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#AskAlyson: Schedules vs. Lazy Days of Summer

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Dear Alyson,

My kids are 12 and 14 this year and are able to stay home alone during the day for the summer.  In the past, we have always arranged camps and extra-curricular activities for them to keep them busy and combat the “I’m Bored” syndrome, but this year they are asking for a summer of freedom.  They aren’t interested in any organized or scheduled activities and just want to have the summer to be lazy.  Part of me wants to allow that as we know the years of summers off come to an end quickly.  What are your thoughts?



Hi Gupta,


Thanks for submitting such a great question.  I’m a huge fan of bored kids and unscheduled time to just let life happen.  Here’s why:


I love the summer.  We have a cottage that has been in the family since 1921 and my whole family congregates there over the summer months.  My mother was a teacher and my father worked at the university so the school year was always very busy.  Summer on the other hand brought about a marked change in speed and tone for our family.  At the cottage, we had no TV or radio.  Not even a phone.  We spent hours doing chores, playing parlour games, cards, capture the flag, swimming and exploring nature.  I loved it!


I tried to continue that tradition as best as I could with my own daughters.  For the most part, we succeeded.  The cottage eventually did get a phone line, and then the internet.  We would go camping in Algonquin or Killarney National Parks to get completely off the grid.  Now there is cell service in the interior of the parks, too.




Now my kids are 22 and 23.  They work and can’t just take off like they used to.  Where did the time go?


I know many of you still have young kids and will be planning summer holidays.  What will you do with your family this year? Should they do summer school and keep their grades up?  Attend a day camp since you are working?  Or are they old enough to be allowed to roam around freely for the first time?


Of course there is no “right” answer.  Every family has various considerations to make, but as you are planning your summer, you might want to consider the fact that today’s children are more stressed than ever, and part of that comes from being over scheduled.  There is constantly a bus to catch, a lesson that is starting or some other time-dependant activity.  Children have lost time outdoors in nature and in unstructured play.  That may be just roaming in the safety of your own fenced-in back yard, or playing with buckets of sand on the beach, but as you plan what your summer will look like, ask yourself if it includes doing very little?  Does it have time gaps for spontaneity and boredom to naturally occur?  Yes, that right, boredom! Check out my video if you need to know how to respond to your child’s “I am bored” complaint.


This summer, de-compress your kids.  Rejuvenate their attachments to nature and allow their creative selves space to develop organically.  It’s gonna be “sloooooow” good.

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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