Summer vacation: the big picture

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I really love summer, but I also happen to work part-time and have older kids, neither of whom are big on sports, camps or planned activities. So it's pretty easy for me to feel relaxed about it. That said, I've consciously cultivated that attitude in opposition to the general trend all around us to plan everything up.

By now, my minimalist parenting leanings are no surprise. But I wanted to share two links I hope will help you think differently about summer, especially if you're feeling panicked about the months ahead.

I wrote "The relaxed parent's guide to summer vacation" for The Week in an effort to hit the big points.

To many parents, the prospect of bored kids and an XBox beckoning from the basement is enough to make a summer full of planned activities seem like the most attractive option.

But I would argue that summertime doesn't have to be either-or. There's a sweet spot between "planned" and "free-range." Sure, it looks different for each family based on childcare needs, budgets, ages and number of kids, and interests. But it's there. Here's how to find yours. [Continue reading at The Week] →

A few days after that post went up, I ran into Mir's summer manifesto for big kids over at Alpha Mom. Her writing is always superb, and she brings context to her list with a loving reminder that the kids are growing up.

Call me a sap if you must (you wouldn’t be the first one), but once both my kids hit the teens, it really sank in that yes, they do grow up and aren’t going to be here with me forever. Their childhoods are going to be over in a few short years. This fills me with a mixture of panic over all I still want to instill in them before they’re no longer under my roof and wistfulness for simpler times, when teenagers weren’t expected to spend their summers doing things that will look amazing on their college applications. [Continue reading at Alpha Mom] →

How are you feeling as summer gets underway? Hopes? Worries? Wondering what all the fretting's about? Let's talk about it in the comments.


  1. Sara says

    I’m a bit nervous about the Summer, to be honest. My 4-year-old was in afternoon preschool this year and is used to busy fun afternoons. I’m used to using those afternoons to get stuff done while my 2-year-old naps. So I’m trying to balance his need for lots of stimulation with my need to get things done (I’m just getting a new career off the ground, and needing time to study for certification exams, and getting started teaching some classes and training clients, and still need to make sure I keep up with the house and the seemingly never ending schedule of summer birthday parties). I’ve decided to say somewhat structured, but not scheduled, if that makes sense. And try to make sure that every day we get some concentrated play/reading time, but also make sure he has self directed activities to keep him busy while I do what I need to do. Today was day one, and was ok. We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes!

  2. Asha Dornfest says

    Sara: “Structured not scheduled” is where I’ve landed, too. It’s so funny that some kids, right from the get-go, like lots of activity and others are ready to relax and go with the flow.

    One idea that might help during the afternoons: a local neighborhood “mother’s helper.” A kid who may be too young to babysit, but is the right age to entertain and keep a preschooler busy. Sort of a “babysitter-in-training.”