I want to try to give my kids a summer like I had when I was a kid. Call me nostalgic. Call me naïve. I don’t care. I want my kids to have a laidback summer like mine were back in the day.
You know, the kind where we ran amuck from sun up ‘til sundown? The kind where we rode bikes, swam in the neighbor’s above-ground pool, dove through the Slip n’ Slide, and ran through the sprinklers. The kind where the popsicles dripped down our chins, we listened for the ice cream truck, and let all of our energy out on our lawns. Yeah, those kinds of summers. But the only way that I can make sure my kids have that kind of summer is to be sure that I don’t overschedule them with activities.
You know all those camp flyers we get in the mail? I’m pitching them. Or, what about the endless summer activity flyers that are sent home from your kids’ school? Yup, I’m tossing those in the trash, too. What kind of summer will I give my kids if I constantly schedule them for stuff. I know many parents who are signing their kids up for Monday night soccer, an art class on Tuesdays, gymnastics on Thursdays, and four—that’s right, four—full-week camps. No, thank you.
Summers are created to give a break for the kids—and honestly, for the parents, too. By overscheduling our kids, we aren’t giving them the freedom that they crave all school year. Let’s be real, with the schools’ rigor these days, our children have most certainly earned it. And parents, we’ve earned it, too. Give yourself, and your car-taxi, a break from running your kids from practice to practice.
My kids’ summer is going to be wide open—just like it was last year. My son will do one nature-inspired camp for a week, and his little sister will just hang out with Mom. Other than that, it’s a free for all. In the mornings, they’ll run to the neighbor’s house, still in their pajamas, and play Legos or House. The neighbors, they’ll come over in the evenings for a bonfire and we’ll roast some marshmallows. During the day, those kids will spend those in their bathing suits running between the yards squealing.
If you long to give your kids a summer like you had—throw those flyers in the trash. Resist the urge that society places upon us to overschedule our kids by putting them in every damn activity that comes along. They’ll be fine without all of that over-enrichment. They don’t need it—and more importantly—they won’t remember it. But they will remember summers spent with friends and family, being carefree, nourishing their relationships, and soaking in the summer sun.
So, to prepare for this summer, I’m slam-dunking those camp and activity flyers in the trash so that my kids can have memories of what a childhood is supposed to look like: dripping popsicles, running through the sprinklers, and diving onto the Slip n’ Slide.