Let’s admit it, Moms. As much as we love summer, sometimes it’s a struggle. I have begun countless Junes with a to-do list of summer accomplishments that I think will help me make the most of this fleeting season—eat better, lose weight, keep the kids in a routine. And yet, summer after summer, I have failed and have greeted fall with a mild sense of regret and guilt that I didn’t make better use of the long days and the extra time with my kids.
However, a couple of years ago, I finally got summer right. My family had the most fun, most relaxed summer we’ve ever had. My secret?…Just not caring.
I began that summer like any other – with a laundry list of ways I would improve our lives in two and half short months…
Instead I ate cake and drank Arnold Palmers. Needless to say, I did not lose weight. In fact, I think I gained about five pounds. But I just did not care.
Instead of sporting an apologetic cover-up and staying in the shade with a book, I flitted around the pool in my bathing suit, drink in my hand, like I just didn’t care. Because I didn’t.
Instead of wearing a giant hat and SPF 80, I sat in the sun until I got pink. It felt amazing—relaxing, purifying, even healthy. I probably risked premature aging (whatever that means). But I just didn’t care.
[Read Next: Teenagers: I Want to Remember These Last Times]
By mid-June, I quit wearing makeup (thanks to my lovely suntan). I spent all of five minutes getting ready and went to church, the grocery store, and out to lunch. I saw people I know, and I didn’t hide or pretend not to see them. I spoke to them face to unaltered face. It didn’t bother me a bit. Because I just did not care.
Rather than pore over my “Healthy Recipes” board on Pinterest trying to find new and exotic ways to hide spinach in a smoothie or reduce the calories in a cheesecake, I cooked huge batches of tacos and spaghetti and fried chicken, and my family at leftovers for days. Much to the delight of my children, I kept our pantry stocked with s’more ingredients, and I bought barbecue potato chips and ice-cream sandwiches. We made fires and roasted hot dogs. We ate way more junk food than usual. And I just didn’t care.
I let the kids sleep whenever and wherever they happened to drop—the couch, the floor, the hammock in the yard. They stayed up way too late watching television, and they slept in. I stayed up late too—reading books that lack literary merit or binge-watching The Office with my kids. And I slept in (or at least let myself hit the snooze button). Sometimes I ate cake for breakfast. Terrible habits I know, but I really did not care.
[Read Next: Family Dinner: We Lost the Kitchen Table and Found Much More]
I wasn’t a total slacker. I exercised. But even that was laid back—long, moderately brisk walks with a friend. I exercised to feel good and to live longer, not to have a hottie beach body. Because I just did not care.
We had friends over to hang out and served chips and salsa and brownies from a mix. Plans were made on a whim. No rush. No fuss.
It was the summer of not caring. And it was glorious!
And the best part? Turns out no one else really cared either. For all the junk food and poor sleeping habits, my kids seemed as happy and healthy as ever. No one called the whole foods police or turned me in to CPS. And the new, more relaxed, more confident poolside me was undoubtedly still attractive. My husband didn’t even noticed the five pounds, but he did love hanging out in the pool with me and cooking hot dogs and s’mores with the kids.
Of course, sadly, summer can’t last forever, especially a summer of not caring. The kids eventually had to stop sleeping in the yard and eating barbecue potato chips at will, and I certainly couldn’t continue to eat cake for breakfast and drink Arnold Palmers in the middle of the day.
But I did carry a little bit of The Summer of Just Not Caring with me into the rest of the year. We eat better, but I still cook enough to have leftovers for days. We don’t have cake for breakfast, but we don’t always wait for a special occasions to have it either. And anytime the temperature gets above 70, I grab a book, with or without literary merit, and head for my spot in the sun!
Now it’s officially the beginning of another summer. My kids are older. and most of them have jobs. The youngest one is busy too and keeps us running more than we’d like. But I am determined to maintain a laid-back summer attitude. I might not reach the level of apathy I achieved in 2015, but I am looking forward to slowing down, chilling out, and flitting about the pool just not caring!
Why the Lazy Days of Summer Shouldn’t Be Quite so Lazy
Father’s Day Gift Ideas: 5 That Made the Top of Our List
How to Prevent Your Kids From Driving You Nuts This Summer