June 13, 2019
Summer months bring back fond memories for me as a child growing up in Minnesota. My sisters and I would step out the back door early in the morning and return late in the day when it was time for dinner. We would ride our horses, catch salamanders in the window wells, build forts in the woods and eat frozen missile pops from the ice cream truck that would pass through the neighborhood. I still hold on to those feelings of freedom and self-reliance from my childhood.
I think most of us would agree that the landscape of childhood has changed a lot since many of us were elementary age. Two career families and overscheduling of children is commonplace. Busy schedules and hectic days are familiar and often unquestioned.
As I have crossed paths with parents during these last weeks of school, I have discovered that many of you are facing summer vacation with the same mix of excitement, anticipation and a bit of dread. Knowing that the structured days are about to end, parents are rearranging work schedules, lining up play dates and childcare and finalizing camp plans. The world as we have known it since September is about to come to an end, and we are all getting ready.
As we depart for weeks of summer, I encourage you to allow for your sons and daughters to experience real “down” time in their summer schedules and chances to find the value in being alone. Let them engage in ordinary activities like washing the car with the garden hose, taking the dog for a walk around the block, or building a fort with the left-over cardboard boxes in the garage. Let them be bored and find something to do on their own. Let them discover resources that they did not know they had. Let them master the fine art of lollygagging that many of us remember as children.
Summer provides many perfect opportunities for adults to fade into the background of our children’s lives. Try to erase the schedule a day or two each week and simply let them be, because a day without a schedule is a day of possibilities. Remember, they are on vacation.
Wishing you a safe and simple summer.