I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t spend much time planning our summers so that we would create the best possible memories. I do have fond memories of my summers as a kid, a lot of them thanks to my parents, but I don’t think they sat around making lists of all the fantastic things we’d do together.

Summers were slow. They were filled with endless days of boring, that added up to endless days of fun. I read innumerable books, and I rode my bike to the store to buy candy and Slush Puppies. I rode my bike to the park. I rode my bike everywhere. On the weekend we’d throw our bikes into the boat and go to the lake, biking around the park, riding the tube behind the boat, and going fishing. There was always an ice cream cone from the beach shack before we went home. I also have memories of picking wild Saskatoon berries with my mom and grandparents – I hated it at the time, but now I am trying to figure out how I can replicate that awesome (awful) experience for my kids.

My summers were unremarkable, but that’s what made them fantastic. We enjoyed what we did, and we didn’t worry about what we weren’t doing. I bring all this up because these days, summer parenting feels like something completely different than what I grew up with. (This shouldn’t surprise me, since everything about parenting these days feels different.)

I see so many blog posts about how to create an awesome summer for your kids, how to be intentional about summer vacation, how to squeeze every last drop out of summer, and while we’re at it, why don’t we just pile on another ton of bricks to the mommy guilt load we all carry over how we are just not measuring up to the gold standard of what we should be doing.

Here’s my advice:
Make a list – if you want to.
Do everything on it – if you want to.
Make a list and burn it – if you want to.
Then have fun with your kids. Enjoy what you do with them. Enjoy them.

If you make a list of all the things you think you should do in order to be a good mom, and you manage to do every last thing but you’ve squeezed the joy out of summer along with it, the list is not your friend. Let go of whatever peer pressure tells you is going to make you win this mommy game, and just love your kids. Parenting isn’t a game, and your kids already think you’re awesome. They want you to show up and have fun, because they’re not reading all the blog lists of endless summer fun, they just want to go for a bike ride and eat a picnic.

I also feel compelled to point out that your kids are capable of having fun without you orchestrating it. Send them outside by themselves. Let them have some time without you hovering over them and making sure they do everything the way you like it. What have we become? This craze of helicopter parenting has to stop.

2 Responses to “All-star Summer Parenting”

  1. I love this Kim! I made a list of ideas of things to do in the summer (because I love lists), but the goal isn’t necessarily to check them all off, but to have ideas if we feel like doing something different.

    Our summer is going to pretty much be a whole lot of nothing and I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

  2. kim:

    I love lists too! I actually do have a summer list as well, and when I was contemplating how I was going to get it all done I realized it’s okay if I don’t! They’re nice ideas and they’ll be there next year too. I realized I was overthinking things when I asked the kids what they wanted to put on the list and they just said, “Go to different playgrounds, ride our bikes, and go for a picnic.” I think I can manage that!

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