Now, don't get me wrong. I love my son. I love spending time with him—bike riding, arts and crafting, reading, throwing a baseball…you get the idea. But as a single mother working full time, summer stinks. For the time of year that is supposed to be low-key and schedule-free, summer causes more anxiety, more bills, and more gray hairs than any other time of year.
Camp has become a terrible four-letter-word for my eight year old and I dream of returning to a schedule with some semblance of normalcy. On the flip side, I know for some stay-at-home moms that summer is not just mojitos and bon-bons by the pool either. It is a balancing act of camps, play-dates, day-trips, art projects, picnics, planned activities, keeping everybody busy in any way possible—and frankly, it's exhausting. So regardless of where you fall on the working-mom scale (home or in an office), summer is hard. That being said, acknowledged and embraced, I hope you have all had the chance to enjoy at least some of it.
This summer, I have had the opportunity to not go into the office on Fridays and do a little extra work from home. Thomas (the aforementioned 8-year-old) and I have had the chance to embark upon some really fun adventures that I would recommend—especially if you can try to go during the week as we did and avoid the extra craziness of weekend crowds.
Canobie Lake Park
Two weeks ago, we drove up to Salem, New Hampshire, to Canobie Lake Park. I remember having gone as a child, but never anticipated how perfect it would be for someone Thomas's age. We had a blast. At about four and a half feet tall, Thomas could go on almost every ride there (some of them to my dismay).
Regardless of height, there really is something for just about everyone. Once the heat of the day started getting to us, we stopped in at the water park on the grounds to cool off and were then ready to take on more rides. The shows scattered throughout the park were entertaining and even caught the attention of he-who-doesn't-want-to-sit-for-anything.
It was an all-around perfect day, which allowed us to walk, talk, laugh, joke, and just plain enjoy everything we experienced together. Be sure to check out Canobie's website at www.canobie.com to help plan your day.
Savings Alert: We purchased our tickets in advance from AAA (actually just stopped at a branch on the way up) and were able to save $6 on each general admission ticket (regular price $38). You can order the tickets online through AAA, but they will mail you the vouchers (you can't print them offline), so be sure to plan ahead. If you have little ones under 48 inches tall or family members over 60, you can buy tickets online at Canobie's website (or at AAA) for $29, and little ones under the age of 3 get in for free. If you'd prefer to go late and stay late, tickets drop to $26 for everybody if you enter the park after 5:00 p.m. Visit www.aaa.com if you are organized enough to purchase your tickets in advance!
Living in suburban Medfield, Boston is not that far away. Sadly, it is a place we rarely frequent. This past week, we decided to embrace our historic capital and make a day of being downtown. Thomas and I drove to Newton and hopped on the Green Line at Riverside. Our naivety about the whole situation was made blatantly apparent to me when a couple from Canada asked where we were visiting from.
I quickly suppressed my outward excitement and encouraged Thomas to “play it cool” with me. The gawking out the window, giggling with each other, and constant pointing at the map to try to figure out where we were probably didn't help our cause.
A short time later we arrived at Government Center and continued our tourist experience by having lunch in Quincy Market. When we finished our park-bench-picnic, we headed off towards Long Wharf. As a surprise to my little traveling companion, I had purchased tickets for us to take a cruise on the thrilling boat-ride, Codzilla. The water was “a little flat” as described by the captain of our boat, with very little wind, so unfortunately none of us got super-wet, but the ride itself was exhilarating! Generally, if you go on this ride, just assume you are going to get wet. I came up with a couple tips just based on my experience:
- Standard-sized ponchos are available when you board the boat. Raincoats are great, but then you have to carry them around the rest of the day. Grab the poncho and rock it out with the rest of your boat-mates.
- I brought a trash-bag to put the backpack I was wearing in to try to keep it mostly dry. It definitely worked, but I could have easily held the backpack in my lap and covered it up with the aforementioned poncho. I think this would have worked just as well.
- Bring extra shoes (and socks). Shoes are the one thing you really can't cover up with a poncho. Depending on the time of day you're going on the boat, you may want to bring a change of footwear so you're not feeling that “squish” every time you take a step as you walk around the city the rest of the day.
- Rainy days rock. The day we went on the cruise, it was rainy in the morning, but cleared in the afternoon. We got on the boat just as the clouds were breaking, but the rain had clearly scared away most patrons to that point. More than half of the boat was empty for our cruise and the crew definitely made those of us that were there feel very special. Let's face it, you're going to get wet anyway – a little rain isn't going to make a difference.
- Let's get loud. My only complaint about the entire excursion was that the music played on the boat was EXTREMELY loud. Yes, I know I sound like a senior citizen, but I felt comfort in the fact that Thomas shared the same sentiment. For any parents with noise-sensitive kiddos, I would definitely pack headphones, earplugs, or whatever else you think might help. The ride is a blast, but could easily be ruined by the overwhelming volume.
After we returned to the harbor and I took a couple Dramamine and we walked just around the corner to the New England Aquarium. At the start of our visit, it was clear that the weather was keeping people away, but as we got later into the afternoon and the rain had mostly moved away, everything started to get busier.
As a change of pace, I decided to let go of my need to organize everything and let Thomas take the reins for this portion of our trip. We were up, we were down… we saw the octopus twice, the anaconda three times, touched a variety of sting-rays more times than I could count by the end of the day, and we had a blast.
My step-counter was going crazy and our feet were exhausted from trekking all over the aquarium, but it was worth it. Thomas was so proud to be given the chance to lead me around for a while. Regardless of how old your kids are, and how many times you've been there, the NE Aquarium always provides something new to see, learn, touch, or experience. The penguins will always be my favorite.
Savings Alert: If you visit Boston Harbor Cruise's website, you can purchase combo-tickets for Codzilla and the Aquarium which will save you about $4 per person.
So those are our adventures over the past couple weeks. I am eternally grateful to have the time off that I have so Thomas and I could experience these amazing things together. September will be here before we know it and we will all be back to the hustle and bustle of the school year. Lunches, permission slips, sports schedules, concerts, etc. I like to think that the school year is a little more organized in terms of schedule consistency, but it really is just a different kind of craziness. And it's all going by so quickly.
I hope you have had the chance to squeeze in a fun adventure or some special fun with your little ones this summer. They're not going to be little forever…if you're feeling overwhelmed with summer, whether you're working in or out of the house, remember that the craziness is for now, but the memories will be forever.