18 Summers

 

As we approach the end of summer and begin to shift toward back-to-school preparations and Labor Day in New Orleans, I am reminded of my conversations with friends starting a family. I also share this advice with my daughters and sons-in-law, as they start their own families.

The school education calendar is now padded with extra days in preparation of severe weather and unexpected closings, which means schools are now returning in early or mid-August, much earlier than when I was in school. (Boy, that makes me sound old). As such, New Orleans’ families are getting in that one last vacation the first week of the month.

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What I tell new parents — like Mike and Jenn, who recently added Charlotte to their growing family — is you only have 18 summers where you control the summer break. This means you get 18 opportunities to plan an experience with your family that is memorable — on your terms.

Once your kids graduate high school and are off to college or start their careers, things change. Now grown, your kids will need to fit in summer internships, or they have new positions with no days off. Your ability to control the summer break ends.

This summer, my family was able to bring some extended family together for a long weekend to see my grandson, James. Yes, he was only six months old at the time of his first summer, but that first summer will be marked with family spending time with him from across the country, and you cannot get that back.

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My granddaughter, Penelope, turned two this summer and she is living it up — experiencing an extended trip to Italy, multiple trips to Pensacola and Bay St. Louis, and of course, that trip to California to see James.

More than 20 years ago, my mom and dad established their family vacation plan. The last week of June is their week. Each year, they plan a trip and cover the cost for the whole family — all we have to do is take the time off. Their goal was to get the family together outside of the holidays for a life experience, and it has worked. Our family now numbers more than 25 and this June’s trip included 16.

So, as you get back to school and in the throes of fall, I encourage you to think about how your summer was spent. Was it something memorable?

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I challenge you to bring your family together and create your vacation plan before your 18 summers are behind you.

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