Thursday, 7 July 2016

The One 'Must-do' Summer Activity for 2016

School's out for summer! If you're anything like me, those words fill you with one part 'Sa-weet!' and three parts 'OMG! What am going to do with them for all that time?' Well, I'm sure you've already come across your fair share of lists of must-do summer activities, you've enrolled your kids in swimming lessons, and concocted grand plans for day trips and week-long holidays at the lake. You're mentally compiling a list of craft ideas and outdoor activities for play-dates with friends and you've spent a small fortune on gadgets, water guns, and slip and slides, all to ensure that neither their boundless energy nor a day of the precious summer season is wasted. But, you're forgetting something... In fact, you're forgetting the best thing about the season--something we just don't get enough of the rest of year--an activity that is both timeless and revolutionary at the same. And that is this...


Sweet nothing.

If you're anything like me, the thought of doing or planning nothing makes you uneasy. It conjures up visions of your household positively erupting in mess with bored kids fighting and screaming while you pull your hair out until such a time that you become adequately defeated enough to enlist the services of Captain TV and Nanny Smartphone to rescue you from imminent disaster. Now, I'm not guaranteeing that won't happen, but I will guarantee that it wouldn't be the end of the world. I guess I'm just suggesting that kids, like us, need a little more of, well, nothing—time and space to be creative, relax, and to just let things happen (or not happen).

Occasionally the shift that occurs from one generation and the next is quite surprising to me, and this is one of those times.  Do you know what my mom planned for me every summer? Nothing.
Do you remember what your Auntie Martha used to do when you came over to play with your cousins? Well, if she was like mine, she watched All My Children and brought out some orange Kool-Aid around 3 o'clock. Your grandma? Mine made me pull weeds and pick raspberries and paid us in lemon drops and rosebuds. From memory, NO ONE in my neighborhood really planned anything for their kids, and, do you know what? IT WAS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR!

In my neighborhood, we used to get up to all sorts of things...tree houses, swimming (no one drowned in my memory), we played in the sprinklers, we let our imaginations run wild, we camped in tents made out of nets and blankets, we collected sticks and rocks and bugs and bottle caps, we got dirty, we ran in the rain, we jumped, we climbed, we ran, we hid, we had so much fun we forgot to hydrate or put on sunscreen. We even found other kids to play with and we adventured in pastures and groves of trees, we kicked balls and played 500 (does anyone else call it that?), we learned to catch and shoot hoops without drills or instruction, and unless our parents commandeered us into some house or yard work, WE JUST PLAYED, and I'll say it again, it was the BEST!

When my mind runs away with thoughts like these, of childhood summers that were easy and carefree, I worry that I just might be doing a disservice to my kids with all of this planning and structure. My guess is that there might be a hiccup or two and maybe an adjustment period while we learn to slow down, but my pledge this summer for my family is to do a little less of something and a LOT more nothing! Join me if you dare!

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