There is nothing quite like watching people’s eyes light up after they’ve asked me what my kids are doing for the summer, and I say that they’re going to spend a few weeks in Ardmore with my parents. “What will you do with yourselves?” I’m asked with curiosity by those who don’t have kids, and with a twinge of envy by those who do. It is at this point that I have a choice to make. Do I paint the glorious picture of how I envision it to be, or do I give them the version without the Instagram filter?
The Dream: Time to eat like adults!
For my little darlings, the Chinese buffet is considered exotic. With them gone, I can truly explore my hidden foodie tastes. I can whip out those Pinterest recipes I’ve been dying to take a crack at, and use those unconventional ingredients that have been calling my name. No need to worry about a backup meal for the kid who only wants his pizza with pepperoni and nothing else.
The Reality: Cinnamon Toast Crunch makes Churros now, so…
With no one around to set a responsible example for, candy, ice cream, and cereal make perfectly acceptable dinners. There is no chopping or measuring involved, either.
The Dream: Totally spotless house!
Without the primary mess-makers, the house can truly be enjoyed the way God and the builders intended. No more soccer cleats languishing by the front door, no more stuffed animals migrating out of bedrooms, no more rock collections in the washing machine. We would be able to eat off the floor, but we won’t, because we are not animals.
The Reality: Apparently people still live here?
The laundry pile may be smaller, but that doesn’t mean it gets put away any faster. In fact, with two fewer sets of hands to put the clothes away, the flaw in the plan becomes immediately apparent. It turns out we make messes, too. And these we can’t pawn off on the kids.
The Dream: Date night every night!
The hubster and I can go to a food truck park like Bleu Garten or Toly Park whenever they’re open and the mood hits us. Or go catch a movie in a theater that has reclining seats and serves food to you! No need to worry about a sitter or making sure the kids have eaten before we gallivant about the metro area. The world is our oyster.
The Reality: Which Netflix show should we binge tonight?
When you’re not used to dolling up and hitting the city (because who has time between all the soccer practices and piano lessons?) it’s a little hard to drum up the motivation to do it. That comfortable bed with just my husband sounds way more appealing than reclining seats in a theater full of people most nights. The food truck I wanted to go to isn’t even at the park tonight, anyway.
The Dream: All the sleep we can handle!
Sleeping in on Saturdays? Don’t mind if I do. Taking a midday nap on Sunday instead of eating post-church lunch? Well, why not? No one is going to wake us up to feed them or ask when we’re going to go somewhere because they’re bored.
The Reality: Yes. Sleep is happening.
As it happens, this is the one projection that is completely accurate. From the moment those adorable rugrats entered the world, we have been operating on a sleep deficit. We attempt to make it up at every opportunity. Sure, “sleeping in” may mean getting up at 7 a.m. these days, but hey, life changes when you have kids.
Child-free time may not be as exciting in practice as it is in theory, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the little crumbsnatchers from time to time. However, even if it just looks like loafing around the house, reset time can do a mommy (and daddy) good.