Years ago, my neighbour and I sat watching our then younger children run through the water sprinkler in her backyard, enjoying the sounds of their laughter and the soft droplets that the wind swept our way. Basking in the above-average temperatures of that June, she closed her eyes and said, ‘Ah, only two weeks to go.’ ‘To what?’ I enquired. ‘To no more early morning routines, school lunches, punctual 3 pm pickups and extracurricular activities. I can’t wait for school to end.’ I had to echo her sentiments.
It’s not just kids who count down the days until summer vacation, but many parents too. Some parents look forward to the freedom of their kids being away at overnight camp. For others, it’s more about not having to get the kids up at a certain time, fed and out the door. It’s about not having to do as much clock watching, about not having to conjure up interesting healthy lunches and then despairing when they come home uneaten. It’s about spending some quality family time together.
For some families, day trips are the answer. A trip to African Lion Safari or to the local zoo can be just the trick to bind a family unbound by too many individual activities throughout the year. Better yet, a weekend away camping or a few days at a resort or cottage can be the magical solution to relaxation and reconnection after a stressful school year. It’s a time to linger over simple pleasures such as board games (even though I admit to calling them ‘bored’ games), playing frisbee or catch at the local park. It’s true that with all the programming and intense schedules that children, and their parents, manage all year, children often have a tough time transitioning from being busy every waking moment to taking on the slower, lazier pace of the summer. It may be for fear of their whining ‘I’m bored’ that parents organize similar schedules during the summer.
I recognize that not all parents have the luxury of hanging out with their children during the summer months, but for those of us fortunate to work part time or have summers off too, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with our kids. I’ve found that while some summer time planning is certainly warranted’three to four weeks of camp and a couple of weeks of family time works well for us’it’s great to leave half of the school summer break for kids to relax and invent ways to entertain themselves.
And then, just when you and they get the hang of lazy days and perfect the art of doing nothing in particular, it’s time to begin counting down the days to the start of another school year.