As many you probably know, I grew up in the country and I have many fond memories of summers spent almost entirely outside with my older brother. We made forts and caught tadpoles and explored ever corner of my parent’s 40 acres. We’d spend the entire day playing in the woods, tromping through the fields, eating wild apples or gooseberries or blackberries (depending on the season) and taming the barn cats (some of which I am fairly certain were actually wildcats). My brother and I only returned to the house when we heard the old iron dinner bell ringing off in the distance. We’d race the dogs back to the house, and show up dirty, sunburnt, grinning and out of breath to sit down together to eat a homemade meal. It was the best.
But, I recognize that even though I’m not that old things are still vastly different for kids today than it was. We only had one TV with any channels (which was always off during the day) and one shared computer that was mostly for my father’s work. My brother had a Nintendo, but we were only allowed an hour a day on it. The rest of the time was for playing outside or reading a book or climbing trees. Today, kids have way more technological distractions than ever, but I think that only makes having an old fashioned summer like you and I remember even more important.
So, if you are looking for some ways to get your kids away from screens and out in the big, wide world, here are some tips:
1. Limit time with electronics
I think this is probably the biggest thing today. If you find your kids sitting in their respective rooms staring at a screen, make them turn the devices off and go outside. Or, at the least, do something else. They might whine for a bit, but leave them be and they’ll find something to do. Probably with each other, which is really how the best old-fashioned summer memories are made!
2. Let them have free time
I love Pinterest and crafts and the idea of educating kids, but it’s just as important to do all those things as it is to give your kids time to do whatever they want. Summers are supposed to be about having fun and relaxing. Instead of signing up for a million camps and organizing a million activities, let yourself relax a little and let your kids find their own things to do. If they complain about being bored, find them something not as fun to do like cleaning or doing the dishes. They’ll quickly learn that it’s a better idea to just entertain themselves.
3. Don’t hover
For me, part of what made those summers the best was the independence and freedom. We were masters of our own domain and we could do whatever we wanted to. Depending on where you live, letting your kids just wander on their own might not be safe, but try your best not to hover.
If you live in the city, take them to the park or pool and let them explore and play while you read a relax. Let them discover things and learn to solve problems and get along without adults interfering. Just be sure to be available if something major happens.
4. Encourage kids to explore
Send your kids outside whenever the weather is nice. Give them some old sheets to build a fort or buy some balloons for a water balloon fight. Whatever your style is, just be sure to get them out in the real world where they can explore and experience life outside of screens and electricity. Those really are the best memories, and they’ll build skills that they will take with them throughout life.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
It can be hard, but remember that your kids are a little smarter and hardier than you give them credit for. Don’t feel like you need to baby them for every fall and don’t try and organize something for them to constantly be doing. Old-fashioned summers are all about discovering who you are, relaxing and having fun!
Do you have any tips for helping kids have a more old-fashioned summer? Share with me in the comments!