School is out. The sun is shining. And what does that mean? Summer is here! At our house this means we can look forward to endless days of absolutely nothing exciting to do. Yes, you read that right.
Aside from one church VBS and a youth missions trip, my kids have no organized activities on the calendar for the summer.
Enrichment Classes? Nope
Will they be bored? Possibly.
Do I care? Not really.
I am good for a ride to the beach and will rarely say no to an ice cream run, but other than that I don’t have much planned for the summer.
There have been times when I was tempted to gorge on the summertime buffet of sports and camps and enrichment activity for kids. It all looks amazing. But I decided that more than any enrichment, my kids need downtime. And if I am not proactive about scheduling unstructured seasons into my children’s lives, they will never get a break from the merry-go-round of activity inherent to the way we raise kids today.
So, instead of planning activity into my kids lives over the summer, I schedule it out of their lives. I block off the calendar with weeks of free time just as I would for a sport season. And we love it.
It saves money.
We have four children so any and all activities need to pass a rigorous evaluation of cost versus benefit. My kids don’t live for sports and I decided long ago it wasn’t worth pushing the issue. I don’t find it enjoyable to pay hundreds of dollars so that I can have the privilege of spending every summer evening at practice with the bonus of weekends on the sidelines. And it turns out, my kids don’t miss it.
It truly sets summer apart.
My no activity policy doesn’t apply during the school year. Each child can choose one recreational activity, a music lesson and ongoing church events. Multiply that by four and we run full steam ahead the entire school year.
I want summer to be different. I want summer to be less. I want my kids to have the gift of days spent lounging in swimsuits. I want their biggest stressors to be running out of freezie pops and wondering when I’ll cut up the watermelon. I want their minds to wander and unlimited opportunity for unstructured time with friends. And even if just one child is in an activity, it robs us of this glorious free time.
It saves our sanity.
Every activity comes with its own errands, equipment, harping on kids to get ready and driving hither and yon. It has become our cultural norm to have a family schedule that needs to be pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. Then it is rush rush rush from morning to night.
I believe every human soul needs a sabbatical from this frenetic pace. Both kids and adults. And if we don’t teach our kids the value of rest, no one will. Treating summer as a true break gives us mental room to breathe as a family. And it allows us to enter the fall refreshed, relaxed and ready to roll.
It isn’t easy to eschew the popular culture in which we live where we are expected to offer our children every opportunity for academic, social and personal enrichment. Even for a season. But we have found the break to be well worth it.