Micromanaging daily life into a schedule of places to be, people to talk to and work that needs to be done is a reality for adults these days. There is no such thing as a “day off,” as nearly everyone is accessible by phone, whether by voice, email or text. And life can be particularly frantic for parents of young children.
But it should not be that way for their kids. During the school year, children of all ages have increasingly less time to relax, play and enjoy being kids. Their days are filled with homework, seemingly endless sports seasons, private tutoring, music lessons and more. This is occurring to such an extent that the perceived innocence of childhood may be irrevocably lost to some degree in the 21st Century school year.
Yet it can still be preserved during the quick three months of summer vacation.
However, too often parents interfere with that process by clogging their children’s summer days with planned activities. Some excursions to museums, the occasional music lesson or a week-long sports camp is a good way to keep kids’ minds active, while also providing some much-needed relief for parents. But some parents have their kids enrolled in camps that are month-long affairs or in a seemingly non-stop succession of shorter ones that require nearly all of the hours in a child’s day, and which consume a large portion of the summer vacation.
Summer should serve as a respite from the nonstop activity of the school year. Children need to play outside with their siblings and friends, discovering new things on their own, connecting with family, enhancing their social skills by interacting and playing with others, and learning that not all of life revolves around a schedule of events. This may seem a naively idyllic scenario to adults, or one skewed by selective childhood memories, but that is not the case. The remembrances exist because those times were generally that good — and we long for days of simplicity.
Let’s not take that away from the children who are lucky enough to experience such days now. Otherwise, they will not have the opportunity to fondly reminisce about their own summer fun later in life — if, that is, their adult schedules even permit such retrospection.