Summer was simple when I was a child. We had very little resources financially and an abundance of time. Summer days felt long and deliciously conducive to the lost art of thinking.
As a child, I have vivid memories of hanging off the edge of my bed, staring at the ceiling, and imagining a world of bare white floors with no furnishing. An upside-down world. I remember being so entertained by the silly thoughts that were filling my imagination. I have memories of writing "a cookbook" of what I believed to be the most delicious recipes in the world...for a seven year old. I read books and slept under a tree. My brother and I made forts, copied master works of art, and listened to books on tape. It wasn't that we didn't like television-- there was just hardly need of it with all the creativity flowing about.
When did summer vacation become so complicated? When did summer begin to feel rushed, frantic, hurried, exhausting? When did we make summer about squeezing in as much entertainment, fun, and activities as the schedule could manage?
One of my boys said to me the other day, while fiddling with a Lego spaceship he was creating, "Mama, I love it when we get our chores done and just stay home and do nothing."
By nothing, I'm sure he did not mean lining everyone up on a bench and sitting with their hands on their laps; doing nothing meant being unhurried, relaxed, and free to explore and create. He wasn't asking to go to a movie, another water park, a summer program, or the store-- he was just enjoying home.
We live in a culture that equates doing with learning, entertainment with engaging, and busyness with living. We know better-- even if sometimes we forget.
There are so many opportunities for our little ones to be busy and entertained these days. While there are so many wonderful experiences our children can have through special events, activities, and programs, what our children often really need during summer break is just some time to BE. To think. To discover something about themselves in the midst of perceived boredom. To simply "do nothing." And, frankly, mamas need the same.
Here are some ideas to get you started in DOING NOTHING today:
1. Send everyone in your family off with a notebook and pencil for 30 minutes. No talking. Write or draw. Create a topic or make it freeform, but enjoy time alone before coming together and sharing what each came up with.
2. Try doing a family digital media fast. No TV, video games, ipods/ipads or computer for a week (or even a day!). And see how much fun kids can have when they think they are bored.
3. Let your kids create snacks or plan a meal with just what's available in the house.
4. Sit on the couch and listen to classical music on Pandora.
5. Have a conversation with your kids over afternoon tea.
6. Get down on the ground to read a book or play a game. (It's so much more intimate and less distracting.)
7. Do a back rub line, moving each person at the front of the line to the back after a few minutes, until you go through the line. (Why? Because everyone loves a back rub and fun conversations form when serving one another.)
8. Sit and look out a window, and pretend to read a book.
9. Write a letter.
10. Do nothing.
What are your favorite ways to "do nothing?"
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