I am pulled between the past and Pinterest.
The summers of my youth were spent unscheduled, unregulated, uneventful– making berry potions in the back yard, jumping on the tramp, meeting my friend half way between our houses, playing kickball on the neighbor’s yard, laying out with a squirt bottle or playing softball at the ball park. It was lazy and wonderful.
But I get on Pinterest and see things like “100 Things to Do with your Kids this Summer” from www.sixsisters.com with everything from a ‘PVC pipe kid wash’ to a ‘drive-in-movie in cardboard cars’. And although I am exhausted just reading the list, I do think “How fun! I should try that!”
I am pretty sure my mom didn’t do this kind of stuff with us when we were kids. I don’t remember my mom doing crafts with us, entertaining us or taking us on all kinds of excursions. I am pretty sure your mom didn’t either. And we all turned out alright, didn’t we? (Didn’t we?) We were left to explore, wander, create and innovate on our own.
Then I start wondering what kind of adults these kids with pinterest moms will end up being? Will they be extra creative, fun, energetic, adventurous and happy because they were exposed to so much and had such great, fun examples or will these kids be entitled, expecting snots that are bored at school, church, and home unless there are bells and whistles going off? Or will they be lost if mom isn’t right there telling them what she has planned next?
Then I started thinking about why summers are so different than the past and why moms feel the pressure to do so much more.
There are many reasons, everything from ego to resources to technology, but I think the heart of the difference lies in safety. We don’t feel as safe as our moms did. They could let us explore, wander and innovate. They didn’t have to know where we were until dinner time. We could be left to ourselves all day and the worst we might discover is Luke and Laura making out on General Hospital.
But if we left our kids to roam all day there are many more real dangers that they could come across. There are porno pop-ups on the computer, violent video games, and creepy neighbors. There are busier roads and unhealthier foods. So we moms plan and entertain our children as a way of protecting them or attempting to control what they are exposed to. We try to keep them busy to keep them out of trouble and to keep them focused in a good direction.
I see both sides. So how am I going to reconcile the past and Pinterest this summer? How can I bring both worlds together?
I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
So I have some scheduled Pinterest times where I am going to entertain with events like Cousin Camp and End of Summer Party or with themed week days like Munchie Mondays and 5K Fridays. I will be involved; they will be planned; they will be fun; I might even pin them.
But I also have some boring, unplanned, do whatever you can come up with, times.
Like yesterday, when cousins played together and made a giant fort.
And I made coconut chocolate chip cookies.
There was no theme, no plan, no schedule, no elaborate supplies needed. And we didn’t go anywhere.
So I guess my solution, along with your fun outings and bucket list items, is allow time for the past.
Even if we have to plan it. Call it “Whatever Wednesday” or “Throwback Thursday” or “Mom’s Off Monday” but let’s give our kids and ourselves some downtime this summer to step back into the past. Just run through a sprinkler, not a PVC pipe kid wash. Just watch a movie on your couch, not in a card board box designed as a car or on an inflatable outdoor screen. Just round up some neighbor kids for night games- not for a themed, decorated, RSVP, all out party.
Or just pad each day with down time where the kids have to entertain themselves–where they are not under our direction and our creativity. Maybe it’s for a couple hours after dinner or quiet time in the afternoon. Time where they can be free to explore, wander, create and innovate.
Just like we did when we were kids.