Summer Time 2005

Feet splashing in water

My neighbour and I sat watching our children run through the water sprinkler in her backyard, enjoying the sounds of their laughter and the soft droplets wind swept our way. Basking in the above average temperatures of June, she closed her eyes and said “ah, only 2 weeks to go.” “To what?” I enquired. “To no more early morning routines, school lunches, punctual 3pm pick ups and extra curricular activities. I can’t wait for school to end.” She echoed my sentiments. And surely, if we both feel it, then others do too. It’s not just the kids counting down the days until summer vacation, but many parents too. By the time you read this column, summer holidays will likely be upon us. Some parents look forward to the freedom of their kids being away at overnight camp for a month. A time to catch up on some leisure activities, to organize photos left in store envelopes for months at a time. For others, like my neighbour and me, it’s more about not having to get the kids are up at a certain time, breakfasted within 15 minutes and out the door soon thereafter. It’s about not having to do as much clock watching, about not having to conjure up interesting healthy lunches and then despairing when they come home uneaten. It’s about spending some quality family time together. For some families, day trips are the answer. A trip to African Lion Safari or to the local zoo can be just the trick to bind a family unbound by too many individual activities throughout the year. Better yet, a weekend away camping or a few days at a resort or cottage can be the magical solution to relaxing a stressful school year. A time to linger over simple pleasures such as board games (even though I must admit to calling them “bored” games), playing frisbee or catch at the local park. It’s true that with all the programming and intense schedules that children, and their parents, manage all year, children often have a tough time transitioning from being busy every waking moment to taking on the slower, lazier pace of the summer. It may be for fear of their whining “I’m bored” that parents organize similar schedules during the summer. I recognize that not all parents have the luxury of hanging out with their children during the summer, but for those of us fortunate to work part time or have summers off too, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with our kids. I’ve found that while some summer time planning is certainly warranted – 3 to four weeks of camp and a couple of weeks of family time, it’s great to leave half of the school summer break for kids to relax and invent ways to entertain themselves. And then, just when they get the hang of lazy days and perfect the art of doing nothing in particular, I can imagine my neighbour and me counting down the days to the start of another school year.