I often head into summer in full-blown problem-solving mode for my children. I struggle to balance camps and summer fun with all the things my kids “should” be doing: a summer reading program, writing practice, and various therapies. It’s exhausting and makes summers far from relaxing.
This year, my 13-year-old son caught on to this pattern and asked, “Why can’t we just chill out and just be?” At first that thought brought on a sense of stress. I was worried that the days would be filled with unproductive down time or too many screens. Past summers were productive and the work that we did was important. But, so is down time and connecting. I decided to take his words to heart by approaching this summer with less problem solving and more just being. I’m trying to do more connecting with my kids and less nagging, scheduling, and insisting. It’s an attitude I’ve also heard from my yoga teacher, who recently made this radical suggestion: “What if there was nothing to solve here?”
I find that it’s a struggle to do less and not worry about how to control the future, but it also has its rewards. My older son is taking a bit more initiative with his own schedule and household chores and we’re having fun playing board games and water balloon baseball and enjoying weekend getaways with our new puppy. I’ve temporarily relaxed the rules around screen time and let him have his fill of tennis and baseball.
It’s hard to let go of the “shoulds” and to accept that some things won’t happen as I’d planned or hoped. In fact, some things aren’t happening at all. I’m trying to trust that everything will still be ok, even if he’s not building academic skills or catching up on schoolwork. At least at the end of the summer, I won’t say “we should have had more down time.”