Summertime and the feeling is...BROKE!
Wait...isn't it supposed to be "EASY"? Well, that depends.
The things that my husband and I love about summer are the same as many parents we know: we don't have to pack hundreds of lunches or drag cranky kids out of bed. We don't have to carpool to three different schools and we get a break from homework, projects and activities. Hallelujah!
But that's not all we love about summertime. We love that the kids play outside in the neighborhood ALL DAY. We love regular bike rides to Juice it Up for Congo Lime smoothies, walks to Hill Top Park with our doggy, visits to the Ladera Ranch Library for more reading material, beach days and pool days and sprinklers-on-the-lawn days. We love picnics and play-dates and barbecues - CONNECTING with each other. Those are the highlights of summer.
In the last few weeks, we've been inundated with fliers and emails about summer camps, enrichment classes, amusement park discounts and activities galore...all of the possible options to fill our summer to the brim. But we don't want to go into debt to "entertain" our children as though they're relatives visiting from out of state. We've scheduled a few things but we can't do it ALL. Even if we could afford a trip to every local amusement park, luxury movie theaters, trampoline centers and water parks, on top of surf, cheer and tennis camps...even if we could, we wouldn't.
If we schedule away the peaceful, easy months of summer, we'll miss out in the fun of being spontaneous, which is sorely undervalued in our busy culture. I don't know about you, but we want the freedom to enjoy a day trip just because, or say yes when the kids come up with a great plan. We also want our kids to find value in creating their own fun, like cardboard forts, neighborhood obstacle courses and fresh-squeezed lemonade stands. And nothing beats a Netflix-family-movie-night with real buttered popcorn, or lazy, lounging mornings with absolutely nothing on the agenda. If we overbook our summer, we will miss every bit of it.
So as you sift through the options, resist the urge to fill every free moment. As a family, decide on the definite musts. Make sure you take advantage of your non-scheduled time, don't forget the local, low-cost options, and enjoy a peaceful, family-bonding, fun-filled summer. Who knows, with the money you save, maybe you can start planning a family vacation for winter break. It'll be here before you know it!