I recently wrote a blog about how we parents tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to create a “perfect” summer for our kids. But what does perfect look like? Who defines “perfect?” Are we terrible parents if we don’t fill our kids’ summer with long beach days, trips to the water park and an epic family vacation? What if your family prefers to stay home and play board games?

I want to tell you a little about the summer of 2012. My now 17-year-old’s favorite summer. Also the summer when she was 7, broke her leg and spent the whole summer in a wheelchair.

After many tears (mostly mine) about how her summer would be ruined, I re-thought what a successful summer could look like.

She loved reading so she decided she wanted to win the school summer reading program (she did), and she happily spent hours in her bed each morning reading. She enjoyed museums so we visited the Getty. She did lots of painting outside on her easel. We switched our very anticipated Hawaii vacation to a city trip to Seattle and Portland, where she loved discovering all the different wheelchair accessible ramps – who knew riding a city bus could be so much fun?

That summer was not filled with the “expected” beach trips, pool days, park visits, etc., but we survived. In fact, we both thrived.

For one thing, ends up neither of us even like the beach.🤷🏻‍♀️

With the “normal” activities for a “successful” summer off the table, we were free to do summer our way. I learned that our family could still have a wonderful break without doing it “traditionally.” And, not only was having all that pressure off of me to “perform” for the summer a huge relief, but it probably added to the success of that particular year as I was a much happier camper.

Sure, we’re still going to do things during the summer we don’t want to do. But there’s a balance. I will occasionally go to the beach if someone really wants me to go with them, or if a friend is holding their birthday party there. But I no longer feel guilty about not enjoying the beach and not making it a regular part of our schedule.

So how do you want to enjoy your summer? What would make YOU happy?

  • Does the thought of taking a “vacation” with the kids make you want to cry? Skip it!
  • Not a fan of sitting on the beach every day? Don’t like the beach at all? Skip it!
  • Feel guilty spending a lot of time at home, but you enjoy it and the kids are happy? Embrace it!
  • Have your kids spent all day in the backyard happily roly poly hunting and you’re starting to feel guilty because you’ve actually had time to read on the couch and haven’t done a planned activity? Ditch the guilt, and embrace the gift of downtime!!

The perfect summer is the one perfect for you. And the fact that a 17-year-old’s favorite summer is the one they spent in a wheelchair should ease any concerns you have about ruining your kids if you don’t have a “traditional” summer. 😊