48 Hours Into Summer Break: A Report

It’s 48 hours into summer break now. The toilet is clogged and the toilet paper dispenser has finally, after dangling by a thread for years, been ripped completely off the wall.

It’s 48 hours into summer break, and my kids have watched at least 36 cumulative hours of screens, played outside for 12, fussed for 8, been bored for 16 and also, nothing is fair. Nothing

It’s 48 hours into summer break , and I’ve done 7 loads of laundry which means only infinity left to go.

It’s 48 hours into summer break now, and there are sticks and rocks and sand and water on the floors inside my house. And one million Nerf bullets. And countless Goldfish refugees. And thousands of ramen noodle shards. And 9 discarded toast crusts. And 4 pairs of used undies. And that’s just in the family room.

It’s 48 hours into summer break, and I don’t know what’s for dinner. Probably something I forgot to defrost, Kids, just like always, ’cause not everything changes in the summer. 

It’s 48 hours into summer break, and we’ve begun our summer chore chart on a giant piece of poster board. So far, I’ve only had to argue with 3 out of 5 kids about chores, and only one of those has earned 7 extra jobs for being a total punky butt nugget about it. It’s OK, though. Don’t worry about a thing. In the next 48 hours, the remaining 2 kids will become punky butt nuggets, too, and 48 hours after that, I’ll realize it’s not worth my time or effort to maintain and the entire thing will fail utterly. We’ll be back to filth and squalor in no time, I swear. See: State of the Family Room for more information.

It’s 48 hours into summer break, and the calendar is filled to the brim with camps and appointments and get-togethers and go, Go, GO. How does this happen? Seriously. Every year. How??

It’s 48 hours into summer break, and I’m excited for the trips we’ve planned and the pictures we’ll take and the laughs we’ll have and fact that we won’t be late to one single school drop-off or miss any homework assignments ’til September. 

It’s 48 hours into summer break, and I feel a little breathless about how to spend time with my kids, and time with my friends, and time with my family, and time with my husband, and time with myself, all of whom have let me know recently – and kindly – that they feel kind of short-changed at what I can offer them. And they’re right. I can’t offer any of them all of what they need from me. Not even myself. 

It’s 48 hours into summer break, and I’m beginning to understand that releasing my feelings of inadequacy – of not-enoughness – isn’t a one-time or short-term event. It’s like learning to be healthy and learning to be free and learning to be unapologetically myself, a forever event that will take a lifetime to master. Like cleaning the family room and doing the laundry. It just goes on and on, you know? To infinity.

It’s 48 hours into summer break, and I know already it’s going to be a complete and utter mess, except when it’s magnificent. And mundane, except when it’s magical. And that we’ll fail and succeed and fail and succeed and fail again – at things and each other. And somehow, strangely, that’s OK this year. It is, I suspect more and more, what it means to be family and what it means to love one another. To be not enough sometimes. But to be not enough together. 

So, tell me… are you on school break? If so, how far in are you and what’s your report? 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
27 comments
  1. I take care of other people’s children during the school year in a before/after school program.

    And during the summer, we combine our school programs into one location and have 39 kids.
    Every single day.

    What are we doing?

    “drive in” movies. Everyone gets a box and the materials to turn it into a car. We’re going to watch a movie. They will have to walk to the concession stand, though.

    We’re taking field trips. The fire department, search and rescue, OMSI, Mad Science, a reptile guy, a writer, and assorted other people are going to come visit us.

    We will do yoga. Play outside on the playground. Play in the gym. Plant flowers. Sing silly camp songs. Make a million different crafts. Laugh. Take photos.

    I’ll be going through all my supplies here at home and reading on Pinterest and other places for more ideas.

    I’ve been doing this for 10 years.
    (After my own kids grew up I missed hanging out with kids.)

    Feel free to steal ideas.

    Check out a blog called That Artist Woman for some cool projects.
    Do science experiments. Check out The Backyard Scientist from your local library.
    Get duct tape and a book and make things out of duct tape.

    Enjoy the summer. Sleep in.

  2. We are two days in-the weekend doesn’t count does it? I was so excited to have them home with me all summer, but the first day I realized that days are LONG. I can have 3 great ideas of things to do, and then we have HOURS left before bedtime. Drat. I guess we’ll figure it out. I still love to have them around.

  3. 10 days in! Child 2 had major surgery day one, home getting better now . Child 1 had college orientation 8 hrs away .. Child 4 had a birthday while hubby and child 1 were gone at said orientation…Squeeze in a couple days of work and getting child 4&5 ready for church camp… Which starts tomorrow… I’m exhausted and really don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel .. 8 weeks til we move the first one to college..I’d just like to got to the beach for the day… We’ll see if happens!! Love your blog! I TOTALLY RELATE… And makes me feel not so alone:) thanks!

  4. hmm.. I have no idea how long we have been on summer break… maybe a week?? or is it two??? anyway, I have packed up a house and five kids and moved halfway across the country to join my hubby where he finally got a job. We are staying at my dad’s house until we can move into our new home — which may or may not be this week. During this time we have had meltdowns (me, mostly) missed a train, thrown up, gotten nosebleeds, broken things, forgotten things, yelled too much, slept too little gotten bad news, gotten worse news… thought things were looking up, and hoping the other shoe doesn’t fall. We have also finally gotten to be under the same roof as my hubby for the first time in almost two months ~~ just in time for father’s day ~~ and gotten to swim and chill out and maybe just maybe have a new house to move into. God is good, but life is hard. When does school start again?

  5. 72 hours into summer break here.

    They’ve already spent way too much time on the computer, youngest missed a birthday party but got to ride in a go-kart for the first time, and one is off to a baseball game with Dad today. I’ve rolled my eyes at my loud neighbors, and audibly coveted their big blue chicken statue on their deck, and bought fresh strawberries. Youngest son will be going away to camp, assuming I get the paperwork turned in on time. They will be bored. We’ll take them away for a week at a medieval re-enactment war, and they will be bored, excited, and silly.

    It will be chaotic. It will be loud. It will be wonderful.

  6. Our last day of school was 5/23 (we return 8/6), and we have not used the Six Flags or White Water season pass yet. We’ve had all kinds of practices (baseball, basketball, gymnastics) and tournaments every weekend (baseball). We’ve done playdates, sleepovers, swim days, and a river day. I have not cleaned, but we’ve picked up once/week when I can’t see the carpet. Keep in mind, they are ELEVEN AND NINE. lol I TOTALLY remember when they were little and summer literally scared me. WHAT would I do with these little ones ALL. DAY. Looooong? I was reflecting back last week and realized that ages and stages – it’s just a different kind of chaos. And I agree with Nancy above – God’s grace lets you forget the individual popsicle stains and just remember the sweet taste of having kids. 🙂

  7. I love, love, love your blog. Maybe it is because I am a mother of seven. Granted, my kids are grown and it has been awhile since all that chaos took place. It really didn’t seem as hard as I known it must have been. I think it must be the same as labor pains – somehow God doesn’t let you remember what it was like. But, your humor will take you a looong way!

  8. During the first 24 hours, I was at work at my husband was home. They went swimming and had a pleasant day.

    The next 24 hours, I was home and husband was in Eugene. My daughter got bit 3 times by the neighbor’s dog and we went to Urgent Care. Luckily, she was bruised but her skin wasn’t punctured. Then my son got an upset stomach and threw up all evening.

    Hmph.

    On the other hand, I go back to work for four more days this week, and husband will be on his own for that time. And we also haven’t signed anyone up for camps yet. Laundry is done; house is gross; yard hasn’t been seriously weeded in three years. Husband and son are working together to repair our front door, which the kid accidentally broke trying to force it open when it jammed last week.

  9. We are about a month into summer break. Our first summer break (since the youngest was 2) with me working part time outside of the house. I have let the children play far more computer games that is healthy for them while I am gone, in the interests of them not killing each other. No…literally. My 12 year old said ‘we need to play on the computer so we don’t kill each other’. My time at home is spent with them proclaiming how BORED they are every ten seconds. The twelve year old has come up with at least 10 different vocal cues to indicate extreme boredom. We did have a fabulous vacation with extended family, the youngest survived his first sleep-over camp experience, and I survived a day of listening to my roof being reshingled, just in time for the 5 inches of rain that washed all of the dropped roofing nails out of the gutter and into the yard where doubtless SOMEONE is going to run around barefoot this summer despite all my warnings and poke a nail through their foot. (Actually, it will probably be me unthinkingly dashing out barefoot to chase a rabbit out of my garden.)

  10. Oh, and I will definitely be using punky butt nugget.

  11. Goodness, I’m just thinking how glad I am that our kids in the uk don’t break up until end of July. That’s a lot of break to cover…have fun mama xx

  12. 24 hours into summer break and I have kinked my neck (by stretching no less) and gotten stuck in town while my children slept at home because the key to my husband’s car only works if you jiggle it “just right” and 2 out of 3 times wasn’t bad so I took a nap in the parking lot waiting for him to come, with all the kids, and actually start the car.
    and I’m pretty sure we will be away from home more than we are at home this summer and that is scaring me just a little bit… I’m thinking back to 2009 when I only had 1 child and we were gone for something like 29 days and slept in 7 different places in that time.
    Whew. I’m tired already.

    1. This may not help, but just in case ….

      If you have a “smart” key that gives you remote unlocking of your doors, do you know you can have your significant other ‘play’ the key over the mobile phone to you, holding the phone next to the car, and it will unlock your car?

      I know, it sounds like complete hokum, but I have actually seen this work.

  13. We are 3 weeks into summer break here. I am on the other side of the fence. My husband stays home and I work. During the school year he is home with our 22 month old twins but once school was out he has the twins and our 5 year old. I was out of town the last week of school and then that first week of Summer was tough. My phone at the office was constantly ringing and by the end of the week he says he is at his breaking point and we have to get the 5 year old into a summer program. I was at my breaking point with all of the phone calls. I think on one of the last ones I told him that moms do this every day and with more than just 3; figure it out. Not nice I know but I was hard for me to concentrate at work and I was really frustrated. It has improved tremendously over the last few weeks thank goodness. Not sure what he figured out but my phone is not ringing so much anymore and chores seem to be picking back up so that’s good. I imagine it’s a huge adjustment and just needed a week to work itself out.

  14. 624 hours in here in New Mexico… I sit exhausted in the rocking chair in my living room. From where I sit I can see, scattered across the room: Legos, books, dollhouse furniture, fairies, socks, shoes, two souped up cardboard box cars, a penguin in a tutu, multiple snack dishes, a jumble of swim bags, back packs and hats for camp…. well, you get the idea. And that is just what I can see in this room. On the other hand, I did somehow haul everything out of the art and crap closet and it only took over a week of blocking the door to the garage to get it cleaned, organized and put away. That is MAJOR.

    And always there is the undercurrent (often not so “under”) of what I find myself calling the extraordinary ordinary. Like today, for example: a morning hike up one of our little local mountains with the kids and their daddy, a man who is a statistical outlier. He should not be with us any more after developing Stage IV cancer, but two years later, here he is and still (hopefully) cancer-free (we are waiting for results from the CT scan this week). There was an unusual riot of cactus blooms along the trail, a lovely breeze, the always-waiting amazing views and a pre-father’s day hike that was not the memorial hike it might have so easily been. Always there is this strange juxtaposition of regular life (I don’t even try to say “normal” any more) and- life, breathing, speaking, touching, sighing, sleeping, eating (oh, eating… his cancer was esophageal; he can eat well again)… just. that. someone still here to amble in the woods with his kids and with me. It stretches one to bursting sometimes, and so I go, all to pieces and then I reassemble and move into another day…

    So, the Daze of Summer indeed. Last year at this time we were in a hospital. This year, we are preparing for something called “vacation.” I am interested in what that looks like…

  15. Our summer break is nearly half over. Projects have not been completed—some not even started. I have gotten rid of some things. Did find everything one girl was instructed to have for camp, got her to the embarkation site on time, got her picked up, and have been treating her sunburn ever since…..showed youngest boy child grace (or just been a doormat?) and let the room cleaning go in favor of fun. Still haven’t used the zoo membership I bought at the beginning of May. Haven’t taken the kids anywhere for water play….personally favoring screen time over humid outdoors time….I HAVE made some really yummy food and also bought junk…..haven’t gotten any committed dates for either my home business OR my freezer meal workshops…….and there hasn’t been nearly enough nap time—for me

  16. 7 days in for 10 year old, 9 for 16 yr old. Except that I am doing my internship this summer, with a new baby in tow. Exhausted!!! State of the laundry is same as always….I was going to leave it in the washer until I had time to put it in the dryer (with the lid open of course, important step in the procrastination plan) and take it out of the dryer right away so things wouldn’t get wrinkly, but then my husband, not completely agreeing with my plan, put it in the dryer. Now, it’s all just sitting there getting wrinkly because I’m too worn out to go get it. And so the cycle continues, and shall, all summer…heck, all year. But…we have already had some magic in the mess!!! – trips to the zoo, the river, the park, reading together, and my favorite, hugs! 😀

  17. We’re 31 hours into summer break and tonight when I tucked in my 7 year old he said “just so you know, today was really boring.”
    Talk about a punky butt nugget 😉

    1. Oh my goodness, that sounds just like my 7 year old!!!

  18. I’m a new reader and a mother of 5. My oldest is 6. We are a few weeks into summer vacation here in Oklahoma. My floors haven’t been vacuumed for 2.5 weeks (the vacuum died), the kitchen looks like a dishes monster vomited, laundry is half done, and only 3 of my 5 kids are bathed. It’s after nine and no one is sleeping, not even the twins (age 16 months).

    Happy summer break!

    1. This is totally our house plus one. I just have 22 month old twins and a 5 1/2 year old. It can be total chaos around here sometimes. If you figure out the magic solution for laundry and dishes let me know. We do a lot of paper plates to help cut down on dishes. It bugs me because I know it’s so bad for the environment. However, those paper products save my sanity. Good luck.

      1. I know. We do paper plates too and I hate it but what is worse, paper plates or mount-saint-dishes!? I do assign laundry to certain days but a lot of weeks it seems like the baskets fill themselves before I even finish for the day. I think the magic would be in the form of a maid and I don’t have money for that so we just live in our form of normal. 🙂

  19. We are suddenly and possibly temporarily thrust into summer break two weeks early due to a teachers strike here in BC. Things are more or less okay except that when the next child starts yell-crying I think I might run away and hide.
    Currently I have one freshly bathed child, two stinky and irritable children, piles of laundry in process, a sore shoulder, a newly tidied living room, and a sewing room that is a complete wreck. It looks like a fabric, shoe, and sporting equipment eating monster has been sick all over.
    Our cheap summer “vacation” plans to house-sit have been canceled, and we still haven’t registered any of our kids for summer camps or classes. And now there’s no school. So we are scrambling. And I am feeling guilty about needing to ask for help to take care of my kids. I chose to have them, after all, shouldn’t I be able to manage them?
    But I need my job. My having a job keeps us in our community and that is really important. And, truth be told, I’m a bit of a stress case when I am a stay-at-home mom, so really, my working is a good thing. Except when life happens and suddenly everything is more complicated than it would be if I didn’t have to leave the house most days.
    Maybe one weekend this summer I will put on my Special Events Mom hat and drive my kids down to Portland to visit my family and go to the zoo.

  20. We are six days into summer break after an unexpected diagnosis of pneumonia. Somehow in addition to the sick 13 year old, the 24 year oldsuddenly moved home today. Ugh!!!

  21. We are 36 hours in to Spring Break….well, 12 hours for me since I’m a teacher and spent 9 hours yesterday packing up my classroom and getting grades in, etc. I have found the key to peace is to get rid of everyone. 19 year old on her way out of state to study for the summer. Dad is driving her. The others are sleeping over at friend’s houses. Aaaaahhhhhh….peace!!!!! House is still a mess and I don’t care!!!!!

  22. So at the start of summer break last year I had just found out that I was pregnant with our 4th baby. The kids watched way too much TV and had way too much iPad time while I lay nauseated and exhausted on the couch. So THIS year I decided we would have a week of no screens as soon as school got out so we could get in good playing habits to start the summer off right. HA! WORST IDEA EVER! I regretted it about 4000 times. Thank goodness the week is over and we can watch TV again. Next year I will hopefully remember that no matter what I do, it takes a while to settle into our new routine

  23. Ours has begun. Husband just left on a business trip for a week and a half. Youngest already got in trouble for telling a bald faced lie. Teenager is okay so far. Since I have the kids by myself, I am being totally sensible today and letting them eat whatever (as long as they throw in something healthy off and on). They also can stay up all night and play unlimited video games. But tomorrow I’ll be all responsible and junk.

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