My husband's brother's family is in town, and one of their must-do trips was the local beach. So, we hit the beach after swimming lessons today. Our children were quite excited by the trip to the beach, so they were wonderful helpers with getting us ready to go and packing the car. Not that there was much to pack. Each of us (except our toddler!) had a backpack, we had a lunch bag, and a small box with sand toys. We're a simple bunch. Besides, there's only so much a mama can carry with one empty hand.
Our relations arrived shortly after us, and it didn't take long to blaze a trail to the water. My youngest was terrified of the water, and even more terrified of the blow-up turtles her grandparents brought, so she stayed in my arms or sat on the sand with a pail and shovel. Which was enjoyable. We built a few towers. We looked for different-coloured stones, rubbed smooth by the waves. We watched the antics of the gulls. My other daughter brought us seaweed to look at. We hung out with her baby cousin. We enjoyed the shade while the rest got a wee sunburn.
And the other children loved the terrifying turtles. Until the sun got the best of them and they forgot how to share. And listen. And fought pretty much from the time they got home until the time they went to bed, which wasn't early enough unfortunately.
And then I found it difficult to keep my cool too. Despite all these years as a parent, I still haven't found the magic way to calmly deal with what feels like constantly grumpy children. And I'm frustrated when it feels there is little I can do to resolve the root of the issue. Today, I think it was the heat combined with needing more sleep. And it is still uncomfortably warm in our house, even after 9:00 pm, so they will likely struggle to fall asleep tonight too.
So tomorrow, we may need to turn up the creativity. What to do about the heat? Maybe sleeping in a tent in the backyard. Maybe hanging up sheets and curtains in our unfinished basement so we can sleep down there. Maybe having an early supper so we can leisurely go through our bedtime routine, including a refreshingly cool bath for each child. Maybe shipping them off to their grandparents, who have air conditioning, for a sleepover (with their cousins!). Lots of cool damp cloths for sure.
What to do about my nerves wearing thin? I'm thinking quiet time tomorrow for each child, as best I can given the errands that need to be run. I'm thinking lots of reading time. I'm thinking activities that my children are experts at so I can heap praise on them. I'm thinking lots of hugs and cuddles and "love you's". I'm thinking lots of deep breaths for me.
I think we can do tomorrow.