After a school year full of alarm clocks, lunch boxes, clubs, and sports, the summer break has become a time I hold close to my heart. But it wasn't always the case.
I used to start researching camps, workshops, and play dates as early as March. This was mostly so my kids could stay "engaged" and have as much fun as possible during the summer. After all, if they were having fun, it meant I was a great parent. (Right?) But it was also partly so I didn't have entertain them every day, too. Let's face it. You can only hear, "I'm bored" so many times before wanting to walk across a pit of LEGOS to dull the pain.
In the name of having the best summer ever, our warm months were consumed with planned activities, crafts, adventures, camps, and more. Each year became a competition to be better than the last all while juggling running my own business from our home. It.was.exhausting.
Until one summer we all wrote in journals. Our boys and I each kept a summer journal for writing and drawing and each week we would share our own highlights. This was my sneaky way of keeping their skills fresh, but I was the one who learned the lesson.
There was one common thread among both of their journals. Connection. Their favorite experiences, memories, activities were not the camps, crafts, and day trips. Instead, they were the times when we played board games as a family. They shared stories about when the power went out, and we had to get creative with fixing food, cleaning up after storms, and telling funny stories. Our sons journaled about being in the quiet of the water together, having picnics, playing tag in the backyard, making new inventions out of old items and recyclables. The cheapest and simplest times were their fondest memories.
It was time to stop competing with prior years. It was time to change the expectation that I had about what the best summer ever included. It was time to start a connection revolution for our family.
So this summer, we are valuing downtime, creativity, and simplicity. Digital-free days, wide open spaces on the calendar, and the feeling of being carefree are ranking at the top of our to-do list. In fact, I've just noticed that our "not-to-do" list is far longer than what we plan to do. In those gaps is where we create connection with ourselves, each other, and nature, and it also becomes our disconnection from the fast pace of the overly scheduled, communicated, and stressed out world.
To connecting with our kids...