Here in the US, Memorial Day has come and gone, the days are getting longer, the nights are sweet and warm, and our thoughts turn to summer. Yesterday I spent the day with family on the lake in our kayaks. You might be imagining a vigorous day of paddling, and that can be fun sometimes too, but we had more important things to do; we needed to gather together, relax, bob up and down on the waves, watch puffy white clouds drift across the sky, smile at the pair of nesting geese venturing out with their six goslings in tow, to be outdoors and unencumbered by any specific tasks or projects.
This kind of “doing nothing” activates what neuroscientists call the Default Mode Network (DMN), a complex set of interconnections in our brains where we process how we think about ourselves and others, how we understand the past and plan for the future. Although we still have much to learn about how the DMN works, we are beginning to grasp how vital it is to our health and wellbeing.
As the summer begins, let’s set aside plenty of time to do a whole lot of nothing. Our kids (and their parents!) need this more than ever after the intense year of disruption and uncertainty we’ve all gone through. While you may be worried that your child has fallen behind in school and needs to work hard this summer to catch up, please remember it’s also critical to help our kids step away from their academics, their organized sports, and their digital world and step into the world of daydreams and lazy, boring afternoons. Something magical and immensely important happens when we take time to do nothing.
Here’s to the good ole days of summer!
Anne and Calvert
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