This summer was like no other – in the sense that I planned very little and we missed quite a few traditions. We didn’t visit a sunflower field for the first time in years. We didn’t have more than a weekend getaway to the beach. We didn’t plan many play dates.
We kept it as simple as could be for two reasons:
- I’m super pregnant and it’s too hot to be out there.
- We are choosing to spend our money a bit differently and our budget is important to us.
Although someone may think that we had a dull summer, I must say that we probably had our best summer ever. You read that correctly, we had a really good summer. I even learned a few lessons that I’m holding onto as we head back to school. Here are two lessons that I hope help your school year, too.
Less is More
I didn’t plan our days out. Most of the time, I threw out a few ideas on Sunday and added them to our family calendar. We spent most of our days in our neighborhood pool or local library branch. I filled up a few sensory bins and watched my girls play quietly for an hour or two. I filled up their water table and we sat on our front porch waiting for the sun to set low enough to call it a day. Do you know what I didn’t hear at all this summer? “I’m bored.” I think after a busy school year packed with activities and after-school fun, my girls were just ready for a break. They embraced the less is more mantra as much as I did.
This school year, I plan on going back to basics for activities. We won’t do after-school clubs unless someone wants to (I tend to have FOMO and want to throw them into everything) and we’ll limit our other extracurricular activities to just one each. It’ll be easier on our schedule and better on their little bodies after full school days.
Let Kids Have an Opinion – And Listen to Them
More than a few times this summer, my daughters told me “No.” Sometimes it was about cleaning up or turning off the television, but quite a few of those were when I asked if they wanted to do a particular summer activity. I let them give me ideas on how they wanted to spend their days and we worked to find a balance between my working from home and their need to feel in control.
I think that one of my mistakes last school year was seeing an event or activity and automatically enrolling my girls in it. This year I plan on letting them take the lead as they hear of new opportunities or learn about what their friends are doing. I may not always say “yes” but I do want to at least hear them out. I also want to be sure that if they’re telling me something about class or a friend, I fully hear them out. They’re the ones away from me for 4+ hours a day and they have the best view of what’s going on no matter how involved I am with our school. If they have a concern or idea, I want them to know I’m a safe space and I’ll always listen even if it’s uncomfortable.
Summer may be a time to reset and have fun, but it’s also a time when we can still do a bit of learning. As we head into the fall, I can only hope I remember these lessons during one of the busiest times of the year.