Why Summer Is For Summer In Our House


“Downtime is where we become ourselves, looking into the middle distance, kicking at the curb, lying on the grass or sitting on the stoop and staring at the tedious blue of the summer sky.” – Anna Quindlen, “Doing Nothing Is Something”

My Summer calendar is completely blank.  Yes, I have plenty of pens around the house.  And yes, I’m one of those dinosaurs who still insists on keeping a paper calendar. 

My paper calendar is also intentionally devoid of camps, club sports and Summer school lessons.  Just as my planning method may be considered archaic, I’m afraid my opinion about not scheduling a bounty of Summer activities for our child may be just as archaic. 

We have declared, “Summer is for Summer” in our house.  Summer means appreciating the beautiful weather, luscious green grass and fragrant flowers we’ve longed for during the painfully cold winter.  Packing a cooler of sandwiches, snacks and popsicles for hanging out at the pool.  Not training for swim meets or taking advanced swim lessons – just good old-fashioned splashing around the pool – play Marco Polo – teach yourself water tricks – fun at the pool and beach. 

Nights are filled with family walks, bicycle rides and chasing fire flies.  The swing set in the backyard provides the perfect attraction for impromptu neighborhood get togethers to work off that extra energy right before bed.  And yes, we’ll take in a few baseball games, go berry picking and visit out-of-town family.  All of which we couldn’t do as freely if our calendar was filled.

Just like grown-ups, kids need downtime.  Time to think.  Time to form their own thoughts.  Time to be creative.  The unfortunate part of making an effort to deprogram our Summer is that we are now in the minority.  Maybe downtime is more of a luxury than a philosophy – or worse, considered to be lazy. 

For our child, independence is looming and the increasing household silence it brings for us as parents draws near.  So for now, we’re taking advantage of the fringes of the clingy years and cherishing the fact that we’re still cool to our little one.  And, listening to the wisdom of friends whose children have grown up all too fast with the following words of advice, “Screw camps, go from pjs to swimsuits and back to pjs, dress only to go to Dairy Queen and relish every minute.” 

We’ll see how long we can keep our Summers from being over programmed in a more than ever-fast paced society.  Or, until we hear the “B-O-R-E-D” word one too many times.  You’ll know when I write a post on “Summer Camps – The Best Way To Have Peace In The House”.

You can read Anna Quindlen’s full Essay “Doing Nothing Is Something” at http://www.newsweek.com/2002/05/12/doing-nothing-is-something.html

How are you planning to spend your summer?

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8 thoughts on “Why Summer Is For Summer In Our House

  1. I identify with you so much. My sister is the opposite of both of us. Her calendar is so packed with activities I cringe anytime I peek at it while visiting at her home. That is her, though. And, being scheduled to the brink of madness appears to make her very happy. I, however, limit the number of activities I schedule for both the school year and summer. Like you, I believe my children need a chance to play independently with neighborhood friends or just by themselves without the restriction of structured activities. Plus, I really don’t feel like being a chauffer all summer long. Being chef, waitress, maid, home school teacher, referee and playgroup coordinator will keep me busy enough I think. We don’t have a pool. But, are lucky to know a generous neighbor a couple houses down as well as a family who offers cheap, no-pressure swim lessons just a 5 minute drive away. Where do I sign up to join the archaic paper calendar club? While I usually keep track of my family’s schedule with a computer-generated calendar, I also keep a paper calendar. I find writing my obligations into those cute little squares helps me remember where all of us are supposed to be and when. Enjoy your summer!

  2. I am so on your page; I feel sorry for both the kids AND the parents in these overly-scheduled households. We need more fireflys and downtime than tennis lessons and achievement camps.

  3. We, too, are in the “fringes of the clingy years” with my oldest. I plan to cherish summer as well, though it is ME who tends to over plan. So I’ll be doing my best to foil that part of my brain as we laze about…

    Great post!

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