Less is more

Is summer drawing to a close?

If the State Fair is nearly here and Target has been selling Crayola products for weeks, I guess it is. 

I ask you, as I do every year, where did it all go? How did it go by so fast?

And isn’t that just the perfect metaphor for parenting?

And then there’s the way that summer ends — a too-soon-in-coming back-to-school season that only reminds us how short the years are. 

I can’t believe I have a … preschooler! Kindergartener! Middle schooler! Teen! High school senior! 

Every summer, I feel pressure to pack it all in before I lose another year, to make the memories while I can in our limited warmth. The festivals. The zoos. The fair. Sports practices and lessons. Playdates. Berry picking. Boating. Camping. Sprinkler time!

In a way, that’s kind of what this month’s magazine is all about: We’ve got back-to-school stories, including one about clothes to swoon over for your kids (they’ll let you dress them only for so long, if ever—trust me), but we’ve also got parent tips for the State Fair and Ren Fest (and even more summer fun in the calendar). We’ve even got birthday party ideas! 

Indeed, this issue is positively PACKED with goodness for parents. It’s definitely pushing a more-is-more vibe, and that’s no accident.

But I think, as parents, we also need to balance our last-gasp-of-summer, do-it-all, bucket-list mindset this time of year with a less-is-more mentality.

Earlier this summer, I was determined to get out on a bike ride with my son. (My thought was: We HAVE TO go on a bike ride. It’s summer! We can’t go all summer with no bike ride!

But just as we were mobilizing to get going, a group of girlfriends invited me to go sit by the outdoor pool at the gym with them. “Just bring your son,” they said. So we dropped everything and went. 

My son didn’t have a friend to play with, so I jumped in the water with him and I swam my heart out. We played catch, did handstands, mastered somersaults and raced. (He did cannonballs.) 

We were just … together.

We splurged on food from the cafe. I talked with my friends a bit while my son played on my phone. 

He and I were in and out of the pool for the better part of four hours. 

It was magical. It was the best part of my summer. 

It was spontaneous and fun.

And it wasn’t even on my summer bucket list!