It’s the end of May and I already feel it–the pressure to make summer magical for my kids.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m just trying to get to summer.
Lunch boxes are filthy, backpacks are nasty, reading folders are unsigned and homework folders are…somewhere. We are limping to the finish line, people.
We were like the little engine who could and now we. just. can’t.
My inbox is bulging with camp invitations and appealing summer fun. And my kids have started asking, “What are we doing this summer?”
I have no idea.
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing perfect about my life. It’s messy. There are unexpected bills and difficult decisions and challenging relationships, crockpot dinners and there is a lot of hard work.
Past summers have taught us that unplanned, spontaneous days are often favorites. But it’s easy to listen to what our culture is telling us our kids need June, July and August–but let’s talk about what they don’t need this summer:
1. A Free Pass– It’s okay to expect our kids to work a little–to help cook and clean, and work extra jobs around the house. If they aren’t old enough to rake leaves or babysit, create a job jar with suggested ideas. Let’s face it, moms need help and kids feel good about helping (usually after they are done).
2. An Elaborate Calendar of Events– It’s okay for kids to be bored, to have an unscheduled day of doing nothing. This is the fertile ground that often produces creativity. Give them a cardboard box and send them to the backyard.
3. A Pin-worthy Summer | I try not to even look at Pinterest. Oh, I love it, but sometimes, all the perfection makes me feel pretty pathetic. And really, I don’t want to know the 101 things I can make with a pool noodle. So, give yourself a break and give them paper and crayons and call it art.
4. Everything They Ask For | Summer often means kids go where we do–the grocery store, the gas station, into the bathrooms we are occupying. I’m learning my kids won’t actually die of hunger or boredom because I make them wait. Last week, my daughter saw a huge inflatable water slide at the store (Mom, it’s for the backyard and it’s only $499.00!) I told her she could put the water hose on the trampoline and she felt like she’d won the moon. Kids will usually take everything we give them. But that doesn’t mean we should give them everything they want.
5. Our Guilt | Moms tend to feel guilty about just about everything. Too much, too little. Let’s give ourselves a big fat break!
6. Stuff They Don’t Need | One summer I filled up a box called our Summer Box and it was basically a lot of junk that I hoped would occupy my kid’s time. It did for 37 seconds and then they wanted me to refill it. Oh, I was naive. Learn from my mistake. Hand them a water hose and put them in the backyard.
7. Stuff We Can’t Afford | There’s a camp for everything. Literally everything. But they are expensive. If that’s part of your summer plan, ask your kids to contribute in some way–let them buy their camp t-shirt or take spending money they’ve earned from odd jobs. They might just appreciate your sacrifice more if they make one, too.
8. For Summer to Be All About Them | I love summer with my kids. I can’t wait to sleep in and tackle a bucket list. But we can’t make it all about them. Some of our favorite memories involve giving summer away– finding ways to serve. And those moments that are so boring often turn into the best memories.
It’s going to be a great summer! I can’t wait.