How do you feel about your children having weeks off on summer vacation?
Some moms are excited about having the children home for weeks and others are nervous about the days stretched before them and how to entertain their little ones.
I used to have a mixture of feelings. It felt good not to have a tight schedule and I didn’t have to rush the kids out to school but another part of me thought about the mess, the noise and whining of what to do.
Children do not need to have their whole summer filled up with camps and activities. Not only are camps expensive butlet them use their imagination and find things to do. They may initially complain they are bored- that’s ok! They will quickly figure out how to fill their free time- an essential skill to learn.
In the “Coddling of the American Mind”, the authors, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt state ‘that children deprived of free play are likely to be less competent- physically and socially –as adults”. Children learn cooperation, independence and responsibility through unstructured play.
GO WITH THE FLOW
Play can involve making a mess and you have to go with it. My children loved performing shows, often it was a simple dance show but as they became older they wrote the script, enlisted friends and charged us an entrance fee for a ticket! They pulled out dressing up clothes to fulfill their role and had an assortment of props- yes, it was messy but it let the children use their imagination- and the joy of seeing that in your children is far greater than the effort to tidy up.
I remember when my children made a zoo outside and stuffed animals were strewn around the yard (the animals were in their ‘pens’). They put the gorilla in the tree and the seal in a pretend pond. Another time they made a large railway system with Duplo and had constructed villages adjoining the railway tracks. The villages had schools and houses with lots of people. The whole room was taken up with an assortment of toys. Looking back, I think how wonderful it was but at the time, I saw a pile of things that needed to be put back. However, I went with the flow and they played for days with their ‘town’ and eventually it was all tidied away.
Younger children can have lots of fun with a plain box- making helmets, using it as a car or painting a large appliance box as a house or fort. Give older children a pile of straws and see if they can build something!
Let them be creative, don’t jump in to help and take over. Help them expand their ideas and imaginations.