Summer as a Parent vs Summer Before Kids

I love the summer! Warmer and longer days, barbecues, beach days, and just an overall, laid-back atmosphere are just some of the reasons why I adore this season.

Ever since I was a little kid, summer has been my favorite of all the seasons. Now, as a parent myself, I still relish this time of the year; but my, oh my, how it has changed.

If you are expecting your first little bundle and you love the summer season, too, here’s a look at – at least from my perspective – the difference between the summer as prior to children, and summer with kids in-tow.

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12 Fancy Free vs Locked and Loaded

Before having kids, I was literally able to pick up and go wherever I wanted, and whenever I wanted, during the summer months – well, any time of the year, to be honest. I remember being able to stay up into the wee hours of the morning, and waking up whenever I wanted to. There was no need to make plans for the day; I’d kind of just go wherever the wind took me. Man, it was great!

Now, as a mom, my summers aren’t exactly fancy-free anymore. Instead, they are planned, locked, and loaded. They have to be. If they weren’t, there would be major meltdowns (from my kids, too!) I’m not saying that we don’t just go wherever the day takes us sometimes, we definitely have days that are unplanned.

However, between nap schedules, certain events at certain times, bed times, eating times, the “witching hour”; yeah, we kind of have to have some sort of plan on most of our summer days.

11 Towel and a Book vs Pack a U-Haul!

Beach days were – and still are – the best days. However, back before I was a mama, I could just throw on my swimsuit, grab a towel and book, and park it at the beach for however long I wanted.

Now, beach days – and any other event outside of the house, pretty much – require careful planning and packing. To get the kids to the beach, I have to pack dry cloths, extra towels, toys, diapers, swim vests, umbrellas, UV-blocking tents, tons of sunscreen, baby powder (for getting sand off of sandy feet and hands,) chairs, coolers filled with drinks and snacks… And that’s not even all of it!

10 No Prep Time vs I Need at Least an Hour

Before having kids, I didn’t need to prepare anything for my glorious days at the beach, or a park, or a barbecue; I just had to get myself ready and walk out the door. Now, as a mom, I need at least an hour to get the troops ready.

Take into account all of the stuff that I need to pack (see above,) and then add to it the fact that I have to get my kids and myself ready, and yeah, I definitely have to start prepping at least an hour before we depart.

9 Rested vs What’s Rest?

Summer used to be the season to kick back, relax, and get that much needed R&R; now, not so much.

I’m not saying that I don’t get to relax a bit more during the summer months. School is out, so there aren’t as many stringent schedules to adhere to; however, just like pretty much everything else, there really isn’t much time to rest and relax when you have little kids.

Someone always needs something, or you have about a million things that need to be taken care of in the span of a few hours. In fact, sometimes, the summer can be more exhausting than any other time of the year when you have kids – but in a very good way!

8 Drinking Beers with Friends vs Roasting Marshmallows and Catching Fireflies

Hanging out on a deck, drinking beers, and playing card games used to be how I spent my summer nights. With little ones, the theme of my summer nights has definitely changed.

Now, when the sun starts going down, we catch fireflies in jars, roast marshmallows over the fire pit, and try to see as many firework shows as we can. While sometimes I do long for the summer nights of yore – and once in a blue moon, we do get to have a night like those pre-kid nights – I wouldn’t change it for the world. I LOVE having my fun-filled, amazing evenings with my kids during the summer; and every other season, too!

7 Planning a Vacation for You vs Planning a Vacation for the Entire Family

Before having kids, planning a summer vacation was pretty simple. It really didn’t matter where I went, or when I went there. My ultimate goal was relaxation, or adventure. An adult-only resort, or hopping in the car and pitching a tent wherever I ended up was A-OK.

Now, my summer vacations are based on my kids. I’ve traded in the adult-only resorts for Thomasland (a Thomas the Tank Engine-themed theme park) and Sesame Place. Hotels must be kid-friendly, and activities include riding trains and posing with characters.

6 Swimming was Leisurely vs Swimming is Worrisome

I have always loved swimming, so I always jumped in, no matter what type of water I was near. I’d do a few laps, dive, flip and float before I had kids.

Now that I am a mama, swimming is a whole lot different. Of course, I still have fun, but it’s nowhere near as leisurely. I have to constantly have an eagle-eye on my kids to make sure they are safe. Laps and relaxing floating are things that I can really only do if I have another adult with me because I spend the majority of my time hearing, “Mom, watch this jump!” or “Mom, did you see that?”

5 Lazy Days vs Kid-Friendly Summer Itinerary

Prior to having kids, I never really had a plan for my summer days. Yeah, I would plan a vacation, but even that was pretty loose. My summer really was laid back and relaxed.

Now, I have to plan a kid-friendly itinerary. Reserving spots at library classes, signing up for swimming lessons, planning educational activities and play dates are key for a successful summer; and I don’t mind at all, because it means that my kids will have amazing experiences and memories.

4 All About Me vs Searching for “Me Time”

The summer used to be all about me; my interests, what I wanted to do, and when I wanted to do it.

Now, I find myself desperately searching for some quality “me time” so that I can enjoy some of the things that I love about summer, the way that I love to enjoy them. For example, I have to ask someone to watch the kids so I can enjoy an hour or two at the beach without having to worry about kids. Or I have to ask my husband to wake up with the kids so I can sleep in.


3 No Alarm Clocks vs Waking Up with the Sun

Other than having to go to work, it really didn’t matter when I woke up during the summer before I had kids. I could sleep the day away, if I wanted to. And, when I woke up, I could just throw on a bathing suit and head to the beach or the pool.

Now, I still don’t need an alarm, but I rarely ever get to sleep in. My two tiny humans are better at waking me up than any alarm clock I have ever owned – and they wake up at the crack of dawn!

2 Being Clean vs Getting Messy

I mean, I would sometimes get dirty during the summer before I had kids. Camping, exploring unbeaten paths, and walking around barefoot certainly weren’t the cleanest things; however, overall, I was pretty clean.

Now that I am a mom, I find that I am pretty filthy at the end of a summer day. Stomping in puddles, playing in mud, climbing dirt piles, ice cream stains… Yep, I’m pretty much dirty all of the time.

1 The Magic Fades vs It NEVER Fades

Sure, summer has always been a magical season, and I totally appreciated its magic before I had children; however, after a few weeks, the thrill kind of wore off. There’s only so much that you can drink beers with your friends or lay on the beach by yourself before it becomes a little, well, boring.

With kids, the magic of summer never wears off. Whether we are canoeing, combing the beach for treasures, stomping in puddles after a rainstorm, at a carnival, watching fireworks, having a barbecue, or laying out and looking at the stars in the night sky, there is always magic. Kids have this incredible way of making everything truly captivating. They remind you what it means to appreciate things, and to find the wonder in even the simplest things. It’s totally an awesome experience.

So, would I trade my summers then for my summers now? Never! I could certainly use a little R&R, and it would be nice to just pick up and go without having to pack the entire house; however, I really wouldn’t change it for the world. I love having these incredible experiences with my kids, and making the summers of their childhood as magical as mine were. And you know what? – They are making my summers more magical than they have ever been.

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