I have vivid memories of my late ’70s summer childhood: Sun-washed backyard decks and kids hanging out in cut-off jean shorts. Looking back at faded polaroids, there’s a sense of ease, as family and friends enjoy each other’s company. Smiles abound; life seems simple. And that’s exactly what I’d like this summer: a no-frills, ’70s summer.
After this pandemic, I think we're all ready to do things differently — including summer. I want to let my kids run wild and free this summer, untangling from devices and screens. As a college instructor, I feel fortunate to have my summers open, as I know many parents are working. But, I’m hopeful we can all give our kids a slice of old-school summer before life returns to something new in the fall.
This past school year, both of my kids were in some kind of modified educational setting: Our 8-year-old stayed home with remote learning the entire year, and our preschooler was podded up outside of school. It's been a year of success and struggle, sometimes all at once. I’m eyeing summer as the solution to shake off this pandemic year.
Schedule-free summer days
This summer I'm planning on having no solid plans. I don't want to pressure us into a busy and productive summer, which I’ve done before. I'd like there to be no set schedule to follow; my parents didn’t have one in the ’70s, and I’m following suit. I’d like to have a mix on our docket of spontaneous local day trips, places we’ve been holding off on visiting for the past year, annual camping trips and lots of time for lounging.
I see early morning beach visits with toe dips, shell collecting and snacks on a sandy blanket. We'll picnic in our backyard. I envision mornings for light activities (or errands) and relaxing afternoons at home. We'll have the kiddie pool and a hammock out in the backyard, and the kids can roam the street, searching for friends to play with. I want homemade popsicles and lemonade and watermelon on the back porch. At night, I hope for a few sleep-in-the-backyard nights, telling lantern-lit stories in the tent, the cedar trees whispering above.
There will be no day camps this year, partly because I missed the boat (in February!), and also because my daughters are at an age where they can do many outdoor activities on their own. They like to play at the beach, they can swim and they like to go on short hikes, with the promise of a sugary treat at the end. They have been craving outdoor art time, park play and bug catching. We have half-made crafts we’ve never completed, and there’s a fairy garden that needs tending to. They'll have plenty to do.
Soon enough there will be phones and friends and soccer tournaments, so I will enjoy this pause to soak up time with my kids.
Will they be bored? Sure, but I’m willing to take that risk this year, while my children are still young and they still want to be around me. I want to savor this post-pandemic summer. Soon enough there will be phones and friends and soccer tournaments, so I will enjoy this pause to soak up time with my kids.
This past year has been a whirlwind, and I’m ready to seize the summer. If you need me, I’ll be reliving my glorious ’70s childhood summers with my kids, enjoying what we have, before the next chapter is upon us.