Putting break back in summer

Summer is here, and for many of us that means accomplishing all those things that just have to wait for warmer weather.

The majority of us likely have places we’ve wanted to go, tasks we’ve wanted to accomplish, but just couldn’t because we live in a state that isn’t warm year-round.

I’m not complaining about our state by any means. We live in a beautiful area of the country that actually has a variety of seasons to enjoy, with vast differences between them.

I love the area we live in.

If you’ve ever experienced fall in Western New York, then you know as well as I do that it somehow makes all the cold and rain and blizzards worth it. Almost charming, at times.

Please don’t send me hate mail for that comment.

Back to our talk of summer. It’s a great time for water parks, days at the beach, the zoo, picnics, parties, hiking, bike rides and everything in between like spending all of our time enjoying the warmer weather and getting more time to spend with your kids.

How often do we actually stop to take a break, though?

I’m as guilty of not resting as most moms these days. There’s often that nagging thought of, ‘Am I doing enough with and for my kids?’ or, ‘am I giving them enough opportunity?’

Then there’s the added pressure of social media. Don’t even pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

All these pictures of families on summer vacations, visiting all the hot spots or doing something cool every single day of vacation. Doing all of the ‘extra’ things there are to do these days.

That, my friends, is where the temptation to compare yourself with others comes in.

Don’t take that opportunity.

Do take the opportunity to rest and spend actual, quality time with your children. While you’re at it, find someone you trust who can take them for a little bit while you take care of yourself.

Moms can’t pour from an empty cup. Dads can’t either.

Parents who are rested make for better parents.

Don’t run yourself so hard for your kids that you are no longer able to enjoy that time with your kids.

I’m preaching to myself here too, friends. This has been a hard lesson for me to take. I’ve run myself so hard that I end up sick, just because I got into the mindset that I didn’t have time to rest, and that this is what being a mom is like.

Parents — you don’t have time not to rest.

Half of the things that you think you need to do are not things you actually need to do.

Stop and smell the flowers, as they say.

Stop running around looking for fascinating things to do when your kids just want you to play legos or play-doh with them, push them on the backyard swing or maybe read them a book.

Raising kids in this generation has become far more complicated than it needs to be. We have health monitors and gadgets of every sort, designed with the mindset of helping you to notice things about your kids, when all you really need to do is pay attention to them.

We now have workbooks to get one and two-year olds ready for preschool, and STEM kits to ensure our kids get an early jump on the love of science, technology and math.

Some of those gadgets are very helpful, don’t get me wrong. I just can’t help but wonder if all of these things are distracting us from what childhood really is.

STEM kits are awesome, and I love teaching science to my kids, but couldn’t we do some of this in a creek? Touching real things, without having to constantly look at directions on a smart phone or something else that can distract?

Again, all these things have their time and place, but let your kids have a break, too.

Their brains need to play. It is crucial to their development, just like boredom is.

We need to have times of doing nothing, having down-time. Just like Pooh Bear says, ‘Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.’

Let those sort of memories happen, let your kids be kids, and let yourself be the best parent you can be without feeling the need to compete against other parents, or bend over backwards to get every single experience in.

Life and summer vacation are not competitions. They are meant to be enjoyed, and so is parenting.

Enjoy summer while it lasts and enjoy your kids while they’re still your kids.

As always, thanks for reading, and happy summer from hbk!

Katy Wise is a Fredonia resident.