It’s finally summer – no more backpacks, homework or school projects! There is something about the freedom of summer that always takes me back to my own childhood. Windows down while driving the car, the smell of fresh cut grass, backyard cookouts… the feeling of longer and less hectic days.
Back then my parents both had their unique approach to getting us outside to play. Saying the phrase “I’m bored” to my mom was only going to earn me more chores or getting an “I’m sure I can find you something to do around the house” kind of project. She suggested we fill our time with bike rides, lemonade stands and running through the sprinkler. Without cell phones, laptops and iPads we actually read books and jumped rope for fun. My dad had a less subtle manner of getting me out of the house on a summer day. “Go outside!” he would say. “Do something – anything! Play in the traffic if you have to. Just get outside!” He was kidding about playing in traffic of course, put his point was taken.
Being an unplugged generation back in the 1970’s meant we had to make our own fun. We didn’t Google or text about what we were going to do and didn’t Facebook or Instagram about what we were doing while we were doing it. There is an old saying that I love: “Dance like no one is watching.” There is a new twist on that saying now: “Dance like no one is watching. Because they aren’t. They’re all on their cell phones.”
Two summers ago I decided to change the way our family did summer since during the first week all I could hear were my kids’ phones dinging from message alerts. I wanted my children to have that carefree feeling of the season that I felt growing up. So, I presented my girls with my plan to unplug from their devices. Much to my surprise, they felt relieved. I had given them permission to let go of this burden, and what unfolded was magic. My second grader decided she wanted to learn how to make jam from fresh strawberries, much like how my grandmother had taught me. My middle school daughter said she wanted to ride her bike every day and wash our cars. Washing cars turned into water fights and water slides made from the tarp we had in the garage. My oldest daughter learned how to bake. She tried different recipes and even made up some of her own. All of their endeavors overlapped and it was a wonderful thing for me to witness.
This summer I hope you’ll appreciate the freedom you have with your children during these few precious months. See what opportunities can arise if you “unplug” from your devices for awhile. You may be surprised to discover that the joys of summer you experienced as a child are the same ones that delight your kids.