The signs that summer vacation is approaching are all around us. Rules are becoming a bit more lax as the end of the school year slowly draws near. The rushed mornings of frantically packing lunches and looking for missing shoes are numbered, and the structure we established in September has long since been abandoned. There are more field trips, and homework feels like less of a priority to everyone as the general interest in school wanes.
If we plan to stay home with our kids over the summer, this might be a good thing. We might be eagerly anticipating all that summer holds in store, from camping trips and cook outs to lazy mornings and movie marathons. We might be looking forward to summer every bit as much as our kids. Summer is a time to slow down, enjoy family, and embark on adventure.
For many parents, summer can also feel daunting. Summer can feel like nothing more than two and a half months of playing maid, chef, and referee as restless children bicker and complain of boredom.
Even if you’re eagerly anticipating summer, that enthusiasm can wane if we aren’t careful. Here are a few suggestions to avoid the traps of the painful, seemingly endless summer.
1. Go outside A LOT
Ride bikes, go to the park, hike, swim, run through the sprinklers. Whatever your family enjoys doing outside, do that as much possible. Most kids have a lot of energy (maybe you’ve noticed), and the more active your kids are, the better they will sleep and the more amenable they will be. Even if you’re the “indoorsy” type, get your kids outside every single day for as long as humanly possible.
2. Be flexible
Sometimes the days aren’t going to go as planned. That’s okay. Be flexible and take each day as it comes. You might have a million craft projects planned that no one wants to do or high hopes for swimming at the pool every day only to find that it’s closed for renovation this year. Some days your kids might watch too much tv, and sometimes you might all stay in your pajamas the entire day. Do what works for everyone and let go of expectations for what you should be doing.
3. Be realistic
You aren’t going to get a lot done if you’re home with the kids. There will be more messes, more clean up, and more feeding everyone (seriously, these people want to eat every single day). This probably means more work for you, and that’s time you won’t be spending on other projects. Be realistic about what you can accomplish so you aren’t driving yourself crazy with an impossible “to do” list.
4. Slow Down
What was your favorite thing about summer as a kid? I have memories of reading in the backyard with my mom, climbing trees with my best friend by the creek between our houses, and staying up late to watch tv with my brothers when my parents thought I was in bed.
I don’t remember much about our big road trip to Montana. I remember the simple moments that unfolded when there was nothing else to do. I remember making up new games with the neighbor kids and riding my bike.
Summer vacation doesn’t need to be structured, and kids don’t need enrichment after months of being cooped up in a classroom. Slow down enough that your kids can feel every bit as free as they need to be. Let them be bored, and don’t worry if it looks like they aren’t accomplishing anything at all. That’s what summer is all about.