Remember the ‘70s? Not the weather, the decade.
I recently came upon an article outlining the Top 10 Ways to give your kids a 1970’s summer. The notion and highlights of this article I thought were brilliant. So I immediately shared it on my personal Facebook page.
Summer has arrived, after all, and with it comes the soon to be bored little guy, tween or teen. It all just happens so fast.
As friends shared their appreciation for this simplistic, yet memory making list I realized a large portion of them do not indeed remember the ‘70s. Without giving away my age, I can honestly say, I do remember the ‘70s. More specifically I remember the summers of the ‘70s. The music my mom would play, the places and family we would visit and the down time … yes, the endless downtime.
The best memories were in the downtime. The hours I was left to my own devices to “keep myself busy” or “entertain yourself.” Remember those days?
The reality is, a large number of parents today may not have those fond memories or worse yet, they may but have chosen to taken a different route. Most of us were raised with the notion of building a better life for our children than we had. Those are good and honorable intentions.
My quandary however happens when I come to reflect and notice that somehow we have translated that to be about things and busyness. Stillness seems most absent with our current upbringing of children than ever before.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, stillness is a struggle for myself as well and one I am learning to embrace. Sitting with a book and a cup of coffee at the start of the day or day’s end has become more commonplace for me as of late. Children learn what they see and if we spend the better part of our days, weeks and months bouncing about like a person set on fire, they too will model that.
Summer is a time for chillness, lazy lounging and freedom. Reread that and think on it a minute as an adult. How much would you love to return to that time in your life? One of “chillness, lazy lounging and freedom” ... please, sign me up.
Yes, I also know the argument, keeping them busy keeps them out of trouble. This in my opinion is a fine line. It is not in the busyness but in the engagement and awareness with our children that we make the most progress. Rest assured I know plenty of parent-proclaimed “busy” kids who manage to find their way to trouble.
How about do us all a favor and find the balance between allowing them some freedom/creativity and grabbing some planned memories as well. Let’s face it, in time they will need to learn to be self-fulfilling, independent humans. Their employer will not guide them on what to do with their down time. Their college professor will not give them a packet on how to manage their summer break, they will need to know how to chill on their own. Filling their break with playdates, to do lists and a packed calendar of ‘fun’ is about as anti-chill as we can get.
So here’s some ideas from the list, which inspired this column: make them play outside; let them watch TV; eat whatever you want, and or can find; send them to the movies for the entire day; send them to a best friend’s for a sleep over; make stuff; host a talent show; play games; build a fort inside or out and lastly, find the amazing in the ordinary.
Just one week in and a few pajama days behind us, I’m happy to say my daughter has already completed one all on her own and with no encouragement from her mom. She’s a kid. Kids know how to have fun, if we just give them the space to do so. Welcome to the ‘70s.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.