Summer has arrived! No more lunches to pack, kids to rush out the door, homework to tackle, and general school shenanigans to maintain. But even with all the wonderful aspects of summer, I'm still not sure whether to dance a jig, or pour more vodka into my jigger. I can only think of one thing:
THE KIDS WILL BE HOME. A LOT. And that thought frightens me to no end.
So for the past month, I have been online searching local activities. I have e-mailed twenty-five other moms to find out what their kids are doing, collected fliers, and checked the library bulletin board. I have a folder next to my computer with fliers and calendars and sign-up sheets. I have signed up for so many things online, I'm not sure who is supposed to be where and when.
So here we are, day one of summer, and my kiddos are scheduled up the ying-yang for sports and camps and bible school and volunteer work. All this—multiplied by three kids—and I practically had to remortgage my house just to pay for it all.
But while this may keep them fully busy, the one thing I seem to forget each year is that Busy Schedule for Kids = Crazy Schedule for Me. And that does NOT equal enjoyable summer.
Oops. I did it again.
But damn it, summer is short and there are so many fun things for my kids to do ... right?
Here's the question: Why is it so hard for us, as parents, to just let them have a little time to be ... well ... kids? To ride their bikes in the driveway and get skinned knees and stubbed toes because their bodies are growing too fast. To make forts in the woods, play baseball in the front yard, and kick-the-can with neighborhood kids. I remember saying to my mom when I was a little girl, "I just want a whole summer to do nothing." Needless to say, she laughed—like that was ever going to happen. But I had once wished for that summer freedom, and I'm sure my kids wish for it, too.
And therein lies the trick: striking the perfect balance of busy enough to keep them out of trouble, and free enough to enjoy the magic of those fleeting childhood summers. Because it's important, children's freedom. It's the time they get to explore themselves; to find out what they truly and genuinely like in life. A time that they learn by experiences, make mistakes, prove their worthiness, and gain their confidence.
So I vow to plan family excursions, not take summer sports too seriously, let them have days off when they want them. Because truly, how much more maddening could it be having them around than driving them around?
In three months my kids will return to a grade higher, a year older, and nine more months of spending more time with their teachers than with their parents. They will play fall, winter, and spring sports, and we will eat fast food too many times a week because we are so dang busy driving kids around. So for now, I'm going to try to seize the moment, not overschedule, enjoy just BEING with my kids. I will give my kids time to run free. For these are fleeting moments, and summer is the best time of our lives.
Written by: Pam Toigo is a part-time working, full-time mother of three. She's also a wife, decorator, shopper, runner, and blogger, among other titles. To read more from Pam, visit www.thepulledtogethermom.com.
Photo courtesy of Pam Toigo.