Why I’m Giving My Teens a Break from Their Over-Scheduled Lives this Summer

I’ll never forget the summers before I had to work full-time to afford my student loans, apartment, car, lights and running water.

During those summers, I’d go to work in the afternoon, stay out late with friends, come home and make toast before crawling into bed and sleeping until eleven before I did it all again the next day.

It wasn’t laziness–it was an experience and a wonderful one at that and I’m thankful my mom didn’t try and keep me busy at every turn during those years. I got to have freedom to do my thing before life got real and my responsibility to act like an adult kicked in.

Why I am not scheduling activities for my teens this summer. (@mylove4art via Twenty20)

Who doesn’t look back on their teen years during the summer without thinking those were the days?

It’s the only time in your life you are old enough to do some adult things, yet you don’t have to pay the mortgage.

Going out with your friends occupies a lot of your time and money, but that works out well since you always have a warm, safe bed to come home to. And you can usually find something to eat on the way to your bedroom, then pass out so you can repeat it all the next day.

Now, in 2019, things feel different. The expectation to fit it all in and keep your kids busy is prevalent and a lot of parents feel pressure to keep up with what everyone else is doing.

My kids just had Spring Break. Now that they have returned to school they have 6 weeks of classes left. This year has flown by faster than any other and the end of their time living under my roof is creeping up on me faster than my laugh lines.

The old me would have been in a panic at this time since we have zero things planned for the summer. I mean, when someone asks you what your summer plans are, you can’t say “Nothing, we are keeping it open so my teenagers can have a relaxed summer and do what they want without a schedule,” can you?

Oh yes, you can.

Let me tell you, the woman who used to stock the summer with “fun” plans and activities has left the building and I feel as free as a bird. If I could bottle up this feeling and sell it, I would.

The time my kids are in right now, the space between gaining independence and going out with their friends without a lot of responsibilities, is fleeting.

And the fact that my kids don’t want to be shuffled around, or have any sort of set schedule all summer wasn’t even on my radar.

The other day as I was rattling off ideas to fill up summertime because I want to make sure we get it all in and my kids don’t get a huge case of the summer slides, my son said to me “Mom, we do the scheduling crap all during the school year. I’m tired of it. Chill.”

I could tell by my quick change of heart that I was tired of the scheduling crap too. In one small moment the color came back into my knuckles and I let my idea of  summertime entertainment go.

I’m not going to think we have to have epic adventures anymore just because my kids are on summer vacation. We are going to take it day by day. We are going to do things we want to do. And for the love of all things holy, we are going to relax, intentionally.

I want to keep the schedule open to take my kids to the beach whenever they want to go.

I want to open the house up to their friends and let them hang out all day and eat junk food without telling them their time is up because we have 5 places to be that day.

I want them to wake up in the morning and let them decide what they want to do with their day because when you are a teen in the summertime and get to put the book down and take a breather, it’s truly an amazing time. Our kids deserve to have a break from the chaos of schedules and practice and rushing off on the regular because their mom thinks they need a bunch of activities to keep them busy.

I’m glad my son talked some sense into and made me realize sometimes the best seasons are the ones that aren’t manufactured, but the times that leave you free to build memories that will make you look back and think, Those were the days.

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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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