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Today's Family Magazine

Summer planning & other new ideas

May 21, 2019 02:22PM
By Stacy Turner

Summer is here, and like many families, mine started planning for summer fun months ago, just to make sure we’d have time during those fleeting days of summer to squeeze everything in.  From vacation bible camp to sports clinics to family vacations, we’ve got to fill in the calendar to plan out our summer.

Before they could write, my kids would share their suggestions, which usually included mini adventures like a trip to the zoo, the beach, or a visit (or five) to a local ice cream shop or simple things like blowing bubbles or making Shrinky Dinks.  When they got older, they’d add items like drive-in movies, amusement park visits, camping trips, and sleepovers.

Few things make me happier than making lists, especially bucket lists of potentially fabulous adventures to have with my family.  I also appreciate list making because my memory stinks, and I need a tangible reminder of what we hope to accomplish, since summer weekends are in short supply.  But while planning our list for summer, I’m reminded to leave some days open to chance, since boredom often leads to some pretty memorable days.  I remember how summers of my youth were pretty entertaining, long before master calendars and bucket lists even existed.

As one of six kids, there was always someone around.  What we lacked in privacy we more than made up for in interesting things to do.  In our big family, it didn’t take much effort to organize a ball game, find someone willing to play a card game, or with plenty of sisters, locate a willing victim for a make over or new hairstyle.

If it rained, we created our own roller skating rink in our basement, playing records and blinking the lights for special effects.  We played card games and board games like Monopoly, until we all learned that mom cheated whether she was the banker or not.  In the days before online shopping existed, and there weren’t a plethora of stores to choose from, we created a game with the Sears catalog where we’d take turns furnishing our dream homes, figuring out how much we’d spend.  It sounds silly now but at the time, it made us feel grown up and important.

If the weather was nice, we’d visit the nearby beach or our neighbor’s pool as often as we could convince an adult to watch us.  If we couldn’t find a willing adult on a hot afternoon, we’d run through the sprinkler or ‘accidentally’ get wet while watering the garden.  We roamed around our neighborhood, since everyone knew each other.  Sometimes, we would ride our bikes to the playground, and these newfound freedoms made us feel like a really big deal, even if we had to take annoying younger siblings with us.  We’d eat most family dinners at a picnic table on the back porch, enjoying the coolness afforded by the giant maple tree that sheltered us from the hot sun.

Our open back yard was a choice spot for kickball, or games like spud and running bases.  We had epic rounds of hide and seek with neighborhood kids after dark, commiserating about mosquito bites or getting clothes-lined by unseen saplings while avoiding the glow from porch lights.  We had backyard campouts and caught lighting bugs.  I don’t remember many planned activities in those days, other than a summer softball league.  I remember being very disgruntled when interrupted from whatever we had to stop doing in order for mom to shuttle three of us to our prospective softball fields for games.

While summertime and bucket lists seem to go hand in hand these days, be sure to make time to do nothing.  And maybe, what you end up doing on those unplanned days will be your most memorable days of summer.