Fayetteville, N.C. — If you’re like me, you’re now looking at the calendar, wondering how you ended up in July.
Weren’t we just filling Easter baskets and buying Teacher Appreciation gifts? When my mind finally catches up with the passing of time, I have to wonder how we are already several weeks into the summer, and what exactly do I have to show for it?
I do this every year, and you’d think by now I’d get the hang of it. How to best fill the weeks of summer with kids? In my experience, there is no magic formula.
I’ve had summers in which I over-planned camps and activities, only to have my kids burned out and me fed up. I’ve had summer breaks in which I’ve taken the laid back approach, only to be met with too many “I’m bored!”s and far too much time spent in front of a computer or TV.
Of course, the idea is to achieve balance, but you try to match the interests of two different kids with what’s available during which week, and oh, by the way, mom works full-time???? It’s enough to make you want to run and hide until the school buses start rolling again.
One thing I have finally learned is this, and it seems to help: lower my expectations.
A knock-out summer filled with the most exciting adventures ever is not a realistic goal. Finding some camps and activities that appeal to my kids’ interests without interfering too much with my job is doable. Tying to fill every second of their summer with fun things to do is both out-of-reach and misguided on my part.
It’s OK to be bored. It’s OK to learn to be responsible for your own entertainment and fulfillment. And, more often than not, I find my kids will use free time to do creative projects on their own that they don’t have time for when their schedules are too packed. Nothing at all wrong with that.
It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty OK. And, at the end of the day, I believe that’s what a summer should be.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.