Family cooking breakfast

Being a parent to a family is tough. Being a parent at home, during summer vacation with four kids ages 12, 9, 8 and 5 running around that house is downright brutal.

During the school year, we hit it pretty hard. Class during the day, sports for three of the kids and dance for the other, then its dinner and homework in the evening. The weekends usually consist of traveling to various matches or recitals, and get-togethers with friends and family.  And yes, then we do it all over again the next week.

The routine keeps us going and it also keeps the household in order.  Ok, let’s be honest and call it what it is— it’s organized chaos!  But it works for us.

So when summer vacation arrived, I admit that we took things pretty easy at our house.  Our kid’s sleep in if they want, eat cereal or bagels whenever they’re ready, and watch a show or play video games while they “veg” out.  I figure they’ve earned it.  And it’s what I did with my siblings growing up. We certainly don’t do that all day every day, but it’s definitely been our routine for the last couple of months since school ended.  With the kids occupied, the morning hours allow me to finish chores and decide on what activities will occupy our day.

Once we have our plans set, I usually step it up a notch with a solid lunch and something substantial for dinner. Because I’m not shuttling the kids back and forth to school and practices twice (sometimes three) times a day, I concentrate on true home-cooked meals for the evening.  It’s also when my husband is home from work and we can sit down together as a family.

I’ve also become addicted to sharing my fabulous summer suppers on social media – I know, so cliché, and I also realize it’s not the most spectacular hobby, but it’s what I do.  I just feel as if it helps someone else, then I’ve done my job.

Tonight was supposed to be a special dinner since my husband was returning from a long work trip, and as it turned out, his parents would be landing the same time so we were counting on dinner for 8 tonight. And yes, even after 15 years of marriage, having the in-laws for a visit still stresses me out.

Thankfully, I was prepared. I had already bought NY strip steak, jumbo shrimp and all the ingredients for a new salad I wanted to try. And I had both my husband and father-in-law’s favorite beer chilled and ready for their arrival.

At least, that was until a knock at the door from a utility worker informing us our power would be down indefinitely.  A multi-car auto accident sent a vehicle crashing into a power transponder near our neighborhood and it would definitely take all day (maybe longer) to repair it.

Our routine and my big plans to impress everyone were quickly upended.

No television or tablets unless the kids remembered to charge them (which they didn’t.)  Definitely no video games. The milk in the fridge was cold for now, but probably not much longer.  No toaster or oven for our bagels. Chances of a substantial lunch just dropped significantly. Rotting steak and spoiled shrimp would likely end up in the trash.  It’s safe to say, a dinner to remember was quickly becoming one I hoped to forget!

I hadn’t thought about how important and reliant we are on energy. Even though the kids are out of school, this will likely be a lesson they’ll always remember.