I received a phone call a few weeks ago from my brother in Florida proposing possible dates for their annual summer visit in July. Then I saw a book in the library called, “The Overscheduled Child.” What those two events have to do with each other is that they made me realize that, though it’s only April, it’s not too early to warn you against “Summertime Overscheduling Syndrome” (SOS)! I just made that up, but I think it aptly describes the state of many families. Why is it we think summer is so long, and we are superwoman? From the vantage point of March or April, we can look off into the setting sun of winter, completely past spring, to summertime, and just like that have our whole summer blocked out, booked and blueprinted with activities, events, vacations and visitors long before the last day of school arrives.
In “the old days” when I was little, summer did seem to last forever. It was unplanned, free and easy for a child. Especially because I grew up in the city. Life on the farm, in my husband’s growing-up years, was anything but “free and easy”–there was work to do!! However, he and his siblings still manage to have memories of running through the fields, finding wild berries, and other idyllic pasttimes which you only read about in story books nowadays.
Times Have Changed
- For working moms, no longer are large families common: older children aren’t available to watch their younger siblings; teenage girls have summer jobs, or are too irresponsible to babysit neighbor children.
- The Daycare Mentality: Kids in daycare don’t want to miss out on the “special” activities or seeing their friends, and parents don’t want their kids around–so, even when they do have time off, or vacation from work, they still drop them off at daycare.
- Homeschoolers have bought into “Busy is Better.”
- “Outside opportunities” to learn abound. Homeschooling parents want their children to have “every opportunity” and the pressure to succeed is great.
- Coupled with believing that “busy is better,” is the insecurity of homeschooling parents: We now have an answer to give, and one that will impress, when grandparents and other inquisitive inquirers want to know what the kids are going to do all summer.
So, what’s wrong with that? They need to use their time wisely. They will be learning good things. Yes, sometimes that’s true, and a little structure during the summertime is a good thing. But, children need unstructured time, time to dream, time without a plan, time to learn to be creative, time in which they learn to make decisions, time in which they learn to make choices and live with consequences. Children need time to relax. Read. Be outdoors and interact with nature. To learn through their senses. To have quiet. To be with those of different generations. To learn responsibility in the home.
Summertime can be a time for:
- Fun family togetherness.
- Slow walks.
- Catching a frog.
- Reading a book.
- Being unplugged.
- Being unstructured.
- Being with the Creator and what He’s created.
- Slowing down…
Resist the impulse to plan your family’s summer away. Resist “programs” and let God open your eyes to people and needs around you that don’t fit a schedule.
Learn to say “No.”
Pray about what God wants you to be doing. Listen to Him daily. Resist the temptation to ask your friends what they are doing and sign your kids up to do the same.
Ask your husband what dreams he has for the summer.
Give yourself permission to……breathe……stay home……bloom where you’re planted.
I guarantee God’s summer plans for you won’t be the same as anybody else’s. Be ok with “I don’t know” and “we’re waiting to see what God’s going to bring along.” Won’t it be incredible to experience what He’s got in store for you?