Are you in the middle of planning your big summer vacation or are you staying home this year?
While we’ve never done big summer vacations, summers have often been a fun time for us. But this year, our family is in the middle of a move. My husband has started a new job in a different state and I’m trying to sell the house we’ve owned for the past 10 years. It’s a difficult time and it’s easy to feel like my kids are missing out. But you know what? They’re not.
As one of her last assignments for the school year, my daughter had to make a chart of her favorite summer activities. (Find out more about our homeschool curriculum here). She then had to divide them into outdoor and indoor activities. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was essentially her very own bucket list for the summer.
Did she want to go to a water park? Disney World? Camp or other expensive activities?
Take a look for yourself.
Eating ice cream. Picking blueberries. Swimming at our pastor’s house. Playing in the sprinkler. Attending Vacation Bible School with her aunt, who usually teaches a class. Reading books. Pretending to be Rapunzel on our second-hand wooden playset in the back yard.
While my husband and I love to keep things pretty low-key with our kids (we opt for family birthday parties most years), I really don’t think it’s that unusual for kids to have such low standards for their summers. I think other children enjoy simple summers too. I recall having season passes to a local water park when I was kid, but do you know what my favorite summer memories were?
Staying at my grandparents for a week, playing Queen for the Day.
Summer reading. My mom would take my sisters and I to the book store where we would blow every single dollar of our babysitting money on books–glorious books. And we would read each book in less than 24 hours. I have so many memories of holding a flashlight under the blanket while I read a book at midnight. Yes, I was a night owl even back then.
The big stuff of summer was big. And it was fun. But the small stuff? The mundane? That’s what makes summers so sweet.
As a mom, I crave it more now than ever before, but my kids? My little ones? They love activity and busy lives, but they need white space. Kids need boredom to turn on their creativity.
They need free time to build pillow forts and sit by mommy reading poem after poem from a library book. Some mornings, we can easily waste 20 minutes watching Youtube videos of volcanoes or symphonies or something else that my daughter has asked about.
My kids need free time to run around in the backyard, or sit in the grass, examining doodle bugs and being fascinated with cicada shells. Without free time–precious free time–these moments cannot happen. And with kids, even the small things are an adventure. So it’s my intention to milk the small things.
We’re blowing $4 on lemons so that my kids can make fresh squeezed lemonade. We’re going to story hour at the library and keeping book logs to see how many cool books we can read this summer. We’re picking blueberries, making blueberry cobbler together, and then reading Blueberries for Sal. It’s all about the time spent together, not the expensive vacations.
This is the freest summer we’ve ever had and we are loving it. Maybe you’re bummed that you can’t take your kids on an awesome vacation this year because of budget constraints. Maybe your stage of life won’t allow it. Or perhaps you’re consciously choosing simple over hectic. Regardless, enjoy it. See it as beautiful. I have no doubt that your kids will.
What simple things do your children enjoy in the summer?