When my children were young, experienced mothers offered me suggestions for the school to summer transition.
- “Schedule your doctor and dentist appointments for right after school gets out. That’s what mothers-in-the-know do.”
- “Pick up summer bridge books to give your child a head start on the next grade level.”
- “Sign them up for lots of day camps to keep them busy.”
I had my own ideas of how summer should look, based on my idyllic childhood experience.
- Running around outside,
- Riding bikes,
- Climbing Trees,
- Playing in the sand, and
Surrendering to Schedules
Turned out the summers I remembered were not for babies, toddlers, or children who thrive on routine. My young children woke early (6:00 a.m. was sleeping in). They were hungry soon after, and needed activities to keep them busy.
I’d venture a one-eyed peek at the clock, knowing I must get out of bed. I’d hope that they would go back to sleep or allow me to lie on the couch. Eventually, I’d become alert enough to begin our daily program: breakfast, a long walk, a snack, reading, playing on the outdoor gym, lunch, and so on.
The children were happiest when they knew what to expect and one activity flowed smoothly into the next.
Surrendering to Self-Directed Activity
Years later, I was surprised to notice that I did not have a daily schedule and that my children were resisting my attempts at structured activity. After breakfast, they yearned to open the door and just go – wherever they chose. They returned when hungry.
My main tasks were meal preparation and housekeeping.
The key to enjoying summer with children is willingness to provide children with what they need. Some children feel good with schedules and structure. Others prefer having freedom to do what they want, when they want, without adult intrusions.
What works will probably change year to year – or even day by day. Our willingness to go with the flow makes summer living easy and fun.
If your children need scheduled activities and structure, check out Karen’s post at the Friendship Circle Blog.