I was so lucky growing up. My mom worked from home, so my summer vacations as a kid were really relaxing. I would spend hours on our deck reading the books I chose at our local library, biking to and from our friends houses, and swimming in the lake.
Do you remember the excitement you felt at the end of the summer and you were excited to buy your new supplies and see your friends that you haven’t seen in a while? That’s when you knew that your vacation actually did you good - you looked forward to going back to routine.
Now-a-days, because most families have both parents that are at work, daycare, day camp and sleepaway camp is more the norm. But it’s not only the summer months that can be of concern. Because I work with preschool aged children and volunteer at the school-aged level, I often see parents use their entire vacation time away or simply staying at home while children continuously follow their routine of being at daycare.
I completely get it. I am one of those parents that will turn on Paw Patrol just to get in a few minutes of silence so I can drink my coffee in peace, or put a meal together. I am with 2-10 children from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep at the end of the day, so the thought of having a weekend or week away just me and my husband with zero kids is a dream of mine. However, in a society that is seeing more anxiety, stress disorders and depression than ever before, kids are feeling it too! Not only do they have an innate sense of their parent’s stress - they have their own stressors too.
Yes - it’s hard to imagine. For example, I have often heard in parent-educator meetings: “What does he have to be worried about? He’s three!” Well, a lot actually. We as adults have adult size worries, and a three year old has toddler worries, and each set of worries can have the same impact on each person's health.
Have you ever been to a child’s birthday party? Can you imagine sitting at your desk while a birthday party with 8-10 children is happening in your cubicle? Five days a week? That’s the energy that a child experiences in an early childhood classroom - 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week. It can be overwhelming.
For fun, let’s put ourselves in a toddler’s shoes and compare their possible stresses during day to an adult’s stress-filled day at the office:
And these are just a toddler's worries. Can you imagine adding homework, tests, bullies, sports, extra curricular on the elementary and high school levels? AND add in that these are just minor stresses and not something life-altering like divorce, abuse, loss, poverty...
I feel like it is part of my parenting duty to model and provide ways for my kids to learn how to relax and have fun while being away from their rigorous routine at school and daycare. Even if we aren't able to afford a luxurious vacation every year, I started this blog to encourage myself, and maybe others, to take that break and make it work with what little money and time we have - even if it is just to sit at home watching TV in our PJs. For my children to be relaxed and happy and enjoying what this life has to offer, I have to do the same and be their guide.
Melissa is a mom, wife, and early childhood educator who blogs about her journey looking for new experiences for family time.