Give Yourself a Break and Your Child the Gift of an Awesome Summerby Kuhrich on Thursday, June 19, 2014
Let’s face it: we’ve become a bit too overprotective of our children in recent years. Children today spend much of their time being monitored by their parents, with every single moment of their “free time” structured, and planned out well ahead of time, all with a goal in mind, whether it is the child’s education or some other element of their development. The simple fact of the matter is that while this benefits children in a number of ways, allowing kids to have more unstructured time – time in which they can set their own agenda and make their own “play,” which is ultimately how children learn best – is good for them!
This is good news to any parent who is looking to summer and wondering how they are going to carve out some time for themselves. While schoolchildren look forward to summer as a time to take a break from the obligations and humdrum of school, parents must look to it as a time of obligation, as their children become their responsibility 24/7 yet again. This may sound terrible, but the truth is that as a species we have often looked to the “village,” our community, to help us rear our young; the idea that only the parents are responsible for their children is a rather new idea, in fact.
Fortunately, the village – our community – has come up with a number of ways to occupy and engage children while you enjoy some free time this summer. With your kids away and enjoying new experiences, you can attend to fixing up your home, gardening, or taking a well-earned vacation of your own. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3:
- Summer Camp
Though it is much-maligned in film and television, summer camp – a well-run, interesting summer camp with more to offer than bunks and the same old experiences day-in and day-out – can truly be a transformative, enjoyable, maturing experience for children. Time away from family, time wherein one must be part of a team, learn, explore and grow together, and ultimately become part of community, is great for kids! Meanwhile, you get several weeks or even months where your children are away.
- The Museum
Museums aren’t boring anymore. Yes, some museums are all about modern art and million-dollar paintings hanging on the wall, but many more community museums actually have programs where kids can go during the day, learn about new and exciting ideas, and have fun doing it. Think of it as daycare meets school meets a playgroup.
- The Pool, the Park, and Beyond
Finally, don’t be afraid to let your children really enjoy sports, water, and the natural world. Letting your children have free, unstructured time with friends can be the greatest gift you give them. Yes, they could spend the whole summer practicing piano, but they’ll just be frustrated, bored, and way too energetic when the school year starts. Give them the gift of freedom!