Once upon a time, summers were fun. Then, parents started feeling like they needed to plan the fun. So starting sometime in February, out comes the calendars and each and every day of the season gets scheduled with day camps, overnight camps, enrichment activities, playdates, vacations, preventing the summer slide, and on and on and on. We do it all to try to prevent the dreaded "I'm bored"—which inevitably happens anyway—and make sure our kids have the "best summer ever." But what ends up happening is we just run ourselves ragged.
That's exactly how mom blogger Kristen Hewitt found herself with big plans to be a "good mom" this summer: "There were going to be chore charts, reading goals, daily letter writing practice, and cursive classes," she wrote in a recent blog post that she shared on Facebook. "There would be no screen time until the beds were made, and planned activities for each day of the week."
But on the first day of summer vacation with her two daughters, instead of schlepping to the beach as scheduled, they "lounged in our pj's until 11am, baked the girl's pick - chocolate chip cookie brownies, started an art project we never finished, then moved to the pool," Hewitt wrote. And this blissfully simple day inspired Hewitt to scrap all her summer plans for this one instead: "Literally NOTHING."
Hewitt's admission that she's tired of schedules, places to be, and unrealistic expectations resonated with so many parents that her Facebook post has almost 13,000 likes and has been shared nearly 4,500 times at time of writing. "It's so easy to be pressured by things we see on social. Ways to challenge our kids and enrich their summer," Hewitt wrote. "But let's be real - we're all tired."
On why she thinks parents feel so pressured to overschedule their kids, Hewitt told Parents.com: “I think parents (at least me!) feel pressure from social media and other parents. We see these Pinterest projects, and hear about camps, and feel like we always need to keep up—enrich our kids during the summer, avoid the summer slump—and honestly, it’s exhausting! We rush all the time from place to place during the school year—it’s nice to have this time to just breathe!”
Truth! Just thinking about the summer and what to do with my kid sends me into a panic starting in late winter as I start getting emails from other parents about coordinating camps. It's enough to make me want to bury my head in the sand. But then I'd have to plan on going to a beach somewhere. It's a vicious cycle.
Obviously, Hewitt isn't going to do nothing, but instead is going to just see where each day of the summer takes them. "We may go to a local pool and check out the swimming programs. And we [may] join the local YMCA. But whatever we do - it will be low key," she wrote. "It will include family time, too much TV, a few trips, lots of sunshine, some new roller skates, water balloons, plenty of boredom, rest, relaxation, and reading.... I've dubbed this the 'Summer of Me,' so workouts and clean eating are a priority for me. And also giving our girls the freedom to pick what THEY want to do."
Hewitt has received an overwhelming outreach of support in response to her post. “I was so surprised and humbled by the reactions and messages I’ve received," she told us. "I just snapped that pic and wrote that post on a whim, and was shocked so many were in agreement. Just goes to show that as a society, perhaps we need to slow down and create the life WE want.”
She has, however, been getting a little bit of pushback from full-time working parents. "I get it, they don’t have the option to stay home like I do," Hewitt said. "But I do work from home, I have just crafted my schedule to work around our kids. This is what works for our family!”
Are you feeling major inspiration to scrap all your carefully curated summer days? Or feeling less panicked if you haven't yet figured out what you're doing this summer? Good. Because as Hewitt writes, "It's OK! Your kids will be fine and so will you."