Days of Everything and Nothing

Space Camp Jars

I told my husband last night that I am so glad we don’t “do anything” with the kids. He kind of gave me a look like I was nuts and said “What are you talking about? WE DO ALL KINDS OF THINGS. We’re always busy.”

Well… yes and no.

My two elementary-aged children go to an all-day Montessori camp in the summer. The length of the day varies only slightly from their normal school day during the year. My toddler daughter continues her full-day day care routine, with the only change being the introduction of “water days” twice a week in which we have to remember to send a change of swimming suit, towel, and water shoes.

The days are longer, and the kids spend a lot of time running around in the backyard. Which makes for a quiet house in the evenings.

I asked my 7-year-old yesterday what they do all day at Montessori camp. This is their third year enrolled, but I realized that I have never really prodded about what they do. He told me that when they arrive they write in their journals and then they can do math worksheets, cursive pages, or play Solitaire. Then they go outside for recess. Have lunch. Do an activity related to the theme of the week (this week is space so yesterday they came home with jars of cotton balls and sparkly things that represented stars). Free choice time in which they can read or play games. Followed by more recess.

Sounds like an absolutely perfect way to spend the day. Mostly play, with a little bit of structure.

We don’t have our kids in any organized activities, other than swimming lessons in the summer. Nothing that requires tournaments, lessons, practices, or performances. A few years ago, we did taekwondo, but at two lessons per week, it felt like a big commitment and the kids began to complain about not wanting to go.

But, as my husband pointed out last night, we are far from “not busy.” Last weekend I spent about half a day working on the yard, including planting sunflowers — which I have wanted to do for several years. There was a visitto the zoo on a Friday when the last day of school was on a Thursday and camp didn’t start until the following week. We also had friends over for a BBQ. This upcoming weekend is Father’s Day, so we’ll go out to dinner at a place of Dad’s choosing.

Our busy though, is a lot different than the busy of other families. We control it and we choose the activities. We like our memberships to the museums or random family-style trips to Target, or walks to the park. I have an entire art cabinet filled with supplies for rainy days and saying “just grab a piece of paper and color.” We intersperse the days with designated screen time and educational apps. And every weekend we have collective family “quiet time” for about two hours in the middle of the day, for either napping or playing quietly.

And I love it. I love watching the kids run around in the backyard, with only their imaginations to entertain them. Sometimes I sit back there with a glass of wine and a book or my journal, or only my sunglasses.

I know it won’t last forever. They’ll probably hit middle school or high school and want to be involved in activities at school. But for now? Our form of busy — which often involves nothing structured at all — suits me just fine.

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