Three Goals for a Simpler Summer

Plenty of time for playing soccer in the yard


School ended on Friday, and we are now officially on summer vacation, as my 4-year-old keeps excitedly reminding us. We celebrated with a family trip to the drive-in to see How To Train Your Dragon 2.


Plenty of time for playing soccer in the yard

Summer needs to have lots of time for throwing and kicking balls.

And now here we are with a beautiful summer stretching out before us. Aahhhh….No school lunches to pack or baseball and soccer uniforms to wash. (For two years in a row, my son has landed on a baseball team with white uniform pants. This year, I may have to place a discreet call to the Little League. Please, gray, navy, green—ANYTHING but white.)


You know what I’ve noticed, though? As much as I love the idea of the freedom of summer, I tend to get a little frightened by all that blank space in the calendar. And then I fill it all up with camps and travel so that before I know it, summer looks a whole lot like the school year. Places to do, people to see. Brush your teeth, put your shoes on, we’re going to be late!


This year I’m going to try to be more intentional about keeping it simple. Here are my goals.

1)      Resisting the urge to plan every single second of the summer.

No camps morning, noon, and night. Not a “no camps” policy—the kids are in VBS with their cousins as I write this—but a “few camps” policy. At least one week off for every week of camp. This will require resisting the urge to enrich them in every single way this summer, so they can keep up with soccer and baseball and Spanish and calculus. They don’t need to be stuffed full of knowledge and skills like Thanksgiving turkeys. I think what they need most is some time to do not much of anything.

Part of me always wants to have something going in the morning so that we get up and get moving out the door, but it’s just not fair to them to have to get up and rush somewhere every blessed day of their lives, particularly their childhood lives. I want to teach my children the joy of slowing down and not having anything particular to do. (I could use some reminders of this as well.) Of discovering the secrets of the yard or building the best-ever fort out of the long-suffering couch cushions. Of a day where we have absolutely nowhere to go.


We'll need to allow plenty of time for making yard soup.

We’ll need to allow plenty of time for making yard soup.

2)      Making some family memories, with the kids’ input.

Because eventually we’ll get a little tired of the yard and the couch forts, I want to plan a few special family outings that we can look forward to, and not just the ones that I think are fun, but some things that the kids choose.


One for us is hopping the train and riding up to LA or to the petting zoo midway between San Diego and LA. My younger son especially is crazy about trains and riding on a train is such a great example of how life is often more about the journey than the destination. There’s something about viewing the world from a train window that helps me to slow down and appreciate.


I have a tendency to WANT to do things like this and then never really get around to a lot of them, so this time I’m going to write out our list and post it on our fridge so that the kids can help remind me and motivate me to do them. My sister had the great idea of combining her summer fun and chore list. When the kids point to something they want to do, she points to the corresponding chore chart and how many of the chores they need to get done before they can have the fun. She is kind of a mom genius.


3)      Leave the space for saying yes.

Most of all, I want to leave time free to just enjoy whatever might come up. That’s one of the best things about summer. Just having the space to say yes to my kids. Yes, we can drive to the fair. Or go to the beach. Or sleep out in the yard. Or whatever. Because so often I have to say no. No, we have school, or I have a deadline, or we have a doctor’s appointment or I am just too tired to figure that out right now. I hate saying no. My hope is that resisting the over-scheduling will allow some room for more yesses.



I’ll check in later in the summer about how well I’m doing at meeting these goals. How about you? What are your summer goals?

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