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Some Parents Scaling Back Summer Activities For Their Kids

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(credit: CBS) Frank Vascellaro
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — School is getting out, the kids are getting ready for summer and if you don’t have them scheduled for 12-straight weeks of camps and activities, don’t worry. As it turns out, you have plenty of company.  And the folks who are doing it, are doing it on purpose.

Remember what summer was like when we were kids?  Fun, sun and even more fun.  But over the years, playing with friends was replaced by camps, classes and athletics.  Which is why some parents are starting to take a step back and cut back, actively avoiding overscheduling.

“A lot of thoughtful parents say stop,” said popular Parenting Blogger Missy Berggren. “They say this doesn’t feel right, there’s too much coming at us.”

She’s a mother of two, who tries to emphasize one-on-one activities with her own kids.

“The Minneapolis sculpture gardens are awesome,” she said.  “We love to go there a lot.  We love to go to Lake Calhoun.  So those nature things are really great for us.”

She’s not alone.  She asked her Facebook fans about their summer plans, and found that most are replacing quantity with quality.

“At least from the parents that are engaging with me,” she said, “there’s a big shift of trying to balance.”

There’s still a place for camps and organized activities, but many are also carving out free time and they are doing it for a reason.

“How can we be intentional about our plans this summer?” she asked.  “So, people are creating bucket lists of things they want to do this summer, before the snow hits, that they can really think about doing those things with their family.”

Lori Wiggenhorn said she has changed her approach.

“I do feel that pressure to have something for them to do. To entertain them,” she said

Her kids had a full slate of activities last summer, but talking about the pressure they felt means it will be different this year.

“They were in a lot of activities last summer and my daughter just said to me ‘Mommy, I want to be home more.  I want to be at home more to play with my friends in the neighborhood.’  So this year, we actively cut out several things,” she said.

And we found those kinds of stories all over the playground.

“I want the kids to have a summer that’s more like the way we did, long ago,” said Anna Botz.

So, she’s dialing it back for her family and carving out more time to spend with her two kids.  Yes, she’s still scheduling some camps and activities, but she’s also scheduling time for, well, anything.

“I just want to take it back a knotch,” she said. “I want to do a lot of fun things, and sometimes fun things are things you do spontaneously.”

Some of the parents who contacted Missy said they’re also cutting back to save money.  Berggren has a list of cheap and free places to take your kids on her blog here.

For the best free activities for families in the Twin Cities, click here.

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