants is a pretty substantial chore given the amount of stuff we have to take with us to experience a couple of hours of sand and sun.
First, there’s the diaper bag, which needs to be amply stocked. Then there’s the bathing suits, spare bathing suits, clothing, spare clothing, towels, beach toys, sunscreen, water, milk, food, and coolers to store said milk and food. Even though we can get to a local beach in about 20 minutes, between traffic, parking, and all the prep, it’s easily a 90-minute process to get from our living room to the nearest kid-friendly boardwalk.
And it’d be worth it if it weren’t for the fact that my kids tend to get bored very quickly, in which case I am not (I repeat, NOT) going through that hassle and, oh yeah, paying the beach fees (‘cause they’re not all free) for a mere 12 minutes of sandcastle-building and splashing.
2. Go kayaking.
My husband and I love kayaking, and we even know a place that lets you bring littles provided you show up with the appropriate safety equipment. The trick there is getting our daughters to actually sit in our laps long enough for us to get some paddling time in. Both of my daughters are big-time wigglers. Sitting still is not something they’re interested in, which, incidentally, makes any activity that involves a car ride a challenge unto itself.
I can therefore see our kayaking adventure going something like this: Load kids into kayaks. Pick up paddle. Watch as infant squirms out of lap and into open water. Dive in to retrieve infant. Topple kayak in process. Get back in and shake off seawater. Repeat.
3. Sip a nice, cold drink while overlooking the ocean.
I don’t think this is so much to ask. It doesn’t even have to be an alcoholic drink—heck, a chilled lemonade will do—and my only goal is to be able to sit there and sip it for five uninterrupted minutes while breathing in ocean air and taking in a scenic view. If we could somehow swap that lemonade for, say, sangria, even better, but I won’t be picky.
4. Attend an outdoor concert.
As much as I love my kids, sometimes it’s nice to do things without them, like go to concerts. Plus, we happen to live right near an outdoor venue that typically features a decent summer lineup. The problem? Buying tickets.
While they don’t tend to be particularly expensive in our neck of the woods, you do need to buy them in advance, which means booking a babysitter several weeks out, and hoping nothing comes up last-minute to spoil an otherwise perfect date night. And in my experience, the more you have to lose by canceling a date last-minute (i.e. a $100 pair of concert tickets), the more likely your plans are to fall through for one reason or another.
While I’d be super thrilled to do any of the aforementioned activities this summer, in reality, I’m also going to work on keeping my priorities intact. Yes, adults are most certainly allowed to enjoy the summer, but at this point in my life, I need to make it all about the kids.
And if that means schlepping to the beach only to retreat to our minivan 17 minutes later, so be it. At the end of the day, giving my kids a fun, memorable summer is the #1 item on my bucket list—though I really hope I can somehow manage that ocean-side sangria along the way.
What’s on your bucket list for this summer?