As we finish up the last few weeks of school, our thoughts are swirling with what we will do all summer. Moms chat with each other about all the summer programs that are available. Sports clinics, sleep away and day camps, swimming teams , baseball leagues and a ton of other opportunities are calling our kids’ names. In today’s world, there a MILLION and ONE ways to keep our kids busy all summer long. These summer opportunities sound amazing! Who wouldn’t want to spend a week learning about how to cook fun meals, have the chance to create art, sing and dance, or be a better hitter?! We have the opportunity to keep our kids programmed every day of the summer!
I’ll admit that as my kids have gotten older, I get a little nervous about how I am going to “entertain” them all summer. However, might I be missing the boat here when I think that I need to be my kids’ “camp” director? Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned summer with no plans?! I’m starting to think that maybe I need to re-frame my “role” in my kids summer. Perhaps, I should let them take the driver’s seat and I can be more of a passenger to their journey!
My kids’ summer is already somewhat scheduled with swim team, Little League, Safety Town and a few other camps. (So, have no fear, my kids will have a fun & full summer). But maybe, those days and hours where they don’t have a full plate, it will be okay to let them figure out what to do.
How many of us adults had our parents directing our every move all summer? Not many of us and certainly not me. My summers were filled with being creative in the backyard with whatever resources we could find, looking for neighbors to play with and maybe watching a little more T.V. than is acceptable these days.
I’ll admit that this stance isn’t always easy for me as I love to come up with fun and creative things to do with my family. We’ve already created our summer fun list together and I can’t wait to get started on it. However, for all of those in between moments of summer, when there is no set plans, I’m thinking that it might be good idea to let my kids have a chance to taste freedom ( & boredom)!
Children Only Get One Childhood
The other day I was at the store and an employee asked my 5-year-old if he was in school. When I told her he was starting kindergarten in the Fall, she told him to enjoy his last carefree summer! That comment really hit home for me! How many free and easy summers do our children really have? Can we stop for a moment here and let that realization sink in…
Sooner than later, our kids will be busy with summer jobs, summer band camps and fall sports preparations! We might be able to count on less than two hands how many years kids truly have no major summer obligations!
Being Bored is Okay
As a child, I certainly remember having moments of boredom. But I survived–and it was in those moments that some of my best activities for play were born! For parents, it is so easy to want to solve our kids problems which includes when they come to us complaining about being bored! Seriously, as a mom in the summer, nothing is worse than hearing our kids yell “I’m BORED!”
We have to push past our own feelings of discomfort and perhaps, annoyance, and let kids solve the boredom blues! This might mean not offering up a solution when our child comes to us wondering what to do. Even though we might have a few ideas, is it better in the long-term to encourage our kids to come up with their own?
Allow Kids to Make Their Own Rules of the Game
It is necessary to fight against today’s norm of directing every move of our kids lives–especially their free time opportunities! Kids have very few choices in their schedules when you factor in school, homework and extracurricular activities. They don’t get to pick when and where they have to go. Our kids are so scheduled that they are so limited in their opportunities to be creative and come up with their own ideas of play. Unfortunately, then when kids are given a few minutes to be alone they have no idea what to do!
Why not let them make choices on what they want to do with their free time. This might be a bit foreign to kids at the beginning. But kids are adaptable and creative individuals! When left to their own devices, they can and will come up with fun things to do.
Summer of Balance
So, while I am not suggesting we abandon all of the plans we have already made for our kids this summer, I am suggesting that we let our kids experience that foreign word called BOREDOM! I’m encouraging parents to consider NOT scheduling every minute of the summer. Perhaps letting the kids decide the plans for the day. Or maybe even letting the kids come up with a summer fun list completely on their own. As a mom who loves coming up with fun things to do with my kids, this might take a little bit of self-control for me!
But, from my own personal experiences as a kid, I do know that being bored is OK. I am thankful that I was given the chance to be bored. As a result, I want my children to have that opportunity that I was given.
This post was originally shared on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine.