Laid-back summer: Chicago family ditches overscheduled plans

Confession: My kids are not signed up for one camp, clinic, class or activity this summer. Not one of them.

It started out as busy-ness. I got the catalog from the park district and started planning some classes out, but the last few weeks of school were so chaotic. Nothing started until mid-to-late June anyway, on account of our school getting out several weeks before my public school. In fact, I haven’t even planned our days out like we did last year.

No, this year summer has been about being spontaneous, relaxed and going with the flow. So far, its been the best summer, despite having the less than best weather we have had in recent memory. I was starting to feel guilty about it, like my kids were missing out, like I was taking laid back to the point of being lazy.

Then this week came. It was time for Vacation Bible School, the one thing we are signed up for because we help run it. We have to leave the house around 8 a.m., later than during the school year, but earlier than we have left the house in three weeks. Everyone is miserable. Oh, VBS is great fun, but the structure? Apparently our type A-ness started fading in the sun and not one of us wants a routine.

It looks like the desire to slow down and take in each moment has finally become routine, it’s just what we do now. Instead of planning tomorrow, we’re living today. We wake up and say, “What should we do,” and we do what looks like fun and what the weather allows.

Tonight, despite having a late dinner, and it having just downpoured and suddenly gotten a lot cooler, we went for ice cream. It meant a later bedtime. It meant messes and chasing a toddler when we could have been relaxing. But it also meant squeals of delight from the kids. Jumping up and down and pure utter delight.

You can’t schedule that.

So instead of fretting, looking ahead and trying to get into a class or camp at this late date. We’re going to finish VBS and that’s it. We’ll spend the summer doing what we want. We’ll go when we want to, we’ll hang out at home when we want to. Yes, we’ll probably watch too much TV and no, my kids won’t develop any new skills over summer. Unless you count life skills, and then I’m pretty sure they will be learning a lot. Spontaneity, living in the moment and delighting in what’s around them.

It’s going to be a great summer.

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