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How to Slow Down with Your Kids This Summer

© Photo: Agung Pandit Wiguna (Pexels)

By Meghan Moravcik Walbert, Lifehacker

We often lament the loss of 1980s and 90s summers. We miss the way kids would leave home in the morning on their bikes with their friends, making it back only once or twice for food before calling it quits at dusk.

It’s unlikely your kids will have the same wild and free summers that you remember from your childhood, but that’s okay. A little structure is a good thing. Even in the summer, kids need regular nap times, bedtimes, rules, expectations and habits. These provide a sense of security, create a calmer atmosphere at home and will help them to readjust to school in the fall so much faster.

But there is still a way to recreate for them the classic Summer That Lasts Forever—and that’s by slowing down. The school year is a marathon yet every day feels like a sprint. You start your day by trying to get everyone out the door on time with packed lunches and library books and some random item for show and tell. The evenings are a rush of homework-soccer-dinner-baths-bedtime.

You probably use the weekends to either catch up or get ahead and before you know it, the first day of the school year has morphed into the last day of the school year. Rachel Macy Stafford of Hands Free Mama reminds us that summer is our chance to slow down. Here’s how she tells Motherly she does it:

Fewer hours spent in the kitchen and more casual picnic dinners on the patio (popsicles included)

Less baking perfection and more helping hands

Less formal sheet music and more playing of the tunes within our heart

Less watching of Netflix and more watching of the storms roll in

Less “hurry up” and more “take your time”

Less time spent on appearance and more hats on unwashed hair


Be late

Now is your chance to spend your time getting out the door. No bell is going to ring, forcing you to sign your kid in at the office rather than dropping him at the door to the school. No bus is going to take off before you can get to the stop. Let your kid tell you a big long story while also putting on their shoes, even though it means it takes them a full five minutes to pull on a pair of sandals.

Take your time getting wherever you’re going. Or better yet, just stay home and play in the sprinkler.


Let the activities drop off

As spring sports and after-school activities come to an end, resist the temptation to add a bunch of new lessons or activities to your schedule. Even for the year-round stuff, dial it back.

I know, it feels so weird to not have to keep track of what field you’re heading to tonight. But the lazy, open evening is quite possibly the best part of summer. That’s the time when you play badminton in the backyard and teach them to how chase and (gently) catch fireflies.

Plan memories—picnics in the park, pool dates with friends—rather than regular activities.


Reinstate the family dinner

If family dinners became something of a rush job (or simply didn’t happen) during the school year because this kid had to get to baseball practice and that kid had to get to Girl Scouts, that’s okay. A large percentage of my son’s dinner plates this school year were full of hot dogs and pizza. It is what it is.

But now you can slow down and try that new recipe you bookmarked back in March. Maybe even let them help, even though it takes them 579 times longer than you to chop a carrot.

You can sit down together and remember what it was like to talk about the highs and lows of your day—because there’s no place else you have to be.



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Home Magazine: How to Slow Down with Your Kids This Summer
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