I never thought I’d be the parent who overscheduled her child– dragging them from activity to activity after long days at school.
I promised myself that Callie didn’t need any extra enrichment outside of being a kid, life itself would be enough of an adventure for her. There is some truth to this, of course, but as with most things, I slowly noticed my tune changed once I had an actual child to raise. Oops.
It started with a Gymboree music class. We were going to just see if she liked it. Famous last words.
Add in the unique layers of doctor’s appointments, physical therapy sessions, and continuous prosthetic leg builds and fittings and sure enough, slowly but surely I started to see our calendars fill up.
Dance, horse back riding, after school math tutoring, dates with friends, archery competitions, birthday parties, and all of a sudden I was the mom who was throwing a granola bar to Callie in the back set as we sped from activity to activity.
And this summer, I made a conscious decision to trade busyness for unstructured time. Other than her weekly archery practice, I have scheduled absolutely nothing for Callie to do this summer. And I want to make it a tradition moving forward to never do it again. This is a beautiful time of year where our days can softly unfold into a slower rhythm.
She (and we) need some downtime. We need to give her time where her mind can wander. Where she can practice being bored. Where she can rest, rejuvenate, and get re-inspired. Time where we can slow down and spend time together without an agenda. Time where she can daydream. During the rapid fire schedule of the school year, it’s very easy for it to feel like unstructured time is fleeting and elusive. I don’t want to slow down in the summer just so we can rush back to jump on the busyness train, I want us to slow down so we can sit in the stillness. We can learn more about ourselves and each other in that quiet time. For us, the simple really is more.
My husband and I are very blessed to have careers with flexible schedules and we have an added bonus of having my parents who live very close to support. Because of this, we don’t need the structure and scheduling that multiple summer camps and activities would offer. Callie is able to get a change of scenery a few days a week by going over to Grammy and Grampys. That gives James and I the opportunity to get as much work as we can done during those days so we can be fully present when she comes home.
This summer our “routine” will look like lots of swimming. Melty ice cream cones. Learning how to bake dump cakes at Grammys. Walking Jack. Bedtimes inching later and later. Lots of art and writing. Maybe a few swim dates with friends. Going to Costco with Grampy. Eating our weight in BBQ. Creating. Movie nights with buckets of popcorn. Volunteering at the local animal shelter. Planting flowers in the backyard. Playing dominos and Uno. A summer of repetition sure…..but with repetition, we are creating a summer filled with brighter memories, vibrant colors, textures and smells.
And I know that once I feel the first whispers of fall and start seeing back to school activity calendars, I’m going to get the itch to do more. I will want to fill our schedules with the activities we love and the people we love spending time with. But I’m hoping in the midst of that, I’ll get a whiff of sunscreen, or see a deck of Uno cards, or catch a glimpse of the flowers we planted in the backyard.
And I’ll be reminded that simple, easy, unstructured time is just as important as any of the activities we can do. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll pack fewer granola bars in my purse and leave a few days on the calendar completely free–for stillness.