The last Summer before kindergarten
It was the last summer before KINDERGARTEN. My daughter has gone to pre-school since she was just a few months old. Most days she was the first to be dropped off and the last to be picked up. Oh, the days of a being a single working momma! Looking back now, I am glad that we had them, but I was not delighted during. I vowed to myself that somehow, someway this summer was going to be different. It was, after all, the last summer before kindergarten.
Quitting my job to stay home this summer
I ripped the band-aid off and quit my job. Ok, it was not that easy, but I did quit my job. My fiancé and I worked out a plan so that I could stay home this summer. He knew that it was something I had always wanted to do. I am fortunate and thankful to have this opportunity. However, we couldn’t go run off to a lavish vacation or any vacation for that matter. We had to get creative to find ways to fill a couple of months with cheap or free activities. Memories are what needed to be created, and those are free…right?
First of all, I am not crafty and not that creative. All I know is work. I am in awe of women that can stay home and teach their children. I’ve actually found myself working this summer because I needed to do so for my own sanity. The struggle of finding our own value in the dollars we contribute to our family and stepping back to just be a mom is very difficult. Then as I worked, I found myself guilty for not spending time with my daughter. Back to free memories. We found ways to make memories that really only cost the gas it took to drive to some new places.
I signed up for an email newsletter that provided kid’s activities in or around our neighborhood. By doing so, I was amazed at how many FREE activities there were almost every day of the week. Plus, there is an excellent resource found on the Indy Mom’s blog put together by some fantastic contributing writers that list all of the amazing things our state has to offer.
Finding new playgrounds
We decided to follow a great list of parks that can be found on the Indianapolis Mom’s Blog. The list is 10 Best Parks in Indianapolis, feel free to click and use yourself. We now had a plan and I made a promise. This summer was going to be the summer of finding new playgrounds! My little one loves to go to playgrounds and make new friends. This was going to be perfect because playgrounds are free!
Life happens but you made a promise
A couple of weeks into the summer, I found myself with a part-time job. Then we found ourselves 9 hours away for a week because of family issues back home. So, the park thing was put on hold. Next thing we knew, summer only had about 3 weeks left and we had only been to 3 parks. How in the world did this happen???? In those next few weeks, there was more of the part-time job and other scheduled events that took us away from our goal. Something had to change. I quit again; I quit the part-time job. My little girl was going to kindergarten and for some reason that provided this additional level of pressure to make this summer awesome. I realigned my focus. My focus is my daughter and making memories this summer.
Back on track as best we can
In the last few weeks of summer, I referred back to the top 10 list and mapped out a new plan. We were going to achieve our goal. Then the rain came for three days straight. Panic! So, we had to improvise and find different parks that were not on the list. There are so many amazing parks around our communities. We packed lunches and snacks to have picnics at the park. Plus, the picnics and in-car snacks helped us avoid spending money at restaurants or the quick gas station stop. We also had scavenger hunt lists left over from the school year that we brought to our playground adventures. I realized my daughter had never looked for a four-leaf clover. She found out it’s not as easy as she thought. Turns out that was a new, free memory we had not planned on making.
In the middle of finding new playgrounds, we also played board games at home, colored, worked on writing letters and numbers, and just cuddled up in the big chair to relax. She loves to read and wants to know how to so badly. We went to our local library, got library cards, and checked out books. All free. In addition, local parks have free toddler story times and crafts that we attended. We were so lucky to have the time to learn about all the things our great communities have to offer. Most importantly we are so blessed to have been able to spend the time together. The summer was not perfect. However, if I had spent the summer working, I would’ve regretted it for the rest of my life.
Take the time to do what matters
Quitting my job was not easy, stepping way back in my career, but time doesn’t stop. Our children just keep growing and they need us. I know not everyone can do what I did so just take what little time you get and find an adventure. Taking time whenever you can, will be worth it a million times over in the hearts and minds of those little people in our lives.