Turn Summer Guilt into Summer Freedom

Tips to give your kids some downtime this summer

As a kid, I remember the last day of school. Rolling down the car windows on the drive home, feeling the hot air on my face and feeling free. We never had any grand plans in the summer—except to swim as much as we could. I loved—and still love—the water. Thinking back on it, I didn’t know how lucky I was.


My dad was a teacher, and my mom stayed home with my sister, brother and I until we were all in school. When she did go back to work, she always took three weeks off in the summer, which meant we didn’t go to camp. Truth is, I never wanted to go to camp and always felt bad for kids who did. I wanted as little structure as possible after a busy school year. I did hear other kids saying they loved it, but all I wanted was to be home with my mom and dad.

Throughout the school year, life was busy with activities, school, and homework! Summer, to me, meant freedom. Being overbooked as a child meant stress, just like it does for an adult. In the summer, we could finally turn off. No tutors, no schedules, no nothing. Every day we woke up and let the day just happen. It was bliss.


Fast forward to me now, a mom of two young kids who are booked at summer camp each day: soccer, baseball and gymnastics. When do they get downtime? With two parents in full-time jobs (and then some), it seems like that packed schedule trickles down to our kids, who have to be enrolled in programs because we just can’t be there.

How do you find the balance in that? Do you have summer guilt?

But without all these camps, what would parents do? Having a two-income household is great. It pays the bills and allows for so many wonderful things, but does it allow for downtime for all involved? Do the kids really get that time to be bored? I think being bored as a kid gave me time to daydream and to find out what I loved. Do today’s kids get that time to be bored and daydream? If this is on your mind too, I’ve come up with some creative ways to give our kids back that summer feeling.

Tips to Give Kids Some Summer Downtime:

  • Parents can try to lump their vacation time together into consecutive weeks during summer break. Book it well ahead of time so the kids can be home with you!
  • Enlist family to take the kids out of camp to have a lazy week at Gramma and Grampa’s or an aunt and uncle’s house.
  • Hire a trusted teenage neighbour so the kids can stay home for a week and be chill. It might be cheaper than a week at camp, and having kids at home learning to be bored is good for the soul.
  • Combine and conquer with playdates. Get to know your kids’ friends’ parents and contact them to see if your kids can hang at their house. Our parents did this all the time! The kids can play together, and you can return the favour on a weekend.
  • Try to take some Mondays and Fridays off to be with the family. It gives the feeling of more time together on the weekend. And don’t forget to turn off that phone!


Published on: Vitalize Magazine


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