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.

Frank Vascellaro

Comments (8)
  1. Sarah in Outstate MN says:

    I have my kids in softball, swimming lessons, tennis and golf this summer, in addition to camp. I’d rather be busy so they get exercise and fresh air than do nothing. The Summer Park and Rec in my little town is really cheap.

    1. Some Dude says:

      That’s great if it works for you, but remember just because kids are not in a bunch of activities does not mean that will not be getting any exercise. I remember just making up games during the summer and all the neighborhood kids would play. Sometimes we’d just bike around in circles. Still exercise, but no feeling of being rushed.

      1. Sarah says:

        Some dude, I assure you my kids bike around in circles plenty. I loved doing that as kid myself. Swim lessons are only 2 weeks per summer, camp is only 1 weekend per summer and Golf lessons are on Friday mornings for 2 hours only and Tennis lessons are 2 days per week for 1 hour in the mornings. Most of the time my kids sit outside talking to themselves or are busy climbing trees. Dang, those things sound fun!

  2. Jack says:

    What the article fails to mention is that some parents over-schedule their kids with activities as a means to keep them out of their hair. The activities are a baby-sitter. Sorry, but it’s the truth. I see, and hear, it from parents all the time.

    Then you have the kids who rule the parents with their self-entitled attitudes. Parent’s haven’t taught them the meaning of hard-earned dollar and what hard times are. So, the kids demand activities, video games, etc.,

    Most kids today don’t know how to stay home, play with siblings and neighborhood friends. That’s too “boring.” It’s sad because they don’t know how much they’re actually missing out on.

    Kids, like adults, are rush, rush, rush, hurry, hurry, hurry, busy, busy, busy.

    1. Jack says:

      On a positive note, I forgot to mention that I applaud the parents who are taking a step back to think and re-group, saying, “This doesn’t feel right.” Those who are planning activities WITH their kids and not separate FROM them. Kids are not little adults with separate lives. If your child needs their own car/chauffeur for all the outside activities they have going on, maybe it’s time to take a step back yourself and re-think what’s going on.

  3. Lisa J says:

    A little benign neglect is good for kids! It helps them run into problems “with people” around the neighborhood & become good problem solvers like we want our kids to be. Let kids be kids & stop competing w/ the Jones next door with camps, toys, electronics & who can indulge the best/most. Your kids will be just fine with less to do. Hey, they may even learn how to deal with boredom….what a gift!!!

  4. M B says:

    While I have no medical proof, I feel that all this rush, rush, rush, and changing activities creates/reinforces ADHD behavior.

    It’s good that we want to take a step back and reevaluate this “gotta run at all costs” mentality.

    Leaving kids with free time to imagine games/activities on their own can encourage creativity. Hopefully the parents raised the kids right so that isn’t directed as mischief.