I Refuse To Feel Guilty For Our Schedule-Free Summer

I don’t schedule much for my kids to do over the summer. If I am being honest though, sometimes I look around, see how busy everyone else is, and wonder if I am doing my kids a disservice by having lots of free time during the warmer months. But then I realize…

The race during the school year is like the movies, The NeverEnding Story and Groundhog Day, combined. The homework, the parties, the sports, the clubs, the permission slips. There’s plenty of room for error because you are one person trying to keep up with all the errands, appointments, and making sure everyone in your family has what they need.


I make a lot of mistakes. I forget a lot of things, we all do; it’s called life with kids.

In a few days summer vacation will be upon us; I am ready. And by that I mean I am ready to be done with schedules, homework, after school activities, and all the other things that force me to wake up early and drive around town every day running on caffeine and half a piece of my son’s toast.

This summer we are going to be a family that is free of the overscheduling and exhaustion that comes with too many summer activities. I refuse to be overbooked and try to keep my kids busy every second. I remember summers when I was a kid and there was never any routine or structure, and it was well deserved and much needed. My mother certainly never felt guilty about it. And neither will I. Or at least I will try really, really hard not to.

Next year I will have one child in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school; that’s three different kids in three different schools. The only way I am going to be able to pull that off is if I have a respite this summer. Even then I am sure to fall short at least half the time.

I see the tiredness in my kids when we are burning the candle at both ends and I won’t do it to them or myself during the summer when we are allowed to slow down a little and pick flowers and lie on our backs and watch the clouds.

Sure maybe they will fight and complain they are bored, but learning how to get along and entertain themselves on their own are life skills they need to learn. I don’t need to direct their lives or their free time every second. Not only that, I want to leave room for myself to be spontaneous or take someone up on last minute plans to go to the beach. There is so much magic in doing things that have not been planned.

And by magical things I am not talking about physically hurting myself by trying to create unrealistic magic with fancy Pinterest projects or inviting the all the neighbor kids over for a party complete with a science experiments and a treasure hunt while I serve treats shaped like animals and drinks with straws that double as whistles. I will fill my freezer with cheap non-organic freeze pops for the summer, pass them out when kids show up unannounced and call it good.

I want to chase fireflies and butterflies, binge-watch ridiculous kid shoes on rainy days, eat ice cream for dinner a few times, and relax a little with healthy eating habits, getting to bed on time, and wearing proper clothing. If my daughter wants to stay in her pajamas or my son insists on wearing his bathing suit for three days, it really isn’t causing any harm. The bonus is I will have less laundry. Now that sounds like magic to me!

The bottom line here is I need a freaking break, so do my kids. Maybe when it is time to go back to school the adjustment might be a little harder, but I am willing to take the risk. I have a feeling this summer is going to be worth it.

Photo: Getty