It has begun! As registration for summer camps begin to open, us parents have started to ask ourselves – with some anxiety – what am I going to do with the kids all summer???
Part of me is desperately looking forward to packing away the snow-boots and walking carelessly outside onto warm green grass, where the only thing scheduled is a cold beer at 4 o’clock… but part of me dreads the long stretch of summer days at home with two little kids to entertain.
On one hand, I want them to have a break form the routine – the schedules and structured activities that make up the bulk of the school year. I want them to have time and space in their day to follow a game wherever it may take them and for however long they desire. I want them to experience the freedom I had growing up to disappear into the woods or the neighborhood for hours at a time. I want them to experience the boredom of not knowing what to do and of not having anything planned.
On the other hand, that kind of laissez-faire approach to summer is a fairytale for most of us. Most of us will have to schedule childcare, camps, and activities for our kids this summer because of work or other obligations. And that’s not a bad thing necessarily. My kids will go to some camp programs this summer, no doubt about it. We’ll also do some traveling and those days might be tightly scripted.
What I’m suggesting, mostly for myself, is that I try to adopt the laissez-faire spirit as much as I can this summer. This mindset asks questions such as:
Can I let go of my agenda?
Can I leave some days and weekends totally unscheduled and allow the hours to unfold as they will?
Instead of traveling to far off places, can we explore our own local gems – allowing ourselves more time and space in those places before we need to move onto the next thing?
Can I empower my kids to make up the games and the entertainment without limiting them to time constraints? Can I give my kids a measure of freedom from constant supervision?
Can I “Do” less and “Be” more?
The laissez-faire summer is a mindful one. To allow things to unfold without interference is to live in the moment; to go with the flow. It is to prioritize intimacy and connection with our loved ones above constant activity and busyness. It is to enjoy the simple pleasures of family togetherness that come from lazy days by the pool, dinners al fresco, working side-by-side in the garden, and singing around a campfire.
When I think about such moments, I am filled with positive anticipation for summer. And so I am resisting the urge to commit to doing too much. I am fighting the pressure to sign up the kids for more activities. I am choosing to trust in myself and in my kids by leaving great big open spaces in our schedule. I know it won’t be easy. As a planner and an adventurer, it will be difficult for me to slow down…but what will I gain when I do? More awareness of the sun on my face perhaps. More connection with my kids and with myself. And hopefully, more of a feeling that the summer didn’t flash right by, but instead lingered on and on.