I look forward to summer so much! But every summer, as I sit down with a calendar to mark off summer camps and activities, our summer is almost completely booked! When did we lose our summer? This actually started happening years ago, as our kids grew older and were involved in more activities. But as my children have grown up and started leaving the house, I’m realizing how important this time is for us.
When are we going to go camping? Or to the water park? Or just have a picnic in the mountains? When did summer become too busy to have fun? When did we get to the point that our weeks off are completely committed to sports and activities? What happened to summer???
I’m not suggesting we rebel and go off the grid for the summer, although it really is tempting. We have found that as kids get older, they risk being at a disadvantage during the season if they didn’t participate in the summer open gyms and camps. This could be for a variety of reasons, but I believe they need to be able to make the choice to immerse themselves in their team activities in the summer. But we also want them to continue to read and explore new things so that their brains keep working. And I need to reconnect with them, since this is the only time I have with them when I don’t have to remind them about homework and other obligations. In other words, this is my time!
The trick is to find the balance, but this is an ongoing battle as a parent. How can we let our kids participate in their summer activities while still maintaining a healthy balance of fun and relaxation? I don’t want my kids to lay around doing nothing all summer, but they do need to do a bit of that. And they need to try new things, have fun, and spend some real quality family time. My kids are a bit older, but they still need this, maybe even more now that they are in high school. So here is my strategy for taking back our summer in a time- and budget-friendly way:
- I am going to plan some family camping weekends that will be non negotiable, and in a place where there is no phone service.
- We need to prioritize activities. They can participate in school related activities, but maybe not every single one.
- I am going to insist that we try something new, as a family.
- We will try to tag on some summer activities with summer camps. Like staying an extra day to go to the waterpark.
- I will cook dinner with one of the kids at least one night per week. Maybe we will utilize the fire pit in the back yard to try new camping recipes.
- I will still insist on reading at least three books together, regardless of kids’ ages. They are never too old to enjoy a good book together.
- We will have adventures closer to home. We can still go on hikes, bike rides, or picnics within an hour from home. Even if these need to be held in the evening or midweek. We can even go to the local campground to cook dinner and hike from there.
- We will participate in more local summer activities, like outdoor concerts, movies in the park, farmer’s markets, and festivals.
- And of course we will roast marshmallows in the back yard regularly, because what would summer be without plenty of s’mores?
I am really feeling the need to protect our summer, even though I don’t want to pull my kids out of their activities completely. But my goal is that when school starts again we will feel like we actually had a summer. I want to feel like we spent a lot of time together, outside, relaxing and having fun, eating s’mores and making homemade ice cream. What are your plans for enjoying this summer?