I have discovered three secrets to summer survival.
The first one is a purchase I made a year ago. It’s one of those purchases I wasn’t entirely sure about at the time but has proven a worthy investment.
What did I buy?
An outdoor trash can.
I know. Other women buy Botox injections. I buy a trash can. I should wear a T-shirt that says, “Easily Amused.”
It’s a large trash can with a flip top, so all the grands can open it.
Now parked by the back door to the house, they have to trip over it before coming inside. That would be “they” as in all the kids in possession of half-eaten ice cream cones, remnants of peanut butter sandwiches and cups of lemonade.
They have now been trained to dump sticky stuff in the trash can outside the house, which means that I no longer have sticky floors inside the house. Four days out of five, I can walk through the kitchen without losing my shoes because they stuck to the floor behind me. I am a woman at peace.
The second secret to success is the table setting. I enjoy a pretty table with fresh flowers, real dishes, cloth napkins, sparkling glassware and my mother-in-law’s silver. Do you know how long cleanup takes with all the niceties? It was a struggle, but I have willed myself to become a devotee of paper plates for large family gatherings.
And disposable tablecloths. You bring all four corners of the tablecloth to the center, tie the ends together, stuff it in the outdoor trash can with the flip-top lid and — voila — cleanup is done.
Out of the way, kids. Grandma has free time and is headed for the hammock.
The third secret to a successful summer is to invest in inflatables.
We are the proud owners of a giant inflatable water slide. The arch over the top has partially collapsed, and the base of the slide doesn’t inflate as much as it did two years ago, but it is still a hit.
We’re the fun house and we want to keep it that way. We will shamelessly compete to retain the distinction to draw the grands, which is why we also have an inflatable pool, two inflatable surf boards and three dozen water blasters that shoot water 20 feet. It’s true. Just ask the neighbors — the ones sitting on their patios wearing rain slickers.
The backyard often looks and sounds like a water park because it is.
In moments of sanity, which are few and far between, we have concerns about our water bill. On the upside, we have a very green lawn.
To maintain our good standing, we are in the market for some new inflatable water toys as we phase out the older, slowly collapsing ones. The husband is pondering an inflatable 6-foot unicorn that spouts water in two different configurations and I have my eye on a large pink flamingo floatie.
Who knows? We might even let the kids play with them.
Borgman is a columnist for Tribune News Service and she may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.