old fashioned summer
Family Fun,  Motherhood

How to give your kids an old fashioned Summer


Let me start by saying…I get that summer doesn’t look the same for everyone!  Whatever your situation is: you work full time, your kids are at camp or you are at home – the end goal is the same!  Awesome memories for the kids, right?  Don’t feel guilty about what you can or can’t do, just make some memories!  


I loved carefree summer days growing up. I’m sure looking back the days were a little rosier than I thought they were at the time, but there was something magical about summer as a kid. There’s just something about a carefree,  sitting around, lazy type of old fashioned summer day.


Kids don’t get that kind of carefree summer anymore.  There is so much pressure, even for young kids!

We didn’t know what kind of vacation our friends were going on before Instagram and Facebook.   Families went on camping trips or road trips to see Grandma, not all inclusive resort vacations.

Growing up, my parents had six kids.  We didn’t do big vacations. They couldn’t afford camp.  We had no cable (gasp), and obviously the internet wasn’t born yet. After explaining this (or muttering this several times to my kids last summer) – they were shocked.  Whoa, what!!? How did you survive??  What did you do?  No internet?  No cable?  


Parents today feel the pressure too.  We are constantly bombarded with pictures from our friends about their lavish Disney or Resort vacations. We feel like we have to keep with school lessons, plan a detailed summer schedule and participate in so many social activities.  I know as a parent, I feel pressured to make the most of every summer. Am I going to lock up the TV’s and devices this summer? No.  But I do want to be more intentional this summer, get outside more and make more memories that don’t involve money or screens.


I keep seeing that  ” You only get 18 summers with your kids” quote.  Why??  Please don’t make me feel more anxious and stressed about making every moment count and every summer magical.   I love my kids more than anything, but I’m one person.  Like you, I still have housework, my regular job, still have bills to pay.   And guess what? That whole 18 summer thing is BS – My oldest is almost 19 and we still spend plenty of summer together!


I always try to plan fun things and we come up with a summer bucket list as a family and all that.  Making memories as a family is important to me. If that is important to you too, don’t feel the pressure to make everything perfect.  If you think back to your childhood, I’m sure you (mostly) remember the fun parts. Memories like flying paper airplanes with your uncle or making lemonade with your grandmother.  Your kids will remember the fun parts with you too, no Disney vacation or no budget spending sprees necessary.


I decided to talk to fellow old people (and my own kids) about what they loved most about summer.  We came up with a list of fun stuff we did when we were kids.  You know before the internet was a thing. 


  • Shut the electronics down. Even if it is for a short time. Let them be bored, they will find something to do.
  • Ride bikes or scooters up and down the street.
  • Play old fashioned outdoor games. Hula hoops, tag and catch. Race in the front yard. Play baseball, dodge ball and kickball with neighborhood kids.
  • Take walks. Go on a nature walk or walk to the store. Even of you have to wait until the sun goes down, after dinner walks are the best!
  • Watch morning cartoons with cereal in the living room. And then shut the TV off and go outside.
  • Pick flowers and make daisy chains.
  • Find some water. A neighbor’s pool, a blow up one, the public pool…anybody’s pool- and stay the day. If you have a beach, river or swimming hole near you – take the kids and jump in.
  • Find a shady spot and read a book.  
  • Play in the sand and mud. Make rock trails and boats out of leaves. Make mud pies and bouquets of weeds. 
  • Play in the sprinkler! You know – one of those oscillating lawn watering ones that cut your body when you fell on it? (But try not to cut your body please).
  • Make paper airplanes and fly them off a porch or out the window.
  • Make paper chains and gimp key chains.
  • Play marbles, go fish or war with your friends or cousins.
  • Play hopscotch, jacks and jump rope. Bonus if you can remember any jump rope songs.
  • Play hand games.  Remember Old Lady Mac, Mac, Mac.. All dressed in black, black, black?
  • Catch bugs in the yard and put them in recycled jars with air holes. Feed them leaves. 
  • Catch fireflies at night.
  • Have ice cream for dinner. Bonus points if you chase down the ice cream truck.
  • Sit with your kids or have them sit with grandparents or other relatives- go through picture books and listen to their stories.
  • Climb some trees or hide beneath some.
  • Play hide and seek, outside if possible.
  • Collect rocks, flowers, shells.
  • Go fishing. Catch some tadpoles or frogs in a stream with a net.
  • Make popsicles in paper cups. Use OJ, or apple juice.  Make Lemonade in big old pitchers and serve it to your friends.
  • Eat outside whenever possible. Find a picnic table and use it often- even if you have to go to a park.
  • Camp in your back yard or your living room. Sit around and tell stories and sing campfire songs.
  • Do absolutely nothing. Sit outside, listen to the trees and feel the sun on your skin.

What are your plans this summer?  Whatever they are – I hope they are great and you make tons of memories with your kids (while still holding onto your sanity).  🙂

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