Create a Sunny Day Rule

It's the Monday after the Fourth of July. I'm up early. Birds are singing. The dawn sun is blazing. It's going to be a sunny, summer day. A summer day in the truest sense, because my three boys are home from school. No buses to catch, no daypacks filled with books. They can sleep until they wake up.

Chris, my youngest, will wake first, trundle downstairs in his boxer shorts, pee, and scratch himself, wondering what to do in the quiet house. His first instinct will be to go to the family room and turn on the TV.

But there it will be: Daddy's homemade sign, taped to the set.

No TV today.
Sunny Day Rule.

He'll grumble and look around. And for a few minutes, he won't know what to do with himself. But then he'll either pick up a toy, grab a book, or dress himself and think about calling friends to play.

I established the Sunny Day Rule early in my children's lives. And even though it causes dissension and complaining at first, I'm serious about it. If it's raining and cold outside, they know I'm no Captain Bligh. I'll let them watch TV. But if it's a beautiful day, there's no excuse for growing roots on the sofas. Outside with you, I tell them. Go! Go build something! Go swimming! Go ride your bikes!

Better yet, go make yourself breakfast.

Ever heard of myelin? Myelin is a gel-like substance that grows along brain cells when learning takes place. Imagine dipping a fishing net in jelly. That's how a memory for life, or better yet, call it a mastery, appears in the neural networks of our brains. That's how something a child has learned to do, or experienced, is stored.

Children's brains contain 10,000 miles of neural network for every cubic inch of cortex. That's a lot of potential real estate in which to install knowledge. So, at least in our house, we invoke the Sunny Day Rule for summertime because our children's chances of myelinating fresh neural nets soars every time we put that sign on the TV. There's so much incredible potential there. No sense having it flicker at some dim level for hours on end, while the sun shines bright outside.

But what will I think up for my child to do, you ask? That's the whole point. Don't bother thinking up anything. Let your child do it. In this case, doing less is really doing a whole lot more.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks