Thursday, April 3, 2014

Say NO to Summer Activities

The school year is coming to an end all too soon, which means signing up for summer activities is hot on every school aged children's parents minds. I had a list of summer activities I was signing my minis up for. A long list. Gotta keep them involved throughout the summer so they don't "lose" anything over the summer. Last night I sat down to pay all of those activities and nearly choked at the total: over $1,000 in summer camps, swimming lessons, reading programs, sports, art classes, science center classes, and zoo classes. I ripped those sign up sheets into tiny pieces and tore apart checks.

I am saying "NO!" to summer activities this year.

Okay, so I'm not saying no to all summer activities. Swimming lessons, soccer, and a month long summer reading course are still in because swimming is a life saving skill I want my children to have, soccer teaches them great skills, to work as a team, and gets them exercise, and reading keeps their minds going. Otherwise, all other activities are getting the boot.

In my need to sign my kids up for activity upon activity, I forgot the best benefit of my job: my kids are already involved in something every single day. My kids already spend their days with other kids, some of their best friends. They socialize. They learn to play together. They create games and activities using their imaginations. The older kids teach the younger kids. They help each other out. They learn how to handle conflicts. They run through the sprinkler every afternoon. They get to have picnic lunches. They plant flowers and watch them grow. Most of all, they learn from each other.

Make no mistake, I'll keep their minds fresh too: the older kids do work books, read to the younger kids, learn letters through alphabet activities, count, sing songs (Music Monday's was created by last summer's crew), dance, and exercise. But my kids will also get a huge benefit I hadn't thought of until seeing that gruesome $1,002 total. They'll get to just be kids. They'll run around our backyard barefoot with the sprinkler going to keep them cool, for hours on end (our water bill is atrocious in the summer by the way). With nowhere to rush off too. I have no doubt that they'll learn a thing or two this summer.....last summer's big lesson was not to scream "help!!" loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear unless there was actually an emergency. I'm also quite confident that by the time summer ends, they'll be more than ready to go back to school and I may happily weep as I send them off on their first day back.

While Cooking Camp and outer space Camp and Bug Camp sound pretty cool, I'll come up with a few "camps" of my own.  I don't know if our science experiments here at home compare to Mad Scientist Camp, but I'll take my chances and purchase a few science kits for this summer. Grab a few giant boxes for outer space day so they can make their own spaceship. Blending up some smoothies for a morning snack and baking cookies for a cooking day. Goodbye $1,002 summer camps.....I'm taking my summer back, keeping my money, and enjoying it like a kid eating a popsicle on a 90 degree day.