By Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
For the record, I voted for year-round school. I was a teacher for seven years, and it is my firm opinion that because the only farming kids do these days is on Farmville, there is no need for a three-month break in the middle of summer. (While I'm making myself unpopular, I'm also pro-uniforms and gender-segregated math and science classes.) But because I didn't get my wish, my kids are now home with me 24/7. I'll admit that my first reaction was to (dearly) miss the precious two hours of peace I had when all the kidlets were at school or napping, but now that the first week is almost finished I've begun to see the bright side!
This Mom's Favorite Things About Summer Vacation:
1. No socks! Socks are a pain to wash, match, and retrieve from all the cracks in the couch, but since socks and shoes are required for gym class we roll with it. But these summer days, we're in flip flops or Crocs all the time. Or bare feet. I could write an ode to how much I love pudgy toddler toes!
2. No homework! Sure the kids like this one, but I have to admit that it's nice to not have to sit with them for two hours every night while they cry their way through 20 minutes worth of story problems. They still do learning activities, but without the pressure of a due date or test, there are a lot less tears.
4. No coats! Some of you live in fabled places where it is warm year-round and you never experience the thrill of your boogers freezing inside your nostrils. Here, it's a 45-minute production to get everyone into snow pants, mittens, hats, coats, scarves, socks (!!) and boots before heading to the bus stop. In May.
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5. No bus tickets! Who knew that my kids would find the loophole in the bus rules? "Well it didn't say we couldn't use a marker to color our hands and then make hand prints on the back of the seat!" (Yes, and it also didn't say you have to write an apology letter to the bus driver, but you'll be doing that too.)
6. No snack days! Oh, the halcyon days when a box of fish crackers and a bottle of apple juice would suffice! These days between all the rules (no peanuts, no gluten, no homemade goodies) and the parental peer pressure ("On my day I provided only the finest organic smoked gouda cheese strings, champagne grapes and individual bags of Annie's Organic tie-dyed bunny crackers"), snack day is both anxiety-filled and expensive. My last preschool contribution cost me $18! To feed kids that would lick butter off the floor and call it dinner!
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7. No fights with friends! Because that's what they have siblings for, obviously. I didn't birth four of them in seven years so they could all be best friends, share inside jokes and have even teams for Monopoly. Oh wait, yes I did.
8. No haircuts! Between the humidity and their thick curly locks, my boys look like Hobbits all summer and I love it.
9. No explaining "the F word," "the S word," and "the bird" they learned on the playground. Although we'll likely have to revisit it when they read all the t-shirts at the State Fair. (The one downside to having an early reader: "Mom, what does 'girls are just boobs with legs mean?'")
10. The beach. Ahhhh.
What hidden benefits have you found to summer vacation?
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a mom of five and the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and the blog of the same name.
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