Every year, parents rush to prepare breakfast and pack lunch, hustle their kids out the door, race to school, and hurry from work to after-school activities, play-dates and classes. Summer presents a golden opportunity to slow down, and what do most of us do? More of the same! This summer, give your kids a wonderful gift: an old-fashioned summer.

When you’re tempted to sign your kids up for another extracurricular activity, stop yourself; is it something they’ll really love, or just another “to do?” Many busy parents dread hearing “I’m bored,” but boredom often precedes a burst of creativity. Kids whose days are fully booked don’t have to develop self-reliance or learn to entertain themselves.

Years ago, summer camp was a luxury for the few and summer classes meant the occasional tennis lesson. With more families reliant upon two incomes and college admissions increasingly competitive, long summer days lazing in the backyard have become the luxury. You may not be able to supervise an entire summer of freedom, but do take as much time as you can to:

  • Catch fireflies.
  • Spend an entire day lolling by the pool while the kids play “Marco Polo”.
  • Cut huge wedges of ice-cold watermelon and spit the seeds as far as they’ll go.
  • Build sand castles on the beach.
  • Seek out an old-fashioned general store and give your kids a dollar each for penny candy.
  • Spend a hot afternoon lounging on the porch reading comic books and drinking lemonade.
  • Have a camp-out in the backyard; roast hot dogs over the fire, bake potatoes wrapped in tin foil in the ashes, and make s’mores. Finish with the scariest ghost stories you know.
  • Invite the neighborhood kids over for a water balloon fight and a game of kickball.
  • Take everyone to the nearest boardwalk or carnival.
  • Find a pro or little league baseball game, pack a picnic, and stand for the National Anthem.
  • Run through the sprinkler.
  • Make homemade ice cream or popsicles.
  • Turn your air-conditioning off. Lie around reading with fans blowing and open windows.
  • When a thunderstorm hits, take refuge inside. Play board games by candlelight, stage a puppet show, and tell stories. 

So toss that calendar in the trash-- at least until September. None of the above will round out your child’s resume, but you’ll savor the memories long after summer ends.