Summer Overload Syndrome hit our family the year Ashley turned 9. Normally an early riser, she suddenly didn't want to get out of bed one morning, begging, "Mom, can I please be sick today? I just want to stay home and do nothing."
That same week my friend's fourth-grader asked when school was going to start. "I can't believe Matt's already tired of summer," Shelly said. "I've worked so hard to make sure he doesn't have a dull moment."
You know, maybe dull moments aren't so bad after all. Summer is filled with activities—day camps, little league, swim teams, Vacation Bible School—but there's a limit to how much "fun" your kids can handle. While each of these activities may be beneficial, too many can lead to Summer Overload Syndrome. It's important that we allow ample time during the summer months for our children to be free—to create, to play quietly, to think, to experience—and to be bored! Interestingly, when kids are bored, they are forced to discover for themselves new ways to fill their time. I doubt that many great inventions, musical compositions and books were created when someone was overly stimulated and entertained by others. Rather, true inspiration comes when we are reflective, pensive and possibly even bored.
With a little careful planning and these practical tips, you can rescue your family from Summer Overload Syndrome.
Choose only one big activity each month. For example, take swimming lessons or enroll in a day camp in July. In August, enjoy a family vacation. By cramming each month with too many activities, we run the risk of overwhelming our children and reduce the chance for growth and creativity.1