School’s Over, and So is My Life

School is officially out for summer. The kids are thrilled, the teachers are relieved, and my yearly descent into summer insanity begins. My sister, a teacher for 27 years, says that on the last day of school, after collecting all of their well-earned gift cards and pencil holders, teachers scream a silent “YOUR TURN!!” to all parents. And, for the next 8 weeks, it’s our turn.

At the beginning of summer vacation, feeling inspired and motivated, I assemble a long bucket list of day trips, picnic spots and hiking trails. I look forward to lazy days with zero homework, no bedtime, and lots of pool time. And, for the first week of summer break, it’s great. No more 5:30am alarms, lunches to pack, last minute searches for library books, or kids to hurry out the door. No schlepping into school with forgotten glasses, and best of all, no more social drama.

But there’s a summer tradeoff. These kids need to eat lunch. Every. Single. Day. They also generate twice as much dirty laundry when they’re home, use the bathrooms a lot more (ew), and I suspect they’re breeding fidget spinners. I sit in my dining room office attempting to work while a baseball game is underway in the family room with a flip-flop and rolled up pair of socks. Shrieks from my 15-year-old daughter signal a sock to the head, and chaos ensues. At this point, I end up with 7 year olds on both sides of me pleading their cases, and I am forced to leave my computer to referee. So, while day trips, vacations, and trips to the pool are great, it’s the days in between that are the problem. And there are so darn many of them.

I try to keep the kids busy with camps and activities, but, like Whack-A-Mole, it’s nearly impossible to occupy them all at once. Last summer, when my middle son went to overnight camp, I think my twin boys stood next to my desk staring at me for the entire two weeks. My daughter kept busy with a chocolate-covered pretzel business. This ensured a steady stream of sprinkles onto the kitchen floor, and a steady stream of cash from my wallet into Michael’s Craft store.

According to my sister, teachers dread the arrival of August, as it signals that the first day of school is nearing.  For me, it’s a light at the end of this long summer tunnel.  At this point, my inspiration has completely disappeared, and, after 6 weeks of fulltime kid management, the thought of planning a day trip is almost painful. As delighted as I am to be shopping for back-to-school supplies, navigating four kids with four lists through Target nearly levels me, as well as our budget. But I carry on, because, well, no one else will.  In mid August, I pack us up for our final vacation of the season; a week at the beach with my husband’s family. I can now cook, clean, work, and manage crises, only now I can see the ocean while I’m doing it.

Am I exaggerating a bit here? Of course. My husband and I didn’t plan on having twins in our forties, and the constant needs and activity is overwhelming, but it’s also given us a life fuller, richer, and more fun than we could have ever imagined. We’re so grateful for every bit of chaos in it. But even this good kind of crazy can take its toll, and turn a relatively normal brain to oatmeal. Just like mine.

So regardless of how many kids you have, you’ll probably descend into some form of summer insanity, and that’s ok. You’re only human, and they’re only kids. So do your best, try to get a break here and there, and have a little fun, because the end of August will arrive, regardless of how you choose to manage your time and your kids. It’s a crazy stretch of life, but it’s special. And, when it’s the teachers’ turn again, and you might actually start counting how many turns you have left.


Abby Helman Kelly is the owner of, the state’s premier gluten-free resource. She can be reached at


























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