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A 1970s summer is within reach

This is my first summer at home full time with my school-aged children, and so far, I'm loving it more than I even imagined.True, we've tackled hardly any of the projects or schedules I envisioned back in May. The piano has sat untouched. We neve...

Nicole Welle, Parenting Perspectives columnist
Nicole Welle, Parenting Perspectives columnist

This is my first summer at home full time with my school-aged children, and so far, I'm loving it more than I even imagined.

True, we've tackled hardly any of the projects or schedules I envisioned back in May. The piano has sat untouched. We never made that list of art projects or the family trip to the craft store to get our supplies. Homemade popsicles have touched our lips once, and they were deemed far less preferable to the ones from Costco.

I left the spring with plans for a more structured summer mostly out of fear that I would need to entertain my boys, ages 5 and 7. I dreaded hearing "I'm bored!" and endless pleas to watch TV, so I wanted to plan ahead with rainy-day activities and a semblance of structure.

"We'll have so much time together!" I thought, "It's going to be magical."

The truth is, it has been magical, but not for the reasons I thought. Partly this is due to the weather, and I've sent up my prayers of gratitude for the multitude of sunshiny days we've experienced since Memorial Day. But mostly, it's because my boys have gotten to enjoy one of my other childhood dreams: neighborhood friends.

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From the moment they wake at 7 a.m., these boys are dressed and out the door to get on their bikes. (They understand helmets are mandatory, but apparently still think teeth brushing is optional. Priorities.) They eat as many meals outside as possible, from breakfast to dinner. (I'm glad I stocked up on paper plates and plastic silverware that first week.) They are across the street knocking on the neighbor's door to see if the boys can come out and play, and the days are filled with shouts and giggles as the four of them climb trees, play Star Wars, ride endless loops around the block, organize backyard baseball games, and find countless excuses to splash each other in the kiddie pool.

They have legs covered in scrapes and bruises and arms in mosquito bite scars. Their skin has turned a shade of bronze that reminds me of my own childhood days in the sun. I have never seen feet so dirty; shoes only make an appearance when we leave the house, and only then if the destination requires it.

We have done swimming lessons, trips to the library, and weekly baseball and soccer games. We've done impromptu pizza at Island Park and celebratory ice cream cones for graduating out of training wheels. Daily popsicle treats abound (once I got my 3-year-old to stop stealing them from the freezer). There have been movie nights with popcorn, s'mores at the lake, tents in the backyard, and of course a few scheduled appointments and meetings so Mama can get a little work done.

But what has amazed me the most is how little boredom has reared its annoying head. There have been moments here and there when I can see that everyone is in a funk, but even on rainy days, the desire to be outside has overruled most everything else (even the typically endless begging for snacks).

It's been an idyllic summertime experience. It has brought me joy and even made me love my children more, to see them running and laughing and enjoying the simplicity of childhood. When I see the viral posts saying how we need to "give our kids a 1970s summer" again, I just shake my head. Regardless of the decade, everything we need for a perfect summer is within us. And maybe within our mother's freezer.

Nicole Welle is a life coach and mentor, helping moms find fulfillment and live their authentic purpose. Nicole lives in West Fargo with her husband, two sons and one daughter. You can find her online at www.nicolewelle.com .

Related Topics: FAMILY
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