Woohoo!!! School is back in session. This is the best day of the year for stay-at-home parents everywhere. Christmas, New Year, or even Halloween can’t compete with the first day of school for us. I love RB40Jr dearly and we had an awesome summer together, but I’m ecstatic to have some personal time back. As you may know, I made a goal to reclaim the summer break this year. I cut back on everything to spend the summer with our son and enjoy the nice weather. How did it work out? Well, it was a mixed bag. Let me tell you about all the good stuff first.
Spending time with Junior
My main goal this summer was to spend more time with our son. That goal worked out very well. In previous summers, we sent him to summer camp every other week. It gave me much need time to blog and run errands. However, this year we decided to skip the summer camp arrangement. This means we spent most of the summer together. This worked out pretty well because we had a good mix of activities and relaxing time. Here is what we did in June and July. I’ll write more about August a bit later.
Travel – We visited Iceland for 2 weeks in June. In July, we took a 2 week road trip to visit friends and family in California. This is what summer is all about. It’s the time to travel for families with school age kids. Actually, I prefer to travel in the shoulder seasons, but we just have to roll with it for now. Anyway, it was great to get out of town for a while. We had a great time on our trips this year.
Staycation – We live in Portland, OR and I love the summer here. The Pacific Northwest weather is usually perfect in the summer (more about this later). It’s not too hot and there are a ton of things to do locally. You really can’t beat it. RB40Jr had a great time hanging out with friends, going to the parks, swimming, reading, and visiting various attractions around town.
Screen time – You know kids. If you give them a choice, they’ll just stay home and play games and watch cartoon all day. I tried to balance this with outdoor activities, but he still had a lot of screen time this summer. I’m pretty happy school is back in session. He’ll be too busy to spend much time playing games now.
All in all, we had a great time together this summer. I think we can safely cut out summer camp from now on. We’ll sign him up for a really interesting one occasionally, but we don’t have to send him to the child care camp anymore.
Ramping down work
Another reason why I wanted to bring back summer break is because I want to try working less. During the school year, I spend approximately 20-30 hours per week on this blog. This is good for now, but I’d like to cut back to about half that in the distant future. You can read more detail about my plan to ramp down work in Bring Back Summer Breaks. This summer was a trial run to see if cutting back was actually feasible. I reduced my work load by 50% by cutting back to one post per week instead of 2.
Pros of working less
- Relaxation. I cut back to posting once per week this summer and it helped me relax more. I didn’t have to worry about the blog when we were out of town. In previous years, I usually stuck to 2 posts per week even when we were traveling. This meant I usually worked at night when we were in Costa Rica, Mexico, Thailand, and various other destinations. This summer was great because I was able to have some truly relaxing .
- Minimal impact to blog traffic. Surprisingly, cutting down to 1 post per week had minimal impact on the blog traffic. There are fewer visitors due to the summer slowdown since everyone is on vacation. However, traffic is about the same as last summer. This is a pleasant surprise for me. I thought traffic would decrease from going to just 1 post per week. I don’t know. Google keeps changing their search algorithm so it’s tough to know what’s really impact blog traffic.
Cons of working less
- Writing became more difficult. Blogging less often made it more difficult for me to write since I procrastinate a lot more when the deadline is lax. I’d spend the weekday with RB40Jr and put off writing until the weekend. Normally, I have a schedule and I work on my blog a little bit every day. You can read more on how I write a blog post here. Posting once per week made it much more difficult to get into the flow.
The work less experiment turned out okay. I was able to relax more, but writing became more difficult. It’s not easy to find a balance in life. Anyway, school has started and I’m looking forward to writing 2 posts per week again. Next year, I’ll have to figure out a better way to work less.
*Interested in starting a blog? Check out my tutorial – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should.
I took the summer off from going to the gym. I spent more time outdoors with RB40Jr, though.
My steps are up for the summer, so that’s good. I’m ready to go back to the gym. During the school year, I go to gym after I drop RB40Jr off every day. It’ll be nice to get back into the routine.
Summer was just about perfect in June and July. It was just the summer break I wanted. However, it didn’t last. August arrived with an adversity.
My mom lives with us for about 9 months every year. She usually stays with my brothers in California in the winter. However, we went to Iceland this summer so we sent her to California in June. At the end of July, we took a road trip to CA and picked her up to come back to Portland with us. The road trip was tough for her. We drove for 3 days and she was getting more confused as the trip went on. She is 70 years old and she is at the beginning stages of dementia. By the time we got home, her symptoms had worsened considerably. She was frequently confused, paranoid, and talked a lot of nonsense.
We took her to see her doctor and she was prescribed a new medication to help with the confusion. However, the new meds made everything worse. She began to have vivid hallucinations and became even more paranoid and confused. We stopped the new meds, but the symptoms persisted. Eventually, she was diagnosed with delirium and we’re still dealing with it. I had to supervise her very closely so we mostly stuck close to home in August.
It’s been over a month now and my mom is improving a bit. She has fewer hallucinations and sleeps better now. Hopefully, she’ll be back to her baseline soon. It’s tough. She’s getting older and her health is slowly worsening every year. From what I understand, changing the environment is bad for dementia patients. It takes a long time for them to adapt to a new environment and it’s very stressful. From now on, she’ll probably have to live in Portland full time. The road trip probably made it worse too. We didn’t drink enough water and she might have been a little dehydrated.
Anyway, this is the reason why I think it’s a terrible idea to retire at 65. My family medical history is not great. Most of my older relatives have some kind of serious health issue. I don’t want to retire at 65 and then be able to travel for only a few years. Early retirement is a much better fit for me. I can enjoy life now in my 40s and stick closer to home in my 70s. Of course, I’ll try to stay healthy, but I’m not too optimistic with my family history.
Lastly, this fire season is insane. There are so many fires and so much smoke that most of August wasn’t enjoyable. The air quality was frequently bad and we stayed inside much more often than usual. This really bites because summer is the best time to be home in the Pacific Northwest. That’s the time of the year where we can really unwind and enjoy the outdoors. Now, our summer will be even shorter. It’ll start raining pretty soon and we’ll have gray and wet skies until next June. If this is the “new normal”, I’m not sure if I can handle living in the PNW.
You can check out the current fire and smoke map at NOAA’s site.
School is back in session!
All in all, I’m glad school is back in session. RB40Jr is starting 2nd grade and I hope he has a good experience this year. He always had a hard time adjusting to being back in school. The first few weeks will probably be rough for everyone. I’m sure he’ll adapt to the new teacher and friends soon, though. First grade was pretty good so I’m optimistic.
Okay, so how was your summer? Did you get a chance to relax a bit?