During spring break, my kids were talking and planning for the upcoming summer. The break from school switched them into vacation mode and they continued to ask me question after question about what we would be doing this summer. Surprise kids! We’re going to plan a simple slow summer this year.

What a plan for a simple slow summer looks like…

plan a simple slow summer

Structure

Our kids’ lives are so structured during the school year. They have a certain time they have to get up to get ready for school. Their entire school day is structured with what they are doing when.

If they’re in after-school activities they have more structure to their schedule in the evening too. Then, it is time for them to get ready for bed at a certain time so they can get up to do the whole thing again tomorrow.

It makes me tired just thinking about it. That is a lot of structured time, particularly for younger children.

With my youngest being in kindergarten this year, I am looking forward to a summer with less structure and more time to let her relax. That doesn’t mean we have no structure, but I enjoy the slower pace of summer and allowing my kids a lot more unstructured time.

My kids enjoy doing lots of activities. If it were up to them I would take them to the park and have playdates almost every day. While we do a lot of that, I don’t necessarily feel the need to preplan everything.

Some scheduled activities are good because it gives us all something to look forward to, but too much of it makes for a stressful situation.

Stimulation

Our world is full of constant stimulation that we’ve adapted and don’t even recognize it anymore. If you compare the pacing of children’s shows now to say Mr. Rogers you’d find it has changed significantly.

And we wonder why kids have trouble paying attention. The pacing of shows has trained them to have a shorter attention span.

I love the idea of a slower summer with less stimulation. More time to let kids be kids. It is in these times that forts are built and imaginary worlds created. When the distractions are taken away, children are incredibly resourceful and creative.

Slower

Last summer our schedule was a bit busier than usual. First, I have to say that on the spectrum of busy, I tend to err on the plan less side.

That doesn’t mean we never do anything. I just don’t enjoy having a lot of structured activities where I am required to be somewhere at a certain time.

It seems counter to my type A nature, but with my kids I don’t like feeling like we are always on a schedule and needing to go somewhere.

I enjoy the freedom of fewer plans and being open to the possibilities of where the day make take us.

The pace of life is so fast much of the time. Summer is the perfect time to adopt a slower pace. It’s hard not to feel anxious when we are overscheduled and always on the run to the next thing.

Choosing to slow down doesn’t come naturally to me, but there are so many benefits.

When we take the opportunity to relax, our attitudes and mental health improve. We model for our children what a healthy pace of life looks like. If we can never learn to relax, how can we expect them to?

How to plan a simple slow summer:

Set priorities

Once the summer has ended, what adjectives do you want to use to describe how it was? How do you want your kids to describe it? What is most important to you and your family?

Reassess your commitments as you make your summer plans. What themes do you want for the upcoming break?

Take the time to fill out the Priorities Assessment worksheet and go over it with your family. You can get it by filling out the form below.

My priorities this summer are relaxing, family time, and enjoying the sunshine. Last summer my goals were to teach some life skills. The summer before that my goal was all about adventures and trying new things.

You can have whatever combination of goals you want. In order to be able to accomplish them though, you need to be very aware of your yes’s and no’s on commitments. Practice saying no more often.

Review calendar

Have you ever thought in May that the summer seemed like such a long time only to get to September and wonder how it all went so fast? Heading into summer there are so many things that sound fun.

It is easy to keep saying yes and not even realize that we have overscheduled and perhaps even double-booked ourselves.

Before saying yes to anything, look back at your priorities worksheet AND look at the calendar for the whole summer. You may find that once you begin penciling in all of your commitments and plans that your schedule may already be full.

Resist the temptation to schedule a camping trip every weekend. There is freedom to be found in free time.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get to the end of the summer and feel relaxed instead of like you just got run over by a truck?

Be selective

There are so many things to pick and choose from during the summer with vacations, new adventures, time with family and friends, camps, sports, and lessons.

If you want to plan a simple and slow summer, you need to be selective. Make sure what you are choosing lines up with the priorities you’ve established.

Have you ever thought about adding life skills on your summer to do list? I had the goal last year of teaching my kids to ride bikes. It didn’t happen, so maybe this year.

Summer is a great time to take the opportunity to teach your kids something new and to help prepare them for the future.

I can’t tell you how many kids get to college and have no idea how to do laundry. My life goal is to have my kids know how to do basic life skills by the time they are 18. You’re welcome, future roommates.

An added benefit to doing fewer organized activities is that it can save you money. Summer can be expensive.

Camps and lessons often don’t come cheap and in many cases don’t fit with my frugal ways. A slower summer can also be a less expensive summer.

Semi-structured

I think it’s great to have some structure over the summer. Kids thrive on structure and knowing what to expect. I prefer a relaxed structure so the kids have a general sense of what to expect, but it isn’t stifling and regimented.

Some moms have really enjoyed setting up theme days during the summer. You can see a great example of that HERE. If this concept appeals to you, go for it.

Fewer structured plans allow for more imaginative play. Incorporating art, exercise, nature and outdoor activities are all great. We also enjoy checking out the events our local library puts on in the summer. Concerts in the park are another family favorite.

There is a temptation to create more structure for fear our kids will get bored. And guess what? They will. Or at least they might say they are. My kids have learned not to do that in my house.

Complaining that you are bored means you get to do chores. Children are resourceful. Sometimes we need to allow them to be bored in order for them to come up with their own creative solutions.

Spontaneity

Create a schedule that allows for margin and also spontaneity. Deciding last minute to check out a park you haven’t been to or being able to get together with friends at the last minute can be so much fun!

If you’re overscheduled to start with you won’t have the flexibility and the margin to be as spontaneous. When you plan a simple and slow summer you have the space to say yes if you so choose.

I’ve found that some of the best memories are made from moments you didn’t pre-plan.

What a slow summer isn’t…

Just to be clear I am NOT recommending that people stay home all summer and don’t go places and do things. What I am suggesting is that we schedule less and have a greater degree of flexibility in the summer.

I think moms and kids need a break and summer should be a time to relax and enjoy life.

Everyone has a different comfort level with activities. Be true to yourself and what you know to be best for you and your family. Choose to be intentional with your time and plan a simple slow summer that you can savor.

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