Unsolicited Advice on Summer Days

Written by: Amy Allendar

“Ugh. North Dakota? Isn’t it like, really, really cold there?” This is the lament I hear most often when I tell someone we live in Minot.

My reply is nearly always the same. “It’s only cold in the winter, and the summers are always worth it.” Then I’ll ramble on for a good, long while about how there is no humidity–even though the locals continue to insist otherwise. I’ll rave about mowing after 9pm, long evenings outdoors with neighbors or spent at the community pool, and the pure happiness brought on by such a large amount of vitamin D.

That time of year is nearly here. The evenings are light, the mornings are bright. The golden days of summer are closing in.
And while I’m excited to welcome back summer and all it entails–especially listening to locals gush about their trips to “The Lake”–there’s one little catch.

If you know me, you know I talk about North Dakota as someone else might talk about their beloved, but slightly-dorky nephew they’re trying to set up on a date. I genuinely love this place, but I also really want other people to like it. So you’ll rarely hear me say anything negative without putting a positive spin on it. Because, after all, I want you to go out on a proverbial date with North Dakota, and fall deeply in love.

Today, I’ll give you a little unsolicited advice about one of my biggest challenges with North Dakota life: the endless light.
I love the summers here. I love the extra hours of light. I romanticize the endless days.

But, as a mom to young kids, these endless days are also my worst enemy.
The vast amount of sunlight we get up here is quite frankly, disorienting. Especially for someone who wasn’t born and raised with this as a “normal” way of life. The days are long enough, but to add insult to injury, we throw a time-change on top of it. I do not need to save any daylight. What I need to do is get my kids to bed, which is really hard when their bodies think it’s high noon at 7pm.

Yes, there are a lot of good things about the long days. But to be honest, the January windchill is a little easier to navigate. The windchill is uncomfortable, but it will never cause me to forget to start dinner until 8pm. The windchill will never entice me to feed my children marshmallows and chocolate at 9pm then glance in horror at the time and realize we’ve already overshot bedtime by an hour. January will never influence my preschool children to get out of bed at 5am and insist their nightlights, which turn green at “wake up time,” must be wrong. Surely this amount of light and this amount of bird racket means it’s an acceptable time to be awake.

Say what you will about NoDak winters, but they’ll never keep you up past bedtime or wake you up early.
Summer, on the other hand, is a sly temptress that really messes with my Type A, schedule-loving brain.
So here are three pieces of unsolicited advice on enjoying the world’s most beautiful summer, while also attempting to get small children fed and in bed at a reasonable hour.

First, blackout curtains. Everyone will tell you to buy blackout curtains, but since I’m your Minot BFF, I’ll tell you the truth. Blackout curtains don’t cut it. The curtains may block light, but there is still going to be loads of sun pouring in around the edges, especially above the rod.

Here are my fixes–which are all pretty affordable, because I love a good, cheap solution. Fit your child’s window with a blackout roller shade, then add a black out curtain on top of it.

If you aren’t into roller shades, I find that draping a long cut of dark fabric above the curtain rod works wonders for stopping up that extra light. And, if you’ve got the option, get curtains that extend a bit below the window sill. This helps with the light coming in from underneath.

I love Minot summers, but getting kids to bed is tricky. In our youngest’s room we use black fabric over the curtain rod to block out extra light.
Amy Allender photo

Next, let’s talk about dinner. Let me assure you. At first you will completely lose track of time and schedule. My second piece of advice: Avoid hangry children. Set an alarm to remind you to start dinner. Sometimes it’s the only way I remember to yank myself inside and get food on the table.

Third, and last. Do your best to be flexible and let go. This is the advice I repeat to myself over and over. These days are the best, full of outdoor play and time spent with friends. The kids will get to sleep. The dishes will get done. We’ll all eat at some point.

Enjoy these days, stay up a little late, try to sleep in, skip a bath, eat snacks for dinner–do what you need to in order to take in this season. The dark, cozy days of winter will be back soon enough, then we can all go to bed early.
For more stories of She’s Not From Around Here life, and inspiration for shaping a positive outlook, join me on Instagram (@amy_allender) and Facebook (@amyallenderblog).

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