Summer vacation can just fly by, especially with the pressure to enroll them in so many activities. As with a lot of things, doing less can be more. Read on for tips on how to slow down your summer, giving your children fond memories of well-spent family time!
I was a kid just before the information age really took a step towards the all powerful. My summers were spent mostly at home, being bored. Sometimes I wonder if those summers were not better for our kids than the current ideal, which seems to be sending your kid to every camp imaginable and then VBS while they are at home.
I see so many moms give up their summers with their kids so their kids can be “occupied”… but there is BEAUTY in being bored out of your mind. Especially if you mom has chores for you to do if you say you are bored too many times in one day (“Oh? You’re still bored? Well here is a basket of socks for you to pair and then you can vacuum the living room. Let me know if you are still bored when you are done.”)
To avoid chores in my childhood home, I found things to do… I caught bugs in mason jars that my mom punched holes in the top of and watched them until they were nearly dead and my mom made me put them back. I picked leaves for potions with the neighbors and made mud pies in dishes that were not intended for outdoor play. I played with my dog for hours in the back yard, counting just how many times he would bring back that stick. I took long naps and played with the kids that were home from school in my neighborhood, riding bikes until 10pm (where it is still light here in summer). I cherish these memories so much that I have invested many summers in this type of life for my children.
We have done VBS and even camp, but in my life (and my children’s) it is only a couple days per year and the rest of the summer is spent at a blissfully slow pace.
In this world of the “overscheduled”, where do our kids have time for these types of wonderful memories? Here are three steps to help you slow down summer:
- What type of summer feels better to you? This isn’t a trick question… your ideal summer does not have to look like mine. Are you getting your moneys worth out of these days when you and your kids are all together or do you constantly feel like a taxi cab driver, running on a triple venti frap?
- If slowing down your summer is important to you, take a minute to think about each obligation. Make a list of the ones you think are most important, and allow you to “deobligate” yourself from things that don’t make the cut. Then talk with your kids about that list. Have them cut out one or two. And there you go — you may have a slow summer plan already.
- Have an action plan in place. As much as I hate to say it, children are not born with the ability to play… or if they are, it is squeezed out of them by the time they are six or seven. Have a plan for the “I’m bored” moments. Have mason jars ready to catch bugs (or at least know where they are), check sprinklers to make sure that they work, and when everyone is stir-crazy and in-the-neighborhood-play is not an option, perhaps a zoo pass would be a great idea. Protect your unscheduled time! That is very important. Don’t schedule a zoo trip, allow it to be a fluid option in your bag of tricks for your slow summer.
Some ideas to put in your bag of tricks:
- Taking a long walk in a space you have never been before.
- Taking a long walk in your own neighborhood!
- Get into a long book series. If you have kids old enough, they can do this one too!
- Watching airplanes with your toddlers from a blanket in the back yard.
- Cut the cord, and get rid of cable television. With the first months savings, buy a hammock to nap in.
- Berry picking at a local farm
- Hikes in nature (here are 5 that you can do right now!)
- Taking long naps with no regrets
- Having “movie days” (if this feels too mindless, get educational library movies)
- Take a “no friend day”
- Cooking for maximum leisure time – plug your slow cooker in an outside outlet and have slow cooker tacos or chicken tortilla soup on the back porch.
- Staycations – (what is a staycation?)
- Ask the kids – what adventure do you want to have today?
- Build forts inside
- Build forts outside
- Have a back yard camp out
- Build a fire and have s’mores in your back yard