We Plan To Have A Boring Summer
and I Can't Wait!
Remember when you were a kid and you looked really forward to summer? You couldn’t wait for the bell to ring on that last day of school so you could run out those doors and spend two whole months doing whatever the heck you felt like. The world was your oyster! No commitments, no homework, just hanging with your friends and doing whatever you were in the mood to do. Sometimes that meant doing absolutely nothing. Sometimes... it even meant being bored.
As adults, most of us would do just about anything to have one day of boredom to look forward to. The work doesn’t end just because it’s summer. In fact, depending on your circumstance, it could be an even busier time for you. These days, with both parents working, or single parents having to do it all on their own, and fewer people having family close by who are willing or able to help out with kids, it can be downright chaotic. Summer camps need booking well in advance to ensure you get a spot, not to mention the added cost of putting your kids in these programs or finding and paying for child care, if your kids aren’t old enough to be home alone.
Even when families do have holidays, there is so much emphasis on having to do something special with that precious ‘quality time’. All the planning, expense, packing, travelling, sight seeing, visiting, etc. can be super stressful. We can end up feeling like we need a holiday to recover from our holiday!
Then there’s the fact that summer is short. Where I live, the summer weather only lasts about three months or so, and kids are out of school for about 8 or 9 weeks. That’s not much time to pack it all in, and for those who work full time during the week, those summer weekends become even more precious. Throw weddings, reunions, birthday parties, out of town visits and whatever else you have going on in your life into the mix, and summer can start to feel like a total grind... The opposite of how it's supposed to feel! It can flash before your eyes in a blur and leave you wondering, ‘What happened to the relaxation? What happened to the lazy days of summer? What happened to not having to stick to a schedule? What happened to the chance to be bored for a change?’
Personally, our own family has been there, done that. In fact, the last several summers have been jam packed with commitments. While some of this has been welcome and even enjoyable, it’s left us feeling like we haven’t had an actual ‘holiday’ in ages. You know, the kind where you just do whatever the hell you want when the mood strikes you. No plans, no ‘have to’, no endless preparing for events and gatherings on your days off, no making sure your kids are on the day camp bus on time, the list goes on.
So this year, we are intentionally planning to have a boring summer. I can honestly say, I haven’t looked forward to summer this much in ages, maybe even since I was a kid.
Aside from five days at the end of August when our son will be at a leadership camp that's been planned for awhile, we haven’t registered our kids in one damn thing. Not a sport, not a camp, nothing. We are fortunate that I now work from home, so it becomes a little less of an issue to make sure we have our kids taken care of while we work. The flip side of that is…. I now work from home…this means I still have to work when my kids are here. I no longer get vacation pay, or scheduled holidays, so my kids will have to occupy themselves when I have to work.
We’ve said no to a couple of regular commitments that we just can’t wrap our heads around this year. It felt a little guilty at first, but we decided the guilt was something we were just going to have to get over – and we have. We’re going with the flow, rolling with the punches, and just letting summer unfold with no agenda.
When we talked to our kids about this, we expected some resistance and disappointment. But they handled it like rock stars. They totally understood our rationale and I think they are actually looking forward to a mostly laissez-faire summer too.
The truth is, kids are waaaaay over programmed these days anyhow. At least that’s my opinion. We always use the whole, "You have to keep them busy to keep them out of trouble" rationale. Sorry, but I call bullshit. If you want your kids to stay out of trouble, just filling up their time with activities isn’t going to solve that problem in the long run. You have to teach them to be responsible, compassionate, empathetic, conscious people. Not automatons who have every move programmed and can’t make a decision for themselves. You have to teach them what it means to have integrity – doing what’s right especially when nobody is there to watch you! If kids are never given any freedom – I shudder to think what will happen to them when they are on their own. In fact, I’ve witnessed this first hand, and it ain’t pretty.
Why are we so afraid of a little leisure time? Is being bored really so bad? How can it be good when your kid has zero down time and every free minute is filled with rushing to, or engaging in, the next structured activity? We’re raising kids that require being constantly entertained, have no time for letting their imaginations run wild, and even less time to rest their growing bodies and minds. These kids turn into stressed-out, burnt-out adults who perpetuate the glorification of busy.
Many of the world’s greatest thinkers have admitted that they spend hours doing nothing, and that’s exactly when major inspiration strikes. How can that be bad? I'm pretty sure Einstein didn't play little league or go to summer camp. Yes, I think it’s great for kids to have the opportunity to do extra- curricular activities, engage with different people and learn new things. Our own kids do all of that because we have been fortunate enough to be able to afford them those opportunities. But I also think there is a limit. Plus, if I’m being honest, my personal tolerance for busy is decreasing rapidly over time. Also, I stopped caring about keeping up with the Jones' awhile back.
So, this summer, we’re making a conscious choice to get off the hamster wheel, to stop the crazy train, to follow our bliss as much as we are able, and to just do what comes naturally. Maybe it will be overrated, but I suspect it will be just what we need.
If you want to keep up with how things are going, I’ll be sharing updates from ‘our boring summer’ here on my blog, and on social media. If you want to check in, you can follow on Facebook or Instagram. If you want to share pictures and stories of your own boring summer, please do so using the hashtag #ourboringsummer so we can all check them out and love them up.
Cheers to boredom!