But while I understand the challenges a long vacation presents, I also think summer schedules can be awesome for at-home parents…if we just change our perspective a bit. Here are a few reasons why summer schedules can be awesome for parents:
1) Relaxed mornings mean more time for bonding over breakfast.
Let’s face it, our school-year breakfasts are rushed, sloppy things, and with three separate school start times, there’s no real opportunity for us to all eat together on a school-day morning. But we can make up for that June through August with pajama-clad eggs-bacon-toast-and-juice extravaganzas. Or, I can hang around the kitchen and have a leisurely chat with each child as he wanders in for a bowl of cereal.
2) Having kids around all the time helps remind us of our priorities.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that we all need to be Doing Something Productive every minute of the day. But when I occasionally give in to the child who’s twitching with boredom, put aside the computer or housework for a few hours, and head to the pool or park, I’m always glad I did. The slowness and togetherness of summer has a way of reminding me that this time is short, and that deadlines and dishes can usually wait.
3) Flexible schedules allow us to create our own ideal routines.
During the school year I’m pretty much slave to the 6:45 AM wake-up time and the 3:30 rush, when kids start getting home from school. But during the summer I can take better advantage of my body’s natural inclination to stay up (and sleep in) later, work in the mid-afternoon when my brain tends to be firing rapidly rather than spend that time shuffling around school papers, and plan dinner for 7 PM – which is when I really want to eat.
The trick to enjoying, rather than deploring, the long lazy days of summer? Keeping expectations in check. We don’t have to cram every moment of the day with enriching activities for our kids. The best life-long memories most often don’t happen from a plan.
It’s OK to let those bored kids kick dejectedly around the house for hours, figuring out how to entertain themselves, while you get your Adult Stuff done. And it’s also OK for you to kick off work on a Wednesday afternoon and take off for the beach. We only get 18 summers with each child: let’s not wish them away.