Sometimes I feel as if summer is over before it even begins.
My wife and I sat in the front yard after putting our girls to bed running through our calendar. It was May. We still needed to prep and plant the garden, and get everything ready for Memorial Day weekend camping.
June, the first full month of summer, was booked with fishing in Seward, building a deck, and a few running races. More fishing in July; dip netting the Kenai, and halibut out of Homer. Then, like so many other families, August and September are spent in the mountains and muskegs in search of big game to fill the freezer. There is no shortage of things to do when the snow melts and darkness gives way to the midnight sun.
In one hour, and without turning a wheel, summer and fall were over.
With lists so long and time so short, I find thoughtful planning helps me accomplish my to-dos and still have time to make the most of my summer. I call my take on summer planning “parade mentality.”
Before becoming a father, I had the same attitude about parades as I did about a summer calendar. I found parades to be unadventurous and dull; likewise, I scoffed at having to schedule for my summer. Parades and schedules, why bother?
Before kids, my school teacher wife and I would follow the weather if I wasn’t working, fishing, and camping, spontaneity the bedrock of the summer.
Kids change everything.
With the addition of two daughters over the past four years, the spontaneity of our Alaskan summers had to change. Who would have thought that our small town parade would reveal to me wisdom on summer living with kids?
Last year the Bear Paw Parade was on a sunny July Saturday. I don’t remember the floats or who we sat next to, but I do remember realizing that a parade is like a summer living with kids.
We walked down to the Old Glenn and found our spot across from Starbucks. We claimed our little spot of pavement, while the crowd slowly grew, then traffic was halted. There was small talk with family, while I fielded questions from my daughter about when the show would start.
Then it began — floats and formations of people, music playing, singing, and dancing.
We waved at friends marching in the parade and gathered up candy. The sharp wail of the fire truck signaled that the show was over. Everyone scattered to go about their day, and the parade route was transformed back into a suburban street.
A parade is not accidental. A parade needs to be planned to be successful. It requires a predetermined route, a specific start time, and a slow enough pace for spectators to enjoy the variety of entertainment.
It’s my parade mentality as applied to the Alaskan summer. We sit outside after the girls are tucked in; it’s May, and we have the calendar out. We are taking the intentional steps that will allow us to be spontaneous; to take impromptu trips to the park, have last minute backyard s’mores, and even go to a parade or two where I can slow down and wave with my daughters as the cars go past.