When I was a kid, summer meant endless hours playing outside where days went by at a blissfully slow pace.
As a twenty-something, summer meant lazy days at music festivals on the weekends and humid evenings during the work week playing in the city.
Fast forward to adult summers with kids, and you have a guilt-inducing season of stress!
Guilt-inducing because whichever type of mom you are (a SAHM/part-time working out of the home mom/full-time commuter/the somewhere in-between mom) the guilt never quite escapes you. The guilt associated with “are you doing enough?” Are your kids doing enough? Is everyone having fun? Are their summers as laid-back as you fondly remember yours, or do you want to create the exciting summers you yourself longed for? Have you scheduled enough summer activities, camps and playdates? Is that summer vacation EVER going to happen as planned?
I began thinking about the summer when I my five-year old received his acceptance letter into kindergarten. How did this happen? Where did the last five years just go? Then the panic hit: What am I going to do with him this summer? Should I schedule a camp? Should we keep him enrolled at his current preschool? Hire a nanny? Take him to work with us and make the iPad his summer BFF?
Leave it to Beaver . . . .
So I asked my five year old, “What do you like doing?” Now this easily could have been met with requests for candy or cartoon time. And honestly a few times it was. So I asked him this same question several times over the span of a week and once, bless his heart, he even responded with “I like going to swimming pools with hotels attached to them.” YES SON, SO DOES MOMMY!
The response I heard most often however from my kid was “I like being with my family.” Now make no mistake we are no “Leave it to Beaver” style family. We lean more towards “The Simpsons” but for some reason the kid likes spending time with us and I am ashamed to say has recently started asking us to “PUT THE PHONE DOWN!”
I pledge to make this summer season fun . . . .
So this summer we are going to do summer his way, mixed with advice from our parent’s generation. The less technology and more outside time generation.
Community Playgrounds vs Indoor Scheduled Activities
While I agree indoor activities can be fun and teach kids valuable lessons it can also be easy to over-schedule. The amount of scheduled activities often get to the point where parent and child only speak in the car. And the expense dents the annual budget!! Instead, this summer we will head to a local playground. Luckily for us Sonoma and Napa Counties have plenty of wonderful (free) community spaces.
Community playgrounds not only lets us mingle with neighbors, but allows our kids to interact with children of all ages whilst learning to share and use their imaginations.
Just remember to bring along some water as that walk home with a tired dehydrated child is no fun!
Backyard picnics should come with only one rule: they must be fuss free!
Do finger foods or picnic basics such as sandwiches and fruit. Or better yet the week’s leftovers so everyone eats what they want. Anything, as long as it is on paper plates and requires minimal clean up!
Disconnecting the WiFi
Lets get real. We have all claimed a hundred times to use technology less and put down our phones, but rarely does it actually happen. So this summer I will try switching off the WiFi and disconnecting all technology for a full 24 hours each week. For one day each week I will let the calls go to voicemail, I will turn on my ‘out of office’ automated email reply (check your email settings, it exists) and I shall give my full attention to my family.
More Lazy Days
This summer we will opt for more lazy days, without the guilt, and no more over-scheduling, which can lead to the stress-filled rush of getting everyone out the door on time. We will enjoy the moment as it happens and teach our kids the importance of “being content.”