I have a summer mantra this year. It’s a little bit like this You do you and I’ll do me. It’s definitely not new. It’s mine, and I don’t really care to hear anyone else’s opinion about how I do summer. YOU DO YOU. See, I wish I actually didn’t need to say this out loud. But get your hands off my summer. You do you. My summer mantra.
YOU do your summer and I’ll do mine.
This past two weeks since school ended, I’ve heard a zillion experts and read dozens of posts about people taking back their summer. Usually that involves terms like let your children discover the great outdoors and Wildlings and getting back to nature, unscheduling, and (sigh) over scheduling children. ETCETERA. ETCETERA. Kumbaya, Mr or Mrs. Judge-y pants.
Like it’s a new concept, nature. Wish that this didn’t have to be stated, but it does somehow – my summer is not your summer. My family is different than yours. These kids, the ones I love, who share my days, my home and my heart, are very much NOT your kids. SO, stop telling us how to do summer. Okay, stop.
There was a time not so long ago when I would have been conflicted reading so many posts and stories about getting back to nature. Loving the outdoors and unscheduling your kids all summer long. Don’t get me wrong we LOVE the outdoors and we swim all season long outdoors. When my kids were small I would have read all those things and felt like complete crap as a parent. Why did my kids not behave the way others did? Why did they not race outdoors the moment the school bell rang at quitting time on June 29th and lay in the grass exploring for hours, with me nearby relaxing or working. WHY? What was wrong with them? What was wrong with us as parents? HOW awful was I at this, if my kids couldn’t be wildlings?
WELL, I’m here to say there was actually nothing wrong with us. Nothing wrong with my kids, my husband or myself. Other than the fact that we were stressed out 24/7 and our lives were full on exhausting treadmills of work, advocacy, school advocacy, and doctor’s and specialist’s appointments.
BUT oh for the love of all that is holy I was supposed to be unschooling my kids and letting them roam free and learn how to take the bus on their own, letting them explore the neighbourhood. NO CAMP for you. Too many scheduled activities makes for a bad parent and a terrible poorly behaved child. EXCEPT, when that’s complete Bullshit.
What? You can’t swear on a blog. Bad blogger Mommy. Here’s the deal. When you prescribe how every child should be behaving and experiencing summer you inevitably will make the person who is struggling feel worse than they already do. Truthfully many parents struggle. So stop.
My kids run wild at the beach, and in the pool and yard, occasionally. Once in awhile they are hermits, when they need to be. And they are also scheduled all summer long.
I tried it a couple of times you know. Oh how I tried to bend my creative, unique little souls into widgets that would love freedom and independence and explore without schedules all summer long. AND it was a big fat error. 404. REDIRECT.
Impulsive kids and children, youth and even teens with unique needs are not one size fits all. If I let one be a full on wilding all day and night well guess what, she loses her mind and spirals into a massive anxious out of control mess. Ainsley, my youngest would tell you herself that unscheduling is not her cup of tea. Tonight she begged me to add two more weeks of full day camp to her schedule. That would make 6 weeks of camp with only two weeks off.
BOY OH BOY HOW I WISH I could unschedule it all. There’s little I would enjoy more. At least until someone drew all over the walls, or kicked a door in, or hurt herself tap dancing on the stove.
So you do your summer and I’ll do mine. Remember my summer mantra. You can steal it if you need to. I’m cool with that because I know many parents just like me. Ones who struggled to make them fit a laissez faire summer and then beat themselves up emotionally for months, maybe years, wondering why it didn’t work. How come everyone else’s kid can do this?
If unscheduling works for you I am thrilled and truthfully a bit jealous. Dreaming of saving all that money just doing crafts in the yard and riding bicycles down the street makes me green. Camp costs money, scheduling 10 activities that keep children busy because they only function if structure is imposed on their day is mind boggling. Talk about your summer. But please don’t claim to be an expert on all children. Because you aren’t.
SUMMER isn’t one size fits all and neither are kids
Here’s hoping everyone does what they need to this summer, what is best for their family. Blessings and love and hope for a beautiful summer of fun and family and travel too. Unschedule. Schedule. Nap. Stay up Late, Breathe, Enjoy, Argue, Watch TV, or UNPLUG, Work or Don’t work.
My summer mantra: You do your summer and I’ll do mine.
Meanwhile my kids will be working, or babysitting, or traveling with me, or in camp all summer long. Scheduled, and happy.