White Knuckle Parenting: When Spring Springs

Today's vernal equinox officially kicks off spring. Here's to fewer clothes, more time outside, and the potential that comes with the season.


It's not like we've had the most traumatic of winters this year, but nonetheless, I have been yearning for spring to sproing. With today's vernal equinox and last week's 70- and 80-degree days, it looks like spring might just really be here to stay. While it seems that spring only lasts for 12 days in the DC area, there are definitely some wonderful things about the season. Following are some of my favorite parts of spring.

Packing away the winter coats: If I am feeling overly ambitious, I will even wash them before I put them in a bin in the basement. Life is so much easier when I don't have to stuff three kids into three coats (and hats and gloves) before we leave the house. We probably save an hour a day by eliminating this step. Plus, there is so much extra space in my house's entryway after we replace all those bulky coats and scarves with light sweatshirts and sunscreen. The only problem is that once the coats get stowed, they stay stowed, so if it gets cold again, my kids are screwed.

So long, socks! This is a corollary to the coats. Socks are by far the most annoying of the garments, in my opinion. The benefits of losing the socks are twofold: (1) There is one less step to dressing in the morning, and (2) I will stop finding abandoned socks all over my house for a few months. Seriously, I don't know how there are so many individual socks under tables, on couches, and pretty much any place but the hamper. Based on sock litter, you would think I had 16 kids.

That outside-time sweet spot: My kids are desperate to be anywhere that isn't inside my house, so they are happy to turn off the electronics and spend hours in the backyard. Later in the season, when it is hotter and they have explored every nook in the yard, they will be more resistant to heading outside, but for now they are even willing to play games like Hoe the Garden and Gather the Sticks.

The potential of summer: The reality that my husband and I are basically layabouts with little motivation for home improvement hasn't yet set in and we are convinced that this is the year we are finally going to build that tree house—or at the very least, build that shed we bought last summer.

No heat and no air conditioning: Talk about the sweet spot. I love the part of the year where you can open all your windows and doors without having to worry about the heat or air conditioning escaping—just the cat.

Daylight savings time: Yes, daylight savings time sucks in the morning, no question. That first morning when you wake up and you've lost that hour? Well, there isn't a lot that makes that pain feel better, but daylight after dinner so your kids can play outside comes pretty close.

Daily baths and hair washing: Sometimes during the winter, I get a little lax about demanding that my kids bathe every day. During the spring I remember one of my parenting credos: If the kids are dirty, I've done my job as a parent. By those standards, I was an excellent parent this past week.

Spring break! Even though MCPS' spring break this year is something like 95 days long and I will undoubtedly be complaining about it before the end of the first day of no school, I am really looking forward to spending some time with my kids and going on adventures without having to worry about homework, buses, or stifling heat.

Not everything about spring is fantastic. My least favorite parts of the season are all those annoying tree seeds, cherry blossom petals, and random spring plant detritus that gets tracked all through the house every day. Mix that with mud that comes with spring rain and my kitchen floors are even more grim that usual.

Regardless, spring is all too short. It always feels like three weeks after spring starts, it is 90-degrees and humid and we're all wishing for a cloudy day. In the greater scheme, if I can have just a few much needed warm, fun days, I'm okay with all the rest. All I know is that if this is a false start and there is more winter to come, part of me will die inside. If it snows after today, I am retreating into my house and never coming out.

Happy spring, friends!

Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, writes a personal blog at Stimeyland; an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont; and a column called Autism Unexpected in the Washington Times Communities. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey.


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