Two near geniuses with wisdom beyond their years once said, “There’s 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it, so the annual problem for our generation is finding a good way to spend it.” Okay, so maybe Phineas and Ferb are not the Einstein’s of their generation (especially since they are cartoon characters), but they do speak for every child when they talk about finding a good way to spend that summer vacation they so eagerly anticipated.
Kids aren’t the only ones trying to find ways to fill those 100-plus days of summer. Parents can find themselves in a panic, wondering how to schedule their kids’ time off, carefully planning out a bucket list for the Best. Summer. Ever. But if there’s one thing that Phineas and Ferb teaches it’s that bucket lists aren’t necessary. Only a bit of time, a sprinkling of boredom and a healthy dose of imagination are all that is required. Perhaps they are on to something.
“Given the logistical rigor of the school year, I recommend trying to build in as many lazy days of summer as possible!” said Christine Koh, editor of the award-winning parenting/lifestyle portal BostonMamas.com and co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less. “Obviously, flexibility will depend on your work situation and the age of your kids, but the key is freeing yourself of the pressure to create the Best Summer Ever and remembering that it’s perfectly fine (and healthy!) for your kids to have unstructured time.”
This summer, instead of turning to a checklist and attempting to plan a perfectly executed summer with no room for boredom, kick the bucket list to the curb and opt for a more unstructured approach. To achieve a minimalist approach to summer, try these tips from Christine, an expert in the art of minimalist parenting:
Remember that boredom = good.
“I believe that the tendency for modern parents to want to help their kids avoid boredom comes from a well-intentioned place,” Christine said. “However, if you’re always solving your kids’ problems, they’ll never learn how to solve them on their own. When your kids complain of being bored, send them to the yard or playroom and wait them out. More often than not, they work it out. You’re doing them a favor by teaching them to problem solve and be resourceful!”
Do the simple things.
“Many parents feel the pressure to create the Best Summer Ever. You don’t need to do that! Do the simple things, like being a tourist in your own neighborhood or taking a family hike together. At the end of the day, your kids will be happier having your relaxed and happy attention, not you stressing out about logistics and details.”
Build better helpers.
“Kids should engage in chores year round, but during the summer, enlist your kids further, whether it’s taking on a task independently or enjoying connection time by preparing a meal together,” Christine said. “It’s a win for everyone; your load gets lightened, and they learn essential life skills.”
So this summer, instead of turning to Pinterest lists to fill the empty days, take a note from a cartoon. Allow your kids some room to breathe and be bored. Give them space to solve their own problems, to do the simple things and to pitch in with the chores. You never know what this approach could lead to…“like maybe building a rocket or fighting a mummy or climbing up the Eiffel Tower….”