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Mediocre Mom Manual: How NOT To Have Fun In The Sun!

summer heat

School is finally out and the kids are all home. All the time. Day and night.

I’ve spent the entire month of June eagerly awaiting summer and all the possibilities that lie ahead; visions of happy crafting moments with my children, warm sunny beach days, and adventurous day trips to places we’ve never been.

And it started out exactly like that; for the first 22 hours of being home from school. We all loved each other. We were excited to hang out and barbeque. We had tons of admiration, patience, and respect for each other. Love, peace and ice cream. What could be better?

However, since that first 22 hours, things haven’t been quite the same. The “I’m bored,” complaining has started. The fighting and bickering between the genders and the ages is all consuming. My four year old wakes up every morning whining, which is not a good way for me to start my morning, especially since I’ve given up coffee. Summer probably wasn’t a good time to do that.

When meeting with my friends or visiting with other parents at the end-of-school festivities. that question always comes up; “So, are you guys going on any vacations this year?”

Not us. Nary a vacation planned. I think we are one of the only families in our town who doesn’t “summer on the Cape,” since we’ll be sitting on our back patio resting our feet in my daughter’s sunflower pool. The fun part is that the sunflowers squirt water. That doesn’t mean we won’t go on a spontaneous, impromptu weekend trip somewhere within a two-hour driving distance, but as of now, no big trips are in our future.

Last summer I did take the kids on a vacation—four weeks to be exact—to Arizona. That’s a really long time to 1.) sweat continuously 2.) listen to your children complain about being hot, and 3.) live with your parents.

But it had been awhile since we had seen our family and I had two new nieces to visit, so I packed up the kids and we flew south for the summer. Yes, I know. I have it backwards. Even the birds know you fly south in the winter, because there is absolutely no reason to be anywhere near Arizona during June and July. Those two months are exactly why we moved.

But absence makes the heart grow fonder and magical memory loss sets in, and I started thinking, well, maybe Arizona wasn’t that hot after all. Maybe I had imagined those blistering summers and scorching my legs on the pleather seats in my car, or the way the heat waves radiated off the asphalt blurring my vision. Maybe I was just dehydrated during the 22 years I spent living there.

Here were some of our Arizona trip statistics, circa 2010:

We stayed in Chandler for 26 days. That’s 624 hours or 37,440 minutes or 2,246,400 seconds, not that I was counting. 98% of that time we were hot. (The other 2% we were in Flagstaff just feeling warmish.) It rained a total of 5 minutes, which equates to .000133547% of the time. That’s so insignificant it’s like it didn’t really happen. Now that I think about it, maybe those drips were sweat beads rolling off my brows and into my line of vision. It’s entirely possible.

desert scenery

We didn’t really intend to stay that long, it’s just that when my husband happened to purchase the tickets he saw the cheaper price and hit the “book now” button and realized a little late that it meant we’d be gone for almost a month. Oops. But we made the best of it, even if our 26-day trip was about 16 days too long. How do I know we stayed too long? Well, let me tell you:

10 Signs That You’ve Been On Vacation Too Long

10. The kids cry when you tell them there are 5 more days until you leave for home.

9. Your children start crying when you talk about Daddy and ask why he can’t come here.

8. The kid’s grandparents start conversations off with, “You know, your mother and I were thinking how nice it would be if each one of your kids came out separately for a week at a time next summer. It would really allow us to get to know them better.”

7. The kids start reminiscing about even the bad memories of home. As my middle daughter said to me, “Mom, I miss waking up at home and asking you to make chocolate chip pancakes and you saying no.” Thank God she hasn’t started waxing poetic about the yelling yet.

6. You check to see if you can change your reservations to an earlier flight home.

5. You are surprised to find that changing your tickets would only be $350 and it doesn’t sound like a bad price.

4. The kids cry when you tell them that you leave for home the day after tomorrow, with the youngest responding, “But I want to go home NOW.”

3. Every day the kids ask to call their friends in Massachusetts at least twice.

2. I start thinking that if I didn’t see any family or any of my children for 24 hours, it’d be the best 24 hours of my entire life.

1. Everyone starts feeling not only annoyed, but angry that every single room in the house contains a person who is doing something, leaving absolutely no place for alone time. And it’s too hot to take a walk even at 9:30 at night.

You can see why I’d be a little vacation-shy after last year’s 26-day marathon, the trip I took sans husband because he had to work. He did come out for four or five days, which was a great addition to our trip. Somehow though, he managed to come out after I had arrived and leave before us, which meant I navigated the airports with three children, 1,500 pounds of luggage and carry ons, and an armful of snacks, by myself.

But here I am, week two of summer vacation with nary a thing planned and the kids at my heels. What’s a mom to do? I even looked online for tickets to Arizona—tickets that is, for unaccompanied minors. Well after last year – can you blame me!

But what about you? I’d love to hear about your summer vacation horror stories! Do any of you vacation in the same place year after year? Refuse to take a vacation? Have a stay-cation at home? Fill me in!

Rachel Vidoni is a professional writer and blogger and former classroom teacher. She is a mediocre mother to three pretty neat kids. You can follow her humor and family blog at You might not be a better parent after reading her blog, but you will feel like one.


  1. Nikki Newman

    June 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Oh Rachel, you had me laughing, especially the idea of the kids reminiscing about the bad memories of home, no. 7 on your top ten. In three weeks’ time we’re returning to the UK for almost 4 weeks. I hold images of picnics while visiting the odd castle, ice cream at the seaside, ice-cold beer in pub beer gardens with bees buzzing around the wisteria growing on the 500 year old stone of the walled garden… but I’ll get back to you in a few weeks when the story will probably be: sitting inside looking out at the grey skies and drizzle with my son attached to his psp missing the 47 degree c heat of the Middle East.

    Last year we spent 2 months holed up indoors because of that heat and Ramadan which lasted 4 or 5 weeks of it. There was NO WHERE to go and NOTHING to do. Only Lego and imagination saved us, oh and SHED LOADS of TV! Plus the odd 4pm glass of wine on my part.

    I wish you luck and love for the coming weeks! You are not alone! X

  2. Beth Buckley

    July 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    my only “vacation” this year will be the Cape with my girls, my mother and step-father, and my 6 aunts and uncles. (Dave and Charley are only coming for 2 nights…smart! Pop warner football saved my husband from devising a better excuse.) We even bought tix to a local children’s theater of Tom Sawyer…money well spent! so, while all the adults drink, play cards, sleep late, take long walks on the beach and read novels on the farmers porch, I will be digging my 100th sand castle or listening to “There’s nothing to do!” while trying to camoflauge with the real-vacationing adults.

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