For a Slow Summer Together : Say No


“Sorry, we can’t.” is a phrase I’ve come to love.

With a big family (heck, with a small family too) it seems like there’s always an event or a birthday party or a cool market or a local fair or a playdate or a sleepover or a….. I can feel life pulling at us (in a joyful, playful kind of way) and the next thing I know the calendar is full and we’re driving ourselves crazy trying to do it all.

So going into the summer I decided to get really intentional with our time. My kids are still relatively young- they can play with each other, they still (mostly) enjoy the barn chores and spending time with Mum and Dad. I didn’t want to fill their entire summer up with ‘enrichment’: sports, activities, camps and checklists.

I want to look back in 20 years and remember long, slow and connected days together as a family swimming in the lake, picking strawberries and harvesting from our garden.

So I started saying no. I’ve said no (but thank you!) to playdates, to extra lessons, to summer camps and even trips to the zoo.

And the magical thing is, saying no to one thing means saying yes to another.

Yes to being together as a family of six each and every day,

Yes to sibling love.

Yes to being in and learning from Nature without an agenda.

Yes to growing our own food.

I am acutely aware it’s not always going to be like this (what happened to my baby boy?).

I am so grateful for the moments they have (we have) together right now.

So this summer I’m kindly saying ‘No, thank you’ to the things out there because everything we need is right here.

Note: I completely acknowledge the privilege inherent in this post. We are beyond lucky to even have the option of staying home with our kids for the majority of the summer. But the heart of my message is for all parents. We do have choices when it comes to prioritizing the small amount of time we have together as a family. If one day a week is all you have – saying no to that birthday party and doing something as a family is even more vital. I believe in the power of prioritizing and simplifying to make more room for family, connection and play.

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.