By Joan Goodchild
The back-to-school ads are already airing on television, and the aisles at Target and Walmart are now stocked with new pencils, notebooks, markers and backpacks. They serve as a reminder that we only have a few more weeks of summer left before the yellow school bus will once again start arriving at the foot of my driveway each weekday.
?I's a working mother, so, even in the summer, my children are still in some kind of structured environment, such as camp or daycare, on most days. But in the afternoons, when I's done with my work and ready to pick them up, there is no school work or extracurricular activities we have to attend – just lots of delicious free, easy time and hours of sunlight still ahead to enjoy together.
?I often wish I could be the summertime version of the parent I am all year long. Only in summer can we find at least a dozen activities that keep us occupied outdoors – from swimming, to bike riding, to roasting marshmallows in the backyard, to long walks through the woods on the hunt for fairy houses. By day's end, we'se done so much, and expended so much energy, that my children crash easily into their beds – ready to dream of the fun that lay ahead tomorrow.
There's a well-known saying about parenting that the days are long, but the years are short. I can's help but to feel that most acutely during the summer months. There are days when the hours seem to drag on as you'se trying to find creative ways to keep young children occupied in the heat. But, once summer passes, so, too, does another season of your time together as parent and child.
Yes, these summer days are long, but, like childhood, the season is not nearly long enough.
?Within a few weeks, the weather will once again turn cooler. Soon, those precious hours of extra sunlight will be taken from us and we'sl find we need a sweater while hanging around the backyard fire pit. It fills me with a feeling of melancholy knowing those longs days will soon be done and fall will bring us back to structured days, less free time, more focus on work again.
?In these remaining weeks, I'sl make sure to savor the time we have left and get in at least one more bike ride around the block, one more trip to the beach, one more chance to roast marshmallows and watch the fireflies. I'sl remain in the present, and do my best to relish the sheer joy that is experiencing summer with my children.