Bye Bye Sunshine, Hello Freedom

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Guest Blogger, Dayton Uttinger

Even though autumn technically started weeks ago, it’s only now getting cold enough for the hordes of scarves and pumpkin spice lattes that have appeared everywhere. Holiday decor has appeared in stores. Your drive to work or morning workout is spent in a teeth-chattering blackness. Kids have fallen into their school routine a little more. The weather is deteriorating, and we’ll have to wait a whole three seasons before we can tan on the beach again. But those are small prices to pay for the beauty of autumn, and I don’t just mean the multicolored foliage. The real beauty of autumn can only be appreciated by parents.

Structure

Alright, kids are certainly not happy that autumn is here. They’re still mourning summer vacation, which is understandable. Summer vacations are the best times to be a kid.   As long as you get them outside, summer can mean plenty of Vitamin D and healthy activities like, hiking, boating, or summer sports. Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case. Kids these days are spending a majority of their time inside staring at a screen or generally making a mess. We like to picture smiling family vacations when we think of summer, but that’s rarely a reality. Instead, we get no smiles, no vacation, or both.

Summer usually means you have to design activities for your kid, or pay through the nose for them. You’re in charge of giving them direction. Although there are ways to keep kids productive during summer break, school includes a pre-set schedule. There isn’t an option of sleeping in; your kids have to be at school when the bell rings. They have to do homework. They have to learn and be productive. You’re not in charge of giving them direction all the time, and that can be liberating.

Money

However, the end of summer isn’t just mentally freeing, it’s fiscally freeing too. Many parents just can’t afford summer. With child care, additional food for snacking and their friends, and various summer activities, the season can be a real strain on your wallet. Additionally, the beginning of school is still in summer, and all the clothes, school supplies, and administrative fees are too expensive, especially as your kids get older.

But all that’s over for now! You’ve got practically the whole school year before you have to worry about silly summer budgets! Now is a chance to play catch up, as much as there ever is one. Raising a kid means your bank account is constantly depleting, but the end of summer means you have a rare window to recuperate. Until you have to start budgeting for Christmas, that is.

Holidays

I enjoy St. Patrick’s Day or the Fourth of July as much as anyone else, but all the really good holidays are packed together at the end of the year. Halloween means lots of cute, excited kids in costumes and nabbing a couple of pieces of candy. They’ll want to trick or treat with their friends, but you should still chaperone, both to spend time with them and for safety reasons. Thanksgiving and Christmas are both money vacuums, but your kids are all yours on those days. These holidays represent crucial family time that you won’t always have; they might move or split holiday time with their spouse’s family. That makes the time that you have now all the more meaningful. Eventually, they won’t wake you up on Christmas morning. Which is a blessing in some ways, and a curse in others.

Just like summer. We’ll all think longingly of beautiful sunny days during blizzards, but remember summer has plenty of rainy days too. Especially if you’re a parent. You’ll face those draining three months again, but, for now, just enjoy the fact that it’s over.

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