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Summer and the Art of Doing Nothing

We have emerged from the winter of COVID. Spring thawed our spirits and now summer is here, and we want to live out loud! Children who were busy with summer camps are home for the most part and families are looking to have fun and relax. Some of us will take vacations, others will do road trips and still others will just want to chill and hang out. 

It is not just the children looking forward to summer, parents get to take time off from work and enjoy the weather and be with family. Even those who work from home are looking forward to doing nothing! For every family, summer means taking it slow and that is very important to our rest and recovery.

It seems the most natural thing in the world to say, “I am on vacation and I want to do nothing.” However, as every parent knows, even doing nothing needs planning otherwise you will have bored little kids clamoring for something to do, or teenagers who want to disappear with their devices and friends. What a wasted family opportunity it would be if we did absolutely nothing! 

There are so many activities to choose from, beaches and parks, games and movies, day trips and evenings out, that there can almost be a paralysis of choice. What about food? There is a bounty of fruits and vegetables, which opens a vista of great salads and meals for the family to enjoy. We are ready to have fun, but it can feel like hard work, especially if it is just, you as mom or dad carrying the load.

You would like to savor each day before September arrives, and school is back, and things get hectic again. 

So, this year, try to delegate and “do nothing”. Ask each family member to give three suggestions of what they want to do.

I am sure your family will find something interesting from the choices each family member suggests.

Let each person be responsible for a week. Let them pick an activity, a day trip, a physical activity, and a family project. For the family project, think of getting help with something that you need to get done this summer. 

Once you have a list of activities generated by your family, which is broadly acceptable, the fun can begin. Put the activities in your calendar of events. Let each person own their activity and day
trip. 

They can plan what they want to see, what time they should wake up and what time the family should leave. Let them plan their breakfast and the picnic if you plan to carry food. You can limit the
options to sandwiches, fruit, and water. 

Let them decide what food, tablecloth, silverware, paper plates, they want to carry, down to the last detail. Teenagers and children will love planning and you will be happy to make it happen rather than putting out suggestions that are ignored, or losing your cool because you are doing everything. 

Plan a day trip to the city, a museum or go for a hike. 

Let them find out if you need tickets and you can buy it for them. Again, let them plan the outing and whether you pack any food. Keep the meal simple and make it healthy. Keep the snacks minimal. You can throw in a surprise, like a small scoop of their favorite ice cream after they have been walking. 

Additionally, a family project each summer is a great way to keep children busy and feel a sense of family accomplishment. I think working with photos and albums is fun. You could make a family photo wall. Let the children pick their project, you can always offer suggestions. It will get them interested and away from their devices. Plan something that maybe one day they can look back on fondly, something they created this summer.