I keep seeing all these parenting articles talking about what summer should be, and there seem to be two distinct camps.
Camp A: Make Summer Magical – complete with bucket list, plans, jars with popsicle sticks covered with activity ideas, etc.
Camp B: pretend we live in the 1970’s, plan nothing, commune with nature, smell the air, and bond with the beautiful oneness of childhood.
You guys. I cannot possibly be the only parent out there reading this stuff and thinking: Ok, very nice, but where are all the normal parents?!? You know, the ones that have all these amazing summer ideas that last about 3 days and then are totally forgotten. Or the parents who are all about the magical one day, and then the next day are more like: GO AWAY FROM ME YOU RABID BEAST THAT I GREW IN MY BODY AND NOW TORMENTS MY SOUL!?! Ok, that’s a little extreme, but you get the idea.
Truthfully, some days I’m in Camp A, and some days I’m hanging in Camp B.
Some days, I’m all about the structured play, the themed party, and the planned social time.
Other days, it’s time for “entertain yourself,” go-with-the-flow and see what happens.
Because – balance. And real life. And human nature that thrives on both freedom and routine, where too much of one or the other becomes a burden, not a gift.
We will have a summer routine chart, we will have a few weeks of camp, I will create themed activities and special treats for them because I love to do it. We’ve started a family bucket list, and a travel savings jar for our mini summer vacation.
We will also have days of white space on our calendar. Days for snuggling up to watch too many movies together. Days we play in the sunshine, drive to the beach, get ice cream for dinner, play freely in the streets with friends.
The point is, your kids and mine, they don’t need a script of carefully constructed “magic” to make their summer wonderful, color-coded bucket lists, or surprise outings every day.
They don’t need a mother so caught up in what summer should be that she forgets to appreciate what it is.
Our kids need a mother who can feel the joy of summer, who remembers that joy is found in many ways and many places, some of them exciting and noisy, some of them quiet and still.
They need a mother who will let them have time to be bored – and then will sometimes surprise them with an outing when they least expect it. They need to feel in their hearts, long before they can speak it in words, that some of the most beautiful memories they create will be ones that happen in a moment, not created, but felt with the heart.
This year, I’m just letting summer happen.
Maybe it will be magical.
Maybe it will be ordinary.
Or maybe, just like most of life, it will be a little bit of both.