Summer Challenge for Kids and Adults

Summer Challenge for Kids and Adults
Enjoy the beauty of an overgrown summer garden.

While the September 22, 2012 autumnal equinox is still weeks away, the deluge of Back to School advertisements signal the contrary to those of us with school-aged children. Whether we like it or not, our summer ends when the new school year begins.

As the self-appointed Queen of Schedules and Goddess of Routine, alas, I must admit to you that this summer I failed. Or did I?

My children's sweet plaintive cries for relaxation got to me. My inner-slacker rejoiced at the possibility of blank calendar squares, little white boxes of unclaimed possibility.

While the children slept until noon, I basked in uninterrupted morning coffee and twitter time.

While they roamed the neighborhood for summer adventure, I lounged with the puppy and read romance novels.

Until . . . my family calendar app notified me that it was August!

And I panicked at the upcoming loss of summer. So, I did what I always do: I made lists.

I created columns of smart little soldiers, lines of token summer activities to cross off of the master list. I scheduled trips to the zoos, theme parks, water parks, etc.

And suddenly those little white boxes of unclaimed possibility disappeared.

Why did I feel the overwhelming need to plan a frenzied whirlwind of activity? What purpose would an over-scheduled August serve? (Contributing author, Brandi Lee, wrote Overscheduling: Defeating the Purpose of Summer. In her post, Brandi brilliantly sums up the overscheduled summer conundrum.)

If I'm honest, I dread when my kids are asked what they did over the summer; they will say nothing.

Will nothing mean that I failed as a mother? How will their new teachers, the other parents and their peers judge me? Is it even about me?

Did my kids really do nothing all summer?

The snapshot summer photo montage playing in my mind disagrees: the revolving door of sleepovers, bike rides, evening ice cream cones, movies, outside revelry, water balloon fights, campfires . . .  All of the small everyday activities that celebrate summer had carelessly been summed up in that one word, nothing.

I deleted those last minute August activities. No, we would finish summer in the spirit of those lazy summer days. Not only would I allow room for nothing, but I will celebrate that spirit of nothing instead.

I am challenging my family and yours to elevate the small everyday summer things that we too often take for granted.

End of Summer Challenge: Write a daily haiku to celebrate the beauty of summer.

Haiku poetry is an ancient Japanese form of poetry. The Haiku, so deceptively simple in form, consists of only three lines.  The first and third lines of a Haiku have five syllables and the middle line has seven syllables.

Haiku poems are usually written about life's ordinary moments or a season:

Best friends and beach days (5)
My memories of summer (7)
Never fade away (5)

A haiku can be a riddle:

Playfully, I pounce (5)
On anything you dangle (7)
My long whiskers twitch. (5)
(You add What am I?)

Haiku poems can even be silly:

Kool Aid for five cents (5)
Everyday Math at work (7)
Your nickel is mine (5)

I can think of no better homage to the waning days of summer than to capture your memories with a haiku.

This summer, I discovered the inspiring website, is a free online haiku diary. Members create a haiku each day to share with others or keep them in a private online journal, which can be downloaded as a PDF for the member's exclusive use at anytime. Members can also read the constantly changing stream of haiku poems shared by others by sliding an "Inspire Me" button at the top of the screen from Off to On.

Gavin Blowman, the brilliant creator of the website, sums up the beauty of haiku much better than I ever could: "Taking time to reflect on the tiny and often forgotten moments in our daily lives can be cathartic and it's amazing what you can capture when limited to just 17 syllables; it focuses the mind."

I challenge you to take some time after dinner to discuss those summer moments of nothing and create a family collection of haiku poems to celebrate the everyday beauty of summer.

Who will join my challenge?

Gavin Blowman has generously agreed to extend some invitations to Parenting Without A Parachute readers! I will provide the special access information to the first brave people who share their summer haiku poems in the comment section of this blog post.

Post your summer haiku and email it and your email address to

Leave a comment