Every year around this time I take out a calendar and stare dumbly at the empty weeks between the end of the school year in June and its starting date in September. Just who is this super long vacation supposed to benefit? Certainly not the parents who, after going bankrupt to send their little angels to camp, discover that there are still 4 weeks of “vacation” time remaining.

And not even the kids who, after two days of sleeping in and a few too many rounds of “no more pencils, no more books…” discover an amazing fact: they are bored. They actually miss the structured days. They even miss the learning, although I dare you to get them to acknowledge it.

No one – parents, teachers, students – wants the children to forget everything they’ve learned and no one wants them to learn unending without a break. But how about a significantly smaller one?! We are not an agrarian society any more and very few of our children are needed to work the fields.

It’s really out of consideration for my children and not from a purely selfish perspective that I’d like to see the current schedule revised (really).

However, since my prayers have gone unanswered, I need to make the best of things. There are those who enjoy the unstructured and days of summer, those who appreciate the lack of order, the lack of routine, the lack of strict waking times and bedtimes, the fact that there are no demands and nothing to accomplish. I am not one of those people. I like order, routine, structure – and some time to myself! But, whatever your personality type, summertime is an opportunity (I’m just racking my brains to figure out exactly what it is!).

Besides the obvious family time, summer definitely seems to move at a different pace, sort of in slow motion. It really is a time to “stop and smell the roses.”

And even though part of the challenge is that, while our children may be on vacation from school, we are not on vacation from our own jobs, we can frequently take it down a notch, push a little less hard, come home a little earlier.

Everything just seems to move at a more at a more relaxed tempo. Evenings are stretched out with the daylight and there’s no rush to bed. This allows us to savor the moment instead of screaming “Brush your teeth and get into bed now!”

Part of the frustration in parenting stems from the need to get so many things done in such a short time – dinner, homework, baths and bed, for example – but in the summer, that pressure is removed and we can step back and catch our breath. We can exhale slowly.

Additionally our time together is much more stress-free. There is no agenda, just the chance to enjoy.

In fact, now that I think about it, the opportunity of summer of spending time appreciating each moment is something to be intensely grateful for, something not to wish away.

I think I’ll probably be singing a new song in September when they head back to school. I’ll probably have the “Oh darn, school has started again” blues.