I Thought This Was Supposed To Get Easier!

Rick Ropelewski |

One of the typical Labor Day questions we all get is “how was your summer”.  I gave the usual reply that it was fun but went by too quickly,  However, in years past I could touch on some highlight of the summer that was worthy of a quick story.  Don’t get me wrong, we had a very nice summer, but nothing to fill a three-page holiday newsletter with all the details.  A fun summer; just very, very different.

Our daughter Molly was a camp counselor this summer; her first foray into the working world beyond babysitting the younger kids in the neighborhood.  She really enjoyed it, but the job was for most of the summer so taking time off was not an option.  The little time off was filled with some additional college visits (more news to follow in the next few weeks), and then a few days away with some of her high school friends (hey, she’s a teenager).  The summer was over and it was back to practice for fall sports and school.

Thinking about how hard it was to coordinate schedules this summer got me thinking about our first summer after Molly was born.   With five-month old Molly in tow my wife Martha and I went to Newport for a few days; our first overnight excursion other than to visit family.  Our weekend trips needing just a duffle bag and a good book were a thing of the past (unless you count Curious George).  While Martha took Molly into the bed and breakfast to check in I did my best impression of a sherpa with the luggage.  Three trips to the lobby and the place looked like a Babies R Us showroom.  Stroller, diaper bag, toys, countless other accessories, and oh, yeah, my toothbrush.

While the logistics of traveling with kids at that age is challenging to say the least, I did not realize at the time how much simpler it was in some respects.  There was no rolling of the eyes at a perceived boring vacation, or the inevitable question “are we there yet?”  (Maybe Molly was thinking it but she could not articulate it yet).  But by far the biggest revelation to me is the challenge of calendar management.  So my advice now to families with smaller children is travel and revel in the flexibility.  Take trips at off-peak times of year when the kids are little and save yourself some money on the lower airfares.  There is no advanced trigonometry in second grade, so it is not the end of the world if they miss a few days of school.  Oh, and they can push off their college applications for a few more weeks as well.