I like our summer open and free to roam. Room for the spontaneous and the "why nots?". We all have a different idea of what we'd like summer to look like for our children. What works for one child or family won't work for the next. This 3 post series on "Camp Mom" is mostly for the mom who craves giving their children more teaching moments inside the home and looking for a break from the "busy" structure during the school year.
Call it Mom Camp, Family camp, or simply "summer". Just simple time, where they can climb trees, swim, and find time to get bored... yes, knowing the feeling of being "bored." That is always my summer goal. Why? Because with boredom comes creativity. I see the rise of creativity from boredom every summer. Our children are privileged to attend a school that is constantly challenging them, inspiring them... the very opposite of bored. Summer is the time I like to give our children more control and to experiment with the gift of free time.
Several summers ago I noticed our children attempting to use screen time to fill their boredom. I came up with a system (with their help) and it's since become a key element of our summer schedule. I wrote about the steps we are taking to raise tech-positive children last year that explains more on the "screen time" subject with interesting research that could be a timely read before summer begins.
Every summer I contemplate on changing our system of earning screen time. Simply because I don't want screen time to be this shining object they are trying to reach. I'm aware how children can sometimes have a tendency to crave what they can't have even more than they did before. But this system/schedule surprises me year after year how well it works for our children and those I have shared it with.
The "brainwork" is often time spent working on their summer workbooks or writing in their journals. The "practicing skill" is unique for each child (guitar, acting, cooking etc). My thought is to leave it flexible for them to make choices and learn accountability.
Here's why this works for us:
Children have HUGE imaginations that they crave to let loose! I've seen when given the time and a few simple creative resources they prefer using their own creativity and imagination over lazily observing screens. This is simply a schedule that leads them to find their way to play that day. Most days they end up falling so deep into play that hours have gone by and they have forgotten about the tv show they wanted to watch.
Even in the summertime kids want structure, and this outline gives them visible structure. I leave them in control of the where, when, and how and watch them take pride in their accomplishments.
As much as this looks like a list of hard rules, I make sure it's as relaxed and fun as possible. Sometimes two of the boxes are merged to one (such as my 9-year-old teaching my 7-year-old how to play guitar - this is helping someone and creative/practicing his skill).
This schedule is used mainly for the days we have no big plans. If we have a big adventure planned, this is often ignored all together.
Tomorrow I will share my thoughts on the importance of self-care to get us Mamas through "Mom camp".