Make It a Real Summer, Even if You’re Working

One of my greatest shocks upon entering the working, i.e., “real”, world was that there would be no spring breaks, no summers off, and no two-week holiday at Christmas. In fact, two weeks was all the vacation you got for the first several years, and those days had to be used more judiciously than a jailhouse phone call.

It was a sad realization that summer was just another season I would be spending in a cubicle.  I felt gulty that the kids weren’t having what I grew up considering a long, lazy summer, and yet I knew the whole family was too high-octane to be satisfied with one of those anyway.

Here are suggestions on escaping from the routine and creating a scrapbook’s worth of summer memories:

*Take advantage of extended hours. Many Birmingham attractions are open later one or two evenings a week so there’s no reason you can’t go out and still be home in time to get your shut-eye. Gardens and parks are still enjoyable in the early evenings and good for a picnic (even if it has to come from a drive-thru).

*Be fun-ready. Keep a change of clothes in the trunk for an improptu evening. Dark shorts show fewer wrinkles and you always need to have some flip flops handy anyway (pedicure, broken shoe heel, whatever).

Here’s a changing spot for you: The automatic car wash. Several times the kids and I have changed while the car was in the robo.  Just align the front wheel, push your seat back, and let the car wash guide your car through the tunnel while young ones stay strapped into car seats or older ones race the robo along with you to shimmy into shorts and a fresh shirt. The wash brushes and suds cover the windows for total privacy. Some moms will think this is crazy, but Type A multi-taskers will see it as brilliant.  (This also works great for when the kids need to change into sports uniforms after school and the car could use a simultaneous wash.)

*Use a couple of vacation days for a midweek visit to a destination like Alabama Adventure. These places tend to be crowded on weekends and the last thing you want to do is spend your Saturday doing more work – that is, battling crowds and heat – for your little cubic foot of water space. (Note that this is not true for McWane or the Zoo, which are filled with day campers on field trips. These are better as Sunday afternoon destinations.)

*Restaurants and meals make for great practical entertainment. You’ve all gotta eat anyway, right? Pick the kids up from their camp or caregiver and head for any of the more-than-a-meal dining spots we have in the ‘ham:

  • Cajun Steamer, Hoover and Trussville – Although you may think of it as a spot for adults, it’s got a kids’ menu and plenty of patio dining. You have to lose a bad mood with Cajun music in the background.
  • Joe’s Crab Shack, 280 – there’s a playground outside. During the winter it’s too cold or dark for the kids to play, but you can indulge them in the summertime.
  • Agave Grill, Hwy 31 Hoover – They make your guacamole right at the table with a mortar & pestle.
  • Cantina, Pepper Place – one of the best spots for outdoor dining and a sense of celebration. South of town, Margarita Grill at Hwy 119 packs in outdoor diners.

*Grandparent camp – the best deal going, if you can sucker the grandparents into providing it. Even if they live in town, letting the kids spend a few nights away with them is a treat all around.

*Finally, be mindful. Appreciate the first firefly, the first watermelon, the first pool-dive of the season. And when the first 100-degree day rolls around, appreciate that you’re inside a comfortable air-conditioned space provided by your employer.