So long, Stay at Home Summer
Water from the hose is spreading across the deck and their clothes are soaked. Water pipes purchased during our back to school at home shopping are providing entertainment while the baby naps. It is the end of summer; a summer where we haven’t gone to the pool once. A summer void of watching jumps from the diving board and swim meets, of seeing big smiles breaking across their faces when their ribbon is handed to them at the end of their race. No hours spent watching swim practice or negotiating what snacks they can get from the snack bar. No outings to the playground or children’s museums, no play dates with friends.
Back to school doesn’t hold the usual anticipation because we won’t be heading back to classrooms and seeing school friends missed over the summer. We know little about what the school year will look like, other than that it will take place at home and virtually. Months of continued isolation stretch out in front of us; I am clinging to the hope that at the beginning of next school year we will have been able to spend our summer at the pool and we’ll be attending in-person back to school events. As much as I’m looking forward to the day when I can safely drop my children off for in-person instruction again, I know that after months of constant togetherness, I will be both exhilarated and emotional about sending them back into classrooms.
We’ve adjusted fairly well overall to pandemic life, but the knowledge that there isn’t any end in sight, no finish line to work towards, is tough. At the beginning, I was optimistic and determined; we will do our part and stay home, we will make the best of it, things will be back to normal before too long. I’m less optimistic now that weeks have turned to months and it’s looking like there are still months to go, though I’m still determined to stay vigilant and do our part.
Good things have come out of all this time at home. We have had an abundance of family time, we have been able to enjoy slower days and a different pace of life. We have baked and and played and created and imagined together. I’ve made time to read more. I’ve tried more activities from Pinterest. We’ve explored trails we wouldn’t have otherwise. We survived virtual learning in the spring unscathed, and I am thankful that I have the capacity and resources to keep my children home from school this year and feel (as good as I can) about their education in a pandemic. There is lots to be thankful for.
But I’m also tired. I’m tired of constantly worrying about germs, I’m tired of telling my kids “we can do that, when this is all over” and not having any good idea about when that might be. I’m tired of seeing my kids sad over not seeing friends or being able to swim at the pool, I’m tired of never being alone, being constantly needed, always trying to figure out the next way to keep pandemic life flowing along successfully. I’m tired of people arguing over whether or not this is real. I’m tired of checking for the latest updates and seeing articles about large gatherings, knowing that will extend the amount of time before life can return to some semblance of normalcy. I’m tired of depressing news stories and I’m tired of COVID statistics. I’m tired of people complaining about schools who are doing the best they can, teachers who are trying their best, who have spent their summers (unpaid) trying to figure out the best way to make this all work. I’m just tired.
On Monday, I’ll do all I can to make our first day of back to school at home exciting. We will have a special back to school breakfast and take our yearly back to school photos with decorated chalkboards and I will be full of enthusiasm. I’ve researched and planned and shopped and I’m determined to make this school year a great one for my kids. Despite the occasional bouts of frustration over things not being normal and the exhaustion of life during a pandemic, we’ve still had a good summer. We’ve splashed in the hose and we’ve gone on nature adventures. We’ve made the best of our stay home summer, and we’ll make the best of this school year too.
Our lineup of resources for back to school (virtual first grade, homeschool pre-k, tagalong toddler): Little Passports Early Explorers & World Editions, 1000 Hours Outside Nature Handbook, Playing Preschool curriculum, Panda Crate, Highlights for Kids, Highlights High Five, National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids & Highlights Hello.