The Cruelest Season

21 Reasons Why Summer Sucks For Parents

Summer was so much fun! And then you had a kid.

Originally Published: 
Man comforting his upset daughter at swimming pool
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The first official day of summer this year is June 21, 2023. But, for families, summer basically starts in May. And unlike the past three years, there’s a chance you might actually be able to do something! So, let’s get excited about summer! Or. Maybe not? It’s great that the weather is warm and all. But is summer actually good for parents? Spoiler alert: Nope! Summer is terrible for parents.

When you were young and childless, it was easy to embrace summer. Once the warm days of the summer arrive, drinking outside during the day becomes the norm. You can start wearing clothes that take two seconds to put on. And assuming you enjoy swimming, summer lets you suddenly do a lot of it. In short, when you don’t have a kid, summer is the best. And yet, all of these things are totally horrible when you become a parent. Summer goes from being the greatest time of the year to the worst. For parents, the metamorphosis of summer from a previously celebratory time to a labyrinth of never-ending nightmares is one of the greatest betrayals of adulthood.

In no particular order, here are the 21 reasons why summer sucks for parents and is indisputably the worst time of the year.

21. Summer Camp Is SO Expensive.

In 2022, the ACA said the average cost of summer camp in the United States was around $178.49 a day, and for sleep-away camp, it was $448.53. Those numbers could increase by as much as 35% this year. You’re gonna be broke by Thanksgiving.

20. You Lose Any Progress You’ve Made On Screen Time

Summer is not the time for the kids to go frolic alone out with friends in the yard — that was true of the 80s but now the kids just want more Minecraft, more Bluey, and more Disney movies… And you’ll give it to them because it’s summer, that only means one thing: Even more screen time than before.

19. No One Can Keep The Schedule Straight

Routine is the greatest tool for parents. It keeps kids' behavior at bay and anxieties down for both kids and parents. But try as you may, the summer does not allow for routine. It ain’t there and everyone’s world feels like it’s spinning because of it.

18. Hot car seats

Dealing with a car seat for your infant or toddler is a big enough task on its own, but once you add in weather issues, car seats become a headache that feels like a three-month-long hangover. Did you know that heated leather seats in your car can cause your correctly installed car seat to slowly shift and get in the wrong position? Yeah, time to hit up a car seat check. Like, every three weeks in the summer.

17. Putting sunscreen on kids

It doesn’t matter how old your child is — 8 weeks old or 18 years old — putting sunscreen on a child is terrible because a child reacts to any sunscreen like a cat would react to be being slathered in hot spaghetti sauce. They shriek. They resist. They freak out. And worst of all, all this resistance means that you’re not going to get the kid properly covered — which means you’re just going to worry about it endlessly once you do get out in the sun.

16. Camp Grandma and Grandpa confirms your worst fears

You’ve always had the sneaking suspicion your kid loves your parents more than you. Summer gives you all the confirmation you need. We’re talking about grandparent withdrawal: that thing your kid experiences after a week at “Camp Grandma and Grandpa” watching whatever they want, when they want; eating cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and not being told what to do, not once.

15. Sand

Remember when everyone made fun of Hayden Christensen in Attack of the Clones when Anakin Skywalker says: “I don’t like sand, it’s course, rough and it gets everywhere.” Yeah, well, the young Darth Vader was actually onto something. Sand is terrible. Kids eat it. It stays in your car forever and it mixes poorly with ice cream and sunscreen. (Two other things on this list that are a massive burden.)

14. Kids expect to be outside constantly

Another nightmare is that during the summer months, kids also want to be outside constantly. And unlike the winter months, you don’t have an excuse. Depending on where you live, the warmth and sunshine can be fleeting, meaning you oddly do owe it to yourself, your partner, and your kid to get outside as much as possible. But, that expectation is hell.

13. More frequent baths

You know how you can get away with not bathing your toddler every single day? Yeah, forget it in the summer. Your kid is going to stink to high heaven if you don’t give them a bath every single day. Sometimes you’ve got to do this twice a day; depending on what kind of hellish outing you’ve just been on. (Did we already mention ice cream and sand?)

12 Hot weather will give everyone a short temper

Being hot means you’re short of breath. Being short of breath means you’re impatient. Now, factor in being a parent.

11. Your kid is peeing in the pool

Probably right now. As you swim beside them.

10. All swim diapers are terrible

If your kid is not potty-trained yet, then you’re grappling with the bizarre buttons of swim-diapers. And that’s enough to drive a person to drink.

9. Ice cream trucks

Fatherly’s resident parenting editor — Patrick Coleman — covered this topic in a killer personal essay. Here’s the big takeaway: Ice cream trucks are basically instruments of a secret society of devil worshipers who want to enslave your children by making them believe the most important sounds in the world are the insipid tones of the ice cream truck music.

8. Popsicles

Even worse than ice cream cones because popsicles have choking hazards as a built-in feature. Also, at least with ice cream, you can wipe it off. The stains from popsicles though? That’s like shooting red wine from a super-soaker onto a piece of white linen while throwing grape jelly at it, too.

7. Your Dadbod is not a beach bod

This is obvious. Most dads have a hard time finding a great T-shirt they can wear all the time. But, what happens when you have to take that T-shirt off? Yeah, this is why dads actually don’t like summer. Like. At. All.

6. Aggressive sunlight and longer days destroy naps and bedtime

So you were putting your kid down to bed at 6:45 pm in the winter. That was working. Guess what? In the summer, even if you have light-lock curtains, your child knows it’s broad daylight outside until, like, at least 8:00 pm. They can see the daylight at dinner time, and those horrible rays of sunshine are fighting their way through the cracks in their curtain when they are supposed to be settling down to sleep.

5. Cargo shorts

Look. Nobody likes cargo shorts. Nobody. But how can you be an effective summer dad without them? Do you really want to carry the sunscreen, the bug spray, and all the extra stuff in a diaper bag on the beach? Probably not!

4. Parents live in constant fear of dehydration

We all know you need to drink a lot of water in the summer. Statistically, men suck at this very simple and life-saving task. But, when you’re a parent, this is even scarier. Dehydration is the emotional potboiler of summer parenting; the more you try not to think about it, the more it will destroy your sanity.

3. School supply shopping starts in July

Last time we checked, July is the middle of summer. Why are we already thinking about school again?

2. Vacations aren’t vacations

Planning a vacation, either in town or a faraway destination (like Disneyland) is not relaxing. It’s nothing but schedules and budgets and sleepless nights about those schedules and budgets. And that’s just the worst of it before the vacation actually starts. Everyone is sick of the cliché that you need a vacation from your vacation, but it’s said so much because it’s really true.

1. You’re still at work!

Even though we might hate nearly every aspect of summer, there’s still another, counter-phenomenon we’ve discovered at Fatherly, which we like to call “FOMOOTSFYKAHWYAW”: the fear of missing out on the summer fun your kids are having while you’re at work. For those of us who are forever “working remotely,” this has gotten worse. Not only is summer fun happening, but it’s also happening at your house and in your front yard while you are working.

If you’re headed into a job away from home it’s even worse. Unless you work in public education, you don’t actually get a summer vacation, which means you’re missing everything your kids are doing, and it’s killing you. Summer is here. Sure. But not for you!

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