Learn to en­joy the sim­ple things in life

Pan­demic a per­fect chance for par­ents to share own child­hood sum­mer me­mories

Cape Breton Post - - LIFESTYLES - GINA BELL com­mu­ni­ties@her­ald.ca @HRMCom­mu­ni­ties

Or­ga­nized sports, camps, sched­uled va­ca­tions and end­less play­dates have long been sum­mer sta­ples in our house. How­ever, this year, be­cause of the pan­demic, our school break is look­ing a lot dif­fer­ent. On the sur­face, there is much that has been lost due to COVID-19, but if we step back and take an­other look, we will re­al­ize that we have all gained many things too.

Over the past few weeks, I've been think­ing a lot about the slower, free-range sum­mers of my child­hood, and I de­cided to em­brace this op­por­tu­nity to give my kids a dif­fer­ent kind of sum­mer this year.

Struc­tured ac­tiv­i­ties are great, but the lazy days of sum­mer are the per­fect time for kids to as­sert their in­de­pen­dence and en­gage in free play. Par­ents ben­e­fit from be­ing able to take a break from plan­ning and en­ter­tain­ing, and kids learn de­ci­sion­mak­ing skills, ne­go­ti­at­ing skills, how to build re­la­tion­ships, and how to use their imag­i­na­tions and fos­ter their cre­ativ­ity. An old-fash­ioned sum­mer can be good for ev­ery­one's phys­i­cal and men­tal well-be­ing.

In case you for­get, the fol­low­ing is a re­fresher course on the ex­pe­ri­ences of an “old school” 1970s/1980s sum­mer:

• They looked like: No sched­ule, neigh­bour­hood free­dom, no elec­tron­ics, play­ing out­side, spend­ing time with cousins, swim­ming, bik­ing, play­ing hide and seek un­til dusk, flash­light tag, build­ing forts, fish­ing, danc­ing in the rain in bathing suits, splash­ing in pud­dles and plas­tic pools, blow­ing bub­bles, mak­ing mud pies, read­ing books out­side, cloud watch­ing, star gaz­ing, hang­ing out in some­one's shed/club­house, trad­ing stick­ers, tent­ing in the yard, catching fire­flies, slip and slides in the back­yard, roller skat­ing, catching frogs, old school lawn darts and hop­scotch.

• They tasted like: Fam­ily meals, drink­ing from the hose, wa­ter­melon seed spit­ting con­tests, boiled hot­dogs, bologna or PB&J sand­wiches in the yard, home­made ice cream and pop­si­cles, frozen chocolate cov­ered ba­nanas, Kool-Aid and Tang, lemon­ade in sty­ro­foam cups, half­cooked cakes made in Easy Bake Ovens, penny candy from the cor­ner store and rocket pop­si­cles.

• They smelled like: Wash­ing your hair with sham­poo in the lake (which to­tally counted as a bath), smoke from bon­fires, newly picked berries, fresh cut grass and salty ocean air.

• They felt like: Warm sun, light rain, ocean breezes, sun­burns, itchy bug bites, bare feet in the soft grass and shock­ingly cold water from a sprin­kler.

• They sounded like: Jump rope rhymes, neigh­bour­hood kids “call­ing” for each other, the bell from the Dickie Dee bike, kids yelling red rover, red rover or Si­mon says, Casey's top 40 on a Sun­day af­ter­noon, clap­ping games like Miss Mary Mac and par­ents hol­ler­ing when it was time to come home.

It may have taken a pan­demic, but I think we are all learn­ing the value of slow­ing down and en­joy­ing the sim­ple things in life. We have lost many things dur­ing this dif­fi­cult and un­prece­dented time, but I am ex­tremely grate­ful for this chance to give my kids a taste of what child­hood used to be. Gina Bell writes the East Coast Mommy col­umn, which runs ev­ery sec­ond week. Fol­low her blog at www. EastCoastM­ommy.com

GINA BELL • CON­TRIB­UTED

With­out mod­ern day con­ve­niences, child­hood in the sum­mer was sim­pler in the 1970s and 1980s.

GINA BELL • CON­TRIB­UTED

COVID-19 has given par­ents the op­por­tu­nity to share sim­pler sum­mer ac­tiv­i­ties from their own child­hoods with kids, like fly­ing a kite.

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