By Jennifer Allison, Gnome’s Home
The school year rhythm has wound down, and now we are faced with summer! There are so many choices for you and your family, and it can be overwhelming just thinking about what activities and vacations to do with your children. My mind is boggled as I plan out adventures to embark upon with my three children. While sifting through the various summer options, it feels as though the weeks have already passed by. This is where I get grounded and I remember one of the golden rules of childhood; simplicity.
My summers were filled with days playing in the woods, walking down to the local lake and swimming with the neighbors and basking in the sun. We did the occasional family vacation to the Jersey shore, and I went to a very cool overnight camp near my home in the heart of the Pine Barrens. Mostly, however, my days were spent in the lush landscape of the forest and lakes that surrounded my neighborhood, where I would get lost in nature. I miss those days.
So when I want to be a supermom, and I start fussing with all the things we could be doing, I pause and remember these simple elements I am going to share with you that make childhood the wonderment it is and deserves to be.
• Plan a simple rhythm: What has to happen in your day? Eating, quiet time, a morning outing before the sun scorches you? Put down on paper the basic elements that you and your youngsters have to do, and then let there be space for the unpredicted and unplanned to pull you into adventure. Keep your days and life simple! Summer is a good time to slow down and enjoy the natural elements. Build in a quiet time for you and the kids, even if it is 30 minutes. Everyone can benefit from alone time.
• Do one special thing: Have you made this mistake: In the morning we are picking berries, and then meeting the Jones’s for lunch at the park, followed by friends over for dinner and ice cream at the local shop? Well, I have. This spells disaster for your littlest ones. It is simply TOO much. One of my mottos is, “Too much of a good thing is still too much.” Just doing ONE of any of those things will make your day super special. Try it. It works.
• Let your child get bored: Every moment does not have to be the utmost supreme adventure that invokes every positive feeling your child has ever had. Seeking this goal sets kids up for the instant gratification monster that is always hungry no matter how much you feed it. The developing brain actually needs the down time, and you can tell your kids that something is coming right around the next corner.
Summer is a time of ease and enjoyment, so let your days be simple and fun.
Jennifer Allison is an early childhood educator at Gnome’s Home. Visit www. gnomeshome.org for more information on classes for children and adults.