Parenting

Why doing nothing this summer is OK

Instead of (over)scheduling her kids, Lisa van de Geyn decides to let the girls relax this summer.

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Addy and Peyton take is easy this summer. Photo: Lisa van de Geyn.

Follow along as Today’s Parent contributor Lisa van de Geyn weighs in on parenting issues and life with her two young daughters. Stay tuned for occasional posts from her husband Peter as he shares parenting stories from his point on view.

According to Facebook and Twitter, I may be one of only two or three moms I know who didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn one morning back in the spring to sign up online for a summer full of lessons and activities to pack the kids’ calendars with. And I’m OK with that.

After the nine months we spent transitioning to our new schedule (a.k.a. junior kindergarten), I felt that Addy needed a break. Even though she informed me that her little friend L was spending the summer in Japan (clearly not an option for us), and her other pal S was taking dance and piano, I decided that there are only two places my girls are required to attend this summer: their grandparents’ house (so I can work) and soccer once a week (they hate to miss their Little Kickers time, and I’ve gotten pretty good at being a soccer mom). We’ve been on some wee day trips, walks, headed to parks, we’ve visited friends and the kids’ baby cousin, and in the coming weeks, we’re planning on taking the tots to the beach for the first time. But that’s it. My kids are truly free to experience the lazy days of summer.

At first, I felt guilty (obviously) about not getting my act together to nail down a range of activities that would enhance their social skills. I got wrapped up in all the goings-on of friends who seemed to be moving heaven and earth to enrol their kids in really cool camps (at the zoo, science centre and local farms) and in fun classes (circus school, pottery, etc.) to keep them preoccupied. Then I worried that the kids would have nothing to do all summer (and we’d be driven bonkers by listening to “I’m bored”), and we’d be missing out on an opportunity to expand their horizons.

Eventually I realized that my four- and two-year-olds are still perfectly happy spending their spare time watching TV and Disney movies at Bubby’s, playing with their same-old toys, and splashing in the blow-up pool and running through the sprinkler in the backyard. They don’t need to be on a schedule at this age. Before I know it, I’ll be begging them to get summer jobs so they’re off my couch and out of the house.

So that’s what we’re doing. A whole whack of nothing.

What’s on your toddler or kindergartener’s social calendar this summer?