All the signs are there: No more homework, warmer days, exhausted kids, tossed together lunches. Summer is here.
When I think of summers growing up, it’s always the same mental image. Blackberry bushes in the backyard, vacation road trip, summer horse camp with my best friends at our lesson barn, time at the beach and pool. Growing up in one place meant that summer had a constancy that drives this lingering, nostalgic excitement I still feel when the calendar turns to June. But what about my military kid?
My son has lived in three states in six years. Different climates, different friends. How do I give him that same nostalgic sense of embracing summer’s freedom? Just like Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays, we’re creating our own traditions and embracing the opportunities that the Army’s moves have offered us.
Summer Traditions That Survive Your PCSAdventure Sunday. During the school year, Sundays are all about preparing for the busy week. Grocery shopping, checking calendars, catching up on household tasks and laundry mean that Sundays are spent at home.
During the summer, we spend our Sundays exploring the fun that our current home offers. Sometimes, we stay close to home and explore parks or local stores. We make lists of restaurants touted as the “best of” and give them a try. We keep an eye on community events and make lists of interesting looking festivals and farmers’ markets. The whole point is to try something new and see where it takes us.
Pajama Day. I give my son the go-ahead to cash in a “pajama day” periodically during the summer. This is a day, usually during the week when my husband will be at work, when we simply stay home. Typically, we’ll stay inside with movies on TV. He’s become a voracious reader so I anticipate some pajama days spent buried in books in our comfiest clothes. We’re all so busy during the school year with early mornings, soccer, baseball, homework and everything else, and I want him to know that it’s OK to just stop and catch your breath. Summer is the perfect time for that lesson.
Shared Dinners. That slower summer schedule is also an opportunity to spend more time with friends. My summer memories are full of pool parties, impromptu cook outs and warm evenings outside with neighbors. Our military moves have taken us thousands of miles from the extended family that filled those evenings for me. But, it has also brought a rich, always-growing community to our lives. In the summers, we make a point of inviting those people to share a meal or a beer or a dessert, depending on the occasion. It’s a way of broadening our son’s experiences, weaving a sturdier support system and letting him know that moving regularly doesn’t mean that he is without community.
As adults who have moved beyond the feeling of relief at the end of a school year, summer’s magic is a little less powerful. But, with a little creativity and a willingness to embrace that different does not mean “less”, we can create PCS-proof summer traditions that bring the magic to another generation.