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In many parts of the country, school has started or is about to begin very soon. Kids and parents everywhere are rushing around store to store looking for the Ticonderoga pencils required on the school list (seriously, buy them on Amazon. So much easier) and “No! You cannot go play outside in your brand new school shoes”, is echoing across the land. Moms everywhere are starting to settle into the idea of back to school for their little ones and along with it the feeling of “Mom guilt” is probably creeping in.
I don’t know about any of you, but I seem to always get this sense of guilt at the end of summer. You see, we make a list at the end of school of things we want to do with our kid during summer vacation, and by the end of summer, many of these things are not crossed off. I start to think, “did we waste another whole summer? We barely crossed anything off our summer bucket list.” And, let’s be real, I make these lists for most seasons and for one reason or another the list gets forgotten about, and I feel horrible for depriving my kid of the joys of the zoo and beach trips. After all, they are only little for so long.
Moms, we need to have a chat. We beat ourselves up endlessly while ignoring the things we do with our children. We tend to focus on the things we wanted to do, and we completely blow off the experiences and memories we give our child. The mom guilt of the unchecked summer vacation list gets to me, and I know that I need to stop. Just today I asked my son what were some things from the list we didn’t do that he would really like to do. I didn’t show him the list I just asked what we didn’t get to that he would like to do before school started.
You guys, all he said was, “Go to Altitude.” Altitude for those who don’t know is just another of those indoor trampoline places. We like to go in the winter when he’s getting a little stir crazy because it’s too damn cold in New Hampshire for him to want to go outside.
That’s when it hit me. I have been stressing over this list for absolutely nothing. My seven-year-old doesn’t even remember the things on that list, and you wanna know why? Because I convinced myself that by checking off those lists, he would have a great summer and that was the only way that was going to happen. Holy crap I was so wrong. I started talking to him because now I was interested in his favorite things we did this summer. Only one of those things from our summer vacation list made his list of favorites. ONLY ONE!
The things he liked the most? The unplanned little moments like going to Hayward’s for ice cream (linking their site here for anyone in the Southern New Hampshire area that loves ice cream) instead of going to bed, going to the National Night Out held by our local police department and seeing a car ripped apart with the jaws of life, and going to my parents house for his own vacation while my husband and I went on ours. Oh, and painting sun catchers that I got for like 40 cents at a Wal*Mart that was going out of business.
Pretty much all of those things were just in the moment decisions, and they turned out to be his favorites, and I’d be willing to guess that if you ask your child what their favorite thing this summer was, they may also say something that wasn’t planned.
How to beat the Mom Guilt of summer vacation
We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. To give our children the world but here’s the thing, our image of “the world” and theirs can be totally different. I firmly believe that social media is no help when it comes to the mom guilt too because how can we not compare ourselves to the mom down the road who always seems to be having adventures with her child, right?
Moms, I need you to adjust your thinking. Stop focusing on what you envisioned the perfect summer looking like and have a seat with your child(ren). I want you to do what I did and look at their sweet sticky face and ask, “what was your favorite thing from this summer?” I want you to avoid asking about specific things you wanted to do, and I want you to focus on the things you did do.
To beat the mom guilt, we have to have a mindset shift, and yes, I’m well aware that it’s easier said than done. I mean, I’m probably just writing this for my future self because I’ll bet you anything I’ll still make a list the last day of school next year, not complete it, and be right back here in a year. Why? Because it’s what I do. But don’t focus on that because a new school year is upon us and believe me, we will have plenty of other opportunities to beat ourselves up (can we say birthday parties?).
Mama, you are doing a good job. If your kids have a smile on their face, food in their belly, a roof over their head, and clean clothes on their back, you are doing a good job. Now, go hug your little nugget and tell them you love them.