Summertime, and the living is easy—right? That’s not always the case if you have kids. But with a different approach and perspective, summer as a family with kids can be something to look forward to. In this post, positive parenting educator and Certified Life Coach Giselle Baumet shares some tips to help you plan for a slow, simple living summer with your kids.
I’m choosing a slow, simple living summer with my four kids out of school. And here’s why.
Simple living is proven to reduce stress and calm the central nervous system. It helps us think better, use our resources better, and be more in the present moment, an active form of mindfulness.
Summer with an easy routine and simple living concepts means my children are more at ease, more grounded, and more emotionally and physically regulated.
Choosing a simple living summer with a flexible routine means fewer activities, more intentional interactions, more outdoors, less planning, less doing, and more quality time together. It means enjoying summer more slowly together and less of a fast-paced lifestyle.
As a family with four kids, it wasn’t always the template of our summers, but through practice, we learned to create a routine that honors the needs of the children while also allowing for the calmness and ease of simple living throughout the summer (and school year).
This article will share the three essential steps I took to create a beautiful, simple living summer.
(1) Aim to only do planned activities that bring you together as a family.
There is a time and place for organized sports, extracurricular summer activities, camps, and classes, and plenty of these are available throughout the summer. However, each one of these should be analyzed for two things:
- a) Does it bring us together as a family?
- b) Does it improve our quality of life?
When presented with or considering an option for your child’s schedule, ask yourself how it brings you and your children together more robustly as a family.
Does it offer opportunities for communication, easy-flowing interactions, and increasing calmness and synergy in the family? Or does it add an extra trip where there’s already not enough time or create a disruption to the open play time for your child?
Consider if the activity increases the quality of your lives, individually and as a family, or if it adds stress and anxiety as you struggle to organize the time and effort it takes to make the activity happen.
These questions require your willingness to say no if you sense that it will disrupt the peace of your home vs. increase it.
2) Have a loose structure to the day that allows for good sleep, plenty of play, and adequate, peaceful meals.
Admittedly, I do love the structure and routine that school provides. However, in the summer, especially since it’s so short, I prefer to have a loose routine that still gives my children good sleep, free play, and family meals.
When it comes to sleep, the goal is not to reduce the amount of sleep during the summer but to shift the times. So, if your child usually went to bed at 7:30 pm during the school year and woke up around 6:30 am – 7:00 am, then you might consider doing an 8:30 pm bedtime for the summer, as long as your child sleeps longer, until 7:30 am – 8 am.
Because we know that free play is essential for good child development, you should invite as much of it as possible during the day.
Free play is unstructured, independent play time that your child chooses.
One of my favorite places to take my kids for free play includes nature parks, beaches, pools, and hikes. However, I also allow for plenty of free play at home, including video games, puzzles, board games, watching a show or movie, or reading a book.
Studies show that frequent meals together are associated with better psychosocial outcomes for children and adolescents. In addition, meal times are an excellent time to bring the family together and enhance our communication.
I make it a point to have a sit-down breakfast and dinner together. But now that my kids are preteens and teens, they often eat lunch at various times. However, our foundational meals of breakfast and dinner together remain all through the summer days.
For your family, you might find that you’d like all meals together or that you’ll focus on one sit-down meal together. You’ll find what works best for your family.
3) Remember that a small change to you could be a significant change for your child.
As humans, we tend to have a hard time with changes. It disrupts our internal equilibrium. I always find this ironic, considering that life is guaranteed to give us changes.
Knowing that change can be disruptive, I am mindful of the vacations, trips, and even visitors we consider during the summer months.
Some of the things I consider before planning a trip, vacation, or having visitors over are:
- Does it allow for at least three weeks of transition and resettling once we are back (or the visitors leave)?
- Does it excite us as a family?
- Does it allow for the same concept of slow living and ease during the vacation or while the visitors are here?
- Will we be able to schedule plenty of downtime during the vacation?
Ideally, you’ll want to come back from your vacation and not feel that you need a vacation from your vacation! I find this hard to do, considering that I want to do as much as possible while on vacation, but I’ve learned that it’s equally important to allow for down time and rest while traveling.
It often surprises parents how long a child needs to resettle and transition back from changes. You’ll see the struggle to transition through their sleep (becomes disruptive) or behavior (often in the form of neediness and clinginess).
The best way to avoid this is by accepting (and planning for) a good 3-4 weeks of transition time post-vacation or post-visitors. And the best way to transition is through practicing slow living and a flexible routine.
Takeaway from 3 Essential Ways to Have a Slow Living Summer with Kids
Life moves fast. And yet we often wish for time to slow down or for moments to not pass by quite so fast. The good news is that we get to create the life we desire throughout the summer through the practice of slow living with our children.
You’ll find that with activities that bring you closer together while allowing for plenty of free play and space for transitions, you’ll create more peace, calmness, and emotional regulation for your child through the summer months. And you might also enjoy this pace of life even longer, as you bring this same mindset through the school year.
Please comment below with your ideas for slow living and your experiences in practicing it.
Giselle Baumet is a Certified Life Coach, positive parenting educator, herbalist, aromatherapist, hypnotherapist, mental health educator, and more. She is also a Piper + Enza expert contributor. Learn more about her work at gisellebaumet.com.