As the end of March nears, I'd estimate that we've received about 157 different brochures, booklets, emails and flyers on all the different opportunities to spend money  I mean "enrich" our children's lives this summer.

From accelerated sports training to remedial academic classes, it's quite possible to have an even busier summer than school year for the small price of a second mortgage.

Gone are the days of summer freedom, the way I grew up, when we'd run amok through the neighborhood, barefoot to a neighbor lady's dismay, eating popsicles and dirt and we knew it was time to go in because it was either getting dark outside or we heard our parents roar from the front step of our house. As we got older, our neighborhood boundaries grew and we'd hop on our bikes to the DQ or the local library or even the old mostly empty Apache mall.

This wasn't just a suburban kid's dream. I lived just a few minutes from downtown and this was summer. 

I laugh because just this last week my newsfeed on Facebook was full of stories and articles about the "good ol' days" where our moms drank Tab soda and we were sent out to play. The comments are all the same as we all reminisce the same innocent childhood filled with bike rides and running through the sprinklers and plain old fun. 

And then just as soon as we click share, comment and x right out of that, we're on another website to sign up our kid for this or that or the other thing. {I can't possibly be the only guilty one here.}

Can we please stop reminiscing the good old days and just do it? Can we just remind ourselves and each other that we're really in charge of what our kids' summer looks like or doesn't look like? It's not bad to sign up for soccer or Bible camp or some academic fun if that's where they're in to and your family schedule allows but don't become a slave to your childs' schedule at age 6. 

I get the pressures of today. There is this panic among us that perhaps if we skip out on an organized sport one summer or a tutoring opportunity or extracurricular class that our kids and we will miss out. But for most of us, that's just not the case. It's up to us to find the balance for our kids. 

A wise friend once told me that for every yes we say when it comes to our time, we are saying no somewhere else. I have applied this to my personal and professional life about 15 times since I first heard it and have decided to apply it to my kids' schedules too. Every yes means no somewhere else whether that's financial- or time-wise. 

So as you start scheduling your summer activities, make sure you're saying yes to the things you want to matter most. Maybe that is twice a week soccer or an intensive hockey clinic or remedial reading, all good things. Or maybe that's a combination of picking and choosing activities and down time so that you can go to the beach or eat ice cream for dinner. Or maybe it's tossing out all the "what you SHOULD do this summers" and doing what you WANT to do this summer. 

Whatever it is, and I'd argue it's likely different for each family, make sure your yes counts and don't be afraid to say no when it doesn't.

How do you schedule summer activities for your family?

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