Parenting in the summertime comes with a new set of standards, new challenges and opportunities. It can be very entertaining to see which freedoms kids will embrace. For some kids, it’s the ready availability of Popsicles or watermelon. Others want to be under the sprinkler every waking hour. Mine are crazy for “sleeping different.”
It all starts with the magic sentence “you can stay up a little later in the summertime.” Don’t you just adore those long-shadowed hours of evening when kids run wild in the backyard and mom and dad sip a cold glass of white wine?
We chase fireflies and swat at mosquitoes. We catch up with neighbors who work as many long hours as we do- but can finally be seen in the extended enchantment between dinnertime and bedtime.
Parents are buoyed by the idea that the kids “will sleep in a bit” if they stay up late. (Good luck with that!) Kids feel like they’re breaking all the rules.
Location, location, location
For my kids, the next goal is to sleep in a new spot. They pile into bed together, switch bunks, or hold “sister sleep overs” on each others’ bedroom floors. They talk me into setting up our inflatable bed in the living room or beg to sleep on the couches. They drag cushions into piles and put blankets on beanbags. They want to try sleeping on the front porch, in the backyard, and in a tent.
I guess I’m a good sport, because I go along with most of it – as long as I mostly end up in my own big, sweet bed.
The final key to nighttime bliss? To my daughters, it’s all about what you wear.
I suppose my choice to neglect laundry in favor of heading to the park, the beach, and the children’s museum started it all. With no clean pajamas in sight, I told the girls they could just sleep in a t-shirt.
A few minutes later I realized the error in that statement and revised it. “A T-shirt AND underpants!”
This amazing (to them, anyway) departure from convention has evolved into a nightly “Can I wear this to bed?” parade. Summer dresses, out-sized sweatshirts, riding pants, and clothing borrowed from Mommy’s drawers all seem fair game. Also the occasional swimsuit.
The final fashion frontier is, of course, to eliminate clothing altogether.
I clearly remember hot, muggy summer nights growing up in Detroit. My mom would lay cool sheets out and aim a fan at my sister, brother, and me as we lay there in our undies with shower-damp hair, trying to get cool enough to sleep.
My house is blissfully air-conditioned now, but my girls want the same experience: naked except for the Hello Kitty and Tinker Bell underpants, fan providing a white-noise backdrop as they demand that I sing (over and over again) the same song my mother would sing on those hot summer nights:
(To the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic)
And I wear my flannel nightie in the winter when it’s not.
And sometimes in the springtime
And sometimes in the fall
I jump beneath the covers with nothing on at all!
Glory, glory Hallelujah!
Glory, glory, what’s it to ya?
Balmy breezes blow right through ya
With nothing ON AT ALL!
However you and yours sleep – enjoy these summer nights!