What Do Your Children Need this Summer – It May Not Be What You Think!
Summer is here – finally! How are you feeling? Happy? Relaxed? Excited? Stressed? Nervous? Depending on the age of your children and your work and family situation, you may be feeling any or all of those things. Summer can be great, but it also can be very stressful for moms.
One of the things that adds to our stress is the expectations we put on ourselves. We tend to think that our children need all sorts of activities and “experiences” during the summer – endless camps, teams, trips, lessons and outings. If we don’t have an activity planned for a certain day (or, heaven forbid, an entire week!) we tend to feel a bit nervous and stressed, maybe even a little guilty.
But is that really what our children need this summer? Sure, those things are fun, and we want to give those kinds of experiences to our children. But when we try to ensure that summer consists of one exciting experience after another, are we giving them what they need the most?
Maybe not. More than any previous generation, our children are scheduled and stimulated day in and day out. They run from one activity to another, and when they’re not running they’re planted in front of a screen.
They don’t have time to slow down, think, relax, create or even play. And they rarely have time to get bored, which was a summer staple when I was a kid. (“Mom, I’m bored!” “Go outside and play. Read a book. Draw. Figure out something to do.”)
Having time to think and create – and even time to be bored – allows children to use their brains, to learn to be creative, and to develop coping skills. It gives them a chance to relax, to chill out, and to enjoy time with friends and family. It lets them know that life isn’t about being “on the go” every minute of every day. And it may be exactly what our children need this summer.
If you’re worried that you don’t have enough planned for your children this summer, let go of some of that anxiety. Instead of trying to entertain them every waking hour, give them some time and space to relax, create, experiment and – yes – even figure out what to do when they’re “bored.”
And give them time with you and your husband. Plan low-key family activities, like hikes, picnics, soccer in the backyard, or swimming at a park. Honestly, I think that kids sometimes enjoy those activities more than an elaborate vacation or weeks at camp!
If you take a vacation, keep it low-key too. You don’t have to spend every day doing something “amazing.” Frankly, when our kids were young, they enjoyed swimming at the hotel pool as much as any fancy vacation activity!
And remember that summer is for you too – not just for your kids. Take time to decide what you really want this summer, and take steps to slow down and make sure those things happen. And if you take a summer vacation, make sure it’s mom- and dad-friendly, not just kid-friendly.
How are you feeling about the summer? Please let me know in the Comments – I would love to hear from you.
Download this free printable reminder – What Our Children Really Need this Summer.
Summer Fun for Families (includes Amazon affiliate links)
Also published at Red Tricycle.
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