Looking back on the summers of the 1980s and 90s summers we are often wistful about leaving home in the morning and spending the day on our bikes with friends, only heading home once or twice for some food.
However, today it is unlikely that our own children will be experiencing the same free summers that we remember, but that’s OK we can still recreate the ‘summer lasts forever feeling’ while maintaining the structure that allows for a sense of security at home.
Keeping routines means that they can adjust more easily when it is time to return to school in the fall, but by slowing things down you can give them that lazy summer vibe that you experienced back in the day.
During the school year, everything is regimented and has to be done by a deadline. Every morning is a race to get out of the door with everything they need, whether that is a packed lunch or something for show and tell.
When they arrive home it is all about homework, soccer meets, clubs, baths or showers and back to bed for a good night’s sleep before it all starts again the next day.
Even the weekends can be rushed as you try to get ready for the week to come. It seems like the blink of an eye between the first and last day of the year and then all of a sudden there you are – the summer vacation has started.
Things to do
There are a few easy ways you can slow things down for the summer and make the most of having some lazy free time with your kids.
- Spend less time cooking – make casual picnics the order of the day, and throw in some popsicles too.
- Don’t worry about perfection in the kitchen – get the kids to help out and spend some quality time together.
- Spend some time making music just for fun instead of practicing for music grades.
- Step away from the TV – turn off Netflix and watch the natural world instead.
- Stop asking people to hurry up, instead encourage them to take their time.
- Don’t worry too much about looking spic and span, stick a hat on top of your hair and wash it tomorrow. Use the time for enjoying life.
Don’t worry about being late
You can take as much time as you need to get ready and go out. There is no school bell to beat, no school bus to catch on time and no need to rush your kids so let them tell you that long story while they put on their shoes, even though it takes so much more time. Just enjoy the moment without having to be somewhere else.
If you are on a journey take your time. Or just cancel the journey, stay home and find some fun things to do, even if it is just playing about in the sprinkler.
Don’t add more planned activities
Avoid adding new activities to replace the spring sports or after-school clubs. No need to add a bunch of new stuff you have to rush around to get to. You might want to consider dialing back on the regular stuff too if it gets too much.
It might feel a bit weird at first because you have nothing to keep track of but you will soon appreciate the lazy, open feel of having the whole evening to yourselves.
It will soon become the best memory of the summer – instead of rushing around you get to play in the back garden, grab a badminton racket or gently catch some fireflies.
Remember to plan memories, not activities – simple things like picnics, pool dates and fun with friends is what makes a great memory out of an ordinary summer. Regular activities can happen the rest of the year.
Reinstate a leisurely family dinner
During the school year family dinners can get rushed; having to squeeze in a meal in order to get a child to their team practice or Scouts meeting takes priority. In the summer you can slow down a little and move away from the speedy pizza meals and perhaps try out some new recipes.
Get the kids to lend a hand now that you have the extra time. Afterwards, you can all eat together, enjoy each others company and talk about your day knowing you don’t have to rush off and be somewhere else.