School’s out for the summer. Now what?
One thing is for sure: sitting around doing nothing is not an option.
It seems that in the New South, everyone has somewhere to go … all the time. Our schedules don’t allow for plain ol’ downtime. You remember that, right? Get-up-at-11-stay-in-your-pajamas-watch-TV-barely-move-off-the-sofa-all-day-kind-of-lazy?
Those days are gone. The way we “relax” these days is to go and do.
Our schedule this summer includes weekend getaways, swimming lessons, camps, Vacation Bible School, business travel with the family and, of course, our annual beach vacation. The dreaded “I’m bored” should not cross the lips of my children all summer. They will be busier than I ever was during my elementary school years. But maybe that’s the problem.
There’s simply too much to do these days. We have too many options.
In the push for giving our children new experiences, keeping them occupied and expanding their horizons, we fill every possible minute of their lives leaving them no time for creative play, true discovery or even just relaxation.
During the school year we go from school to homework to scouts to music lessons to church to bed. When our first two children were preschoolers, we swore we would not be that family. Now, with three kids, two of them in school, we have come to expect this kind of schedule.
But what’s more insidious is the way our summers have become just as over-programmed and jam-packed. We don’t know how to slow down or let our kids have any time to recover. We forget that less is more.
Don’t get me started on television. Television is the enemy. I get that. I don’t want my children spending their summer in front of Sponge Bob re-runs or Phineas and Ferb any more than the next parent. I also don’t want to be filling their time so that they miss out on the experience of having to come up with something to do. Some of the best play my brothers and I had growing up occurred when we had an unscheduled afternoon or even day, and we had to decide how to fill it.
To that end, I was glad to hear Carla tell the children yesterday that there will be no screen time during the day this summer. She even instituted a policy for herself. She got up early, finished her computer time before the kids came down, and didn’t look at a screen again all day. After a morning of playtime and five hours at the pool, she felt justified in letting the kids veg in front of Disney channel while she cooked dinner. At the end of the day, she called it a success.
Forgive me for lecturing, but if you have children and have already mapped out an activity for every day this summer, go back and revise your plan just slightly to work in a few pajama days. And for those vacations to the beach, don’t fill every hour with extreme sports and touristy excursions.
Let your children experience something that may be one of the most important life skills you can offer them: give them some space and let them figure out how to fill the time.
And if that degenerates into Wrestlemania XXIX, time out in their rooms accomplishes the same thing.
Happy summer and y’all be safe.
How are you spending your summer? How did you spend your summer breaks from school as a child? Leave a comment below and share your plans or your strategies to balance engagement and relaxation.