Remember old school summers when we were kids? You know, back in the 80s and 90s? The freedom felt exhilarating. We ran between the lawns of all the neighbors and through everyone’s sprinklers.
We pool-hopped and sprinted to our curbs when he heard the ice cream man. At night, we pranced through the yard holding mason jars in our hands trying to catch fireflies. And you know what common denominator is missing from all of these equations?
You’d think that if parents today parented like ours did back in the day, they’d be considered “free-range parents.”
I mean, when we were kids, our parents didn’t monitor our every move. Instead, our moms lathered baby oil on their bodies and laid out on the back porch drinking TAB for crying out loud. Our dads came home to grab a beer and slap the burgers on the grill.
Parents didn’t orchestrate our summers full of camps, activities, and playdates. We had an old school summer. They left it to us to figure it out and that’s exactly how I strive to parent my kids in the summer, too. Call it “free-range,” call it lazy parenting—either way, I strive to give my children this same simplicity.
Last summer, for example, I enrolled my children in zero camps or activities.
At ages 4 and 6, I felt it was totally unnecessary. And this year, at 5 and 7, I’ll do the same. Sure, I could sign my son up for a soccer camp and my daughter for that extra dance clinic. You know, to polish up those skills and give them the leg up.
But I am less concerned in creating the perfect kid and far more concerned with giving my kids a childhood. And what screams childhood louder than summer?
We’re lucky. We scored some pretty freaking legit neighbors. Their mother and I share the same belief in the magic of summer for our kids, too.
We both just back off and let them run between the yards morning, day, and night.
It’s not unheard of that my kids will be knocking on their door by 8 am still in their pajamas, or vice versa. They watch morning cartoons together and even eat breakfast together from time to time, too. During the day, my kids hop in their pool and theirs slide up and down our giant blowup water slide. We stock up on popsicles and the kids inhale them before they melt on the sidewalk.
When they’re over all of the water activities, they play baseball or soccer in the yards. They ride bikes, play tag, jump rope, and other things that we did when we were kids of the 80s and 90s.
My children truly love the freedom of an old school summer. They don’t need me overscheduling them with activities—that’s what it was like during the school year.
I’ve found that my kids are over it all: school, homework, sports, and other extracurriculars. They need a damn break. And I am more than happy to gift that to them. Because honestly, I need one too.
When my kids are out galivanting in the sun all day, I’m not sitting there drinking my TAB or catching some rays. I can finally get some work done and even start a new project around the house.
Between jobs, my favorite thing to do is catch a glimpse of my kids through the window. Their smiles fill me. Their only care in the world is to enjoy whatever summer-filled moment they’re in. So, I’ll continue to give my kids this 80s summer as long as I can—even if some think that I’m a “free-range” parent.