There’s one thing I dislike about summer even more than mosquitoes: the lack of scheduled activities for my children.
Some of you probably have one eyebrow raised. You view these months as a welcome reprieve from the morning scramble to the bus, the hustle from school to sports to dinner to bed, and endless band concerts, recitals, and football games.
The rest of you are wondering why I don’t just fill in these hours with time-delineated chores, swimming lessons, a summer class, more chores. Don’t get me wrong, they do some of those things. It’s the rest of the time I’m struggling with. Some part of my maternal being feels the need to micro-manage these all too brief moments of summer for them.
It was easier when they were small. When they were easily distracted with a handful of straws, a bottle of glue, and a pile of colored construction paper. When whole afternoons could be wiled away with a bottle of bubble solution, or a $6 plastic wading pool and a sprinkler. These days a momma’s cure for summer boredom is as close as the Internet, where bazillions of websites offer creative ideas for entertaining little ones.
But what about the bigger kids? The preteens and teens who don’t have jobs yet (or can’t find one in this economy), who don’t drive, and who declare the park, the rec center, and the library duller than death. Beyond pulling out my Cap’n VonTrapp whistle and playing chore drill sergeant, what else can I suggest for them to do? Or should I simply leave them alone and let them amuse themselves? Do I become Sergeant Mom and steal the cords from the electronics? (The thought has occurred to me.)
I hate unproductive hours. Time spent doing nothing, accomplishing nothing, producing nothing, makes me edgy, skittish, and frustrated. But my husband says that’s the whole purpose of having a summer vacation, and I shouldn’t concern myself with how they choose to waste their time, as long as it’s not a sin or harmful to their health. But I feel so GUILTY as a parent watching them do nothing!
So, parents and grandparents out there… how do you handle the wealth of free time in the summer months?
Do you keep the same bedtime and morning schedules in the summer, or do you let your kids stay up late and sleep in?