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Summertime: Playin’ It Cool When The Weather Is Hot by Colleen Lindstrom

As a young person, my memories of summer are of easy times. Long days, sunshine, popsicles, and jelly shoes. I can still hear the sound of my big wheel barreling down the sidewalks of the great big hill we lived on. I can feel the sting of skinned knees. I can smell the burgers on the grill. I can hear the familiar zap of the bug light as it ate up ANOTHER mosquito (thank you). I can feel the ease of those lazy days (back when “lazy” meant running yourself ragged in the neighborhood and coming back with dirt in all the wrong places, too tired for a bath. And really, what would be the point?), and it soothes my soul. That was then…

This is now: I know the familiar click of the chinstrap of my children’s bike helmet as I send them away to carefully pedal no fewer than 2 feet ahead of me at all times (“I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SEE YOU. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW QUICKLY A CAR COULD COME FLYING OUT OF THAT DRIVEWAY!”). I can hear the screams of my kids, each one of them panicking at the sight of the Bactine as I come at them to spray down their dirty bleeding knees (“No, really, this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you.”). I want to cry at the realization that everyone’s hungry and the beef for the burger patties is not yet thawed, (and the consequent praying that there will be enough propane to get through this meal, dear God.). With the ears of a dog, I can hear the slap slap slapping of another mosquito meeting its fate with a good old-fashioned hand (what ever happened to the bug lights?). The point is, being a parent brings a whole new feeling to summer. Responsibility plays some cruel, cruel tricks. My relaxing happens after 8 o’clock, when I am lulled by the hum of three little snores, worn out from a day of running in circles, and lungs full of fresh air.  Hopefully those three little snoring babes never knew about the chaos of my mommy moments, and their memories of Summer living will be more consistent with mine at their age.

As a mom, the responsibility to keep our children adequately occupied balanced with the perfect amount of leisure time (read: free play) is of the utmost importance.  It is important that they continue to be enriched during the summer months, so that the skills and abilities that they gained during the school year do not atrophy. It’s equally important for them to feel like they have had the experience of freedom that only summer can lend, and only while they are young. Loose structure is the name of the game at our house. Just enough activities balanced with just enough “hanging out and watching the grass grow.” Like a finely tuned old family recipe, a handful of this, and a pinch of that. We’re cooking up memories around here.

As you’re planning for summer, what are your goals for your family?

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