Kids overscheduled this summer? Go retro!

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Activities: Babies, Siblings

So far, this is turning out to be a retro summer! By foregoing the organized sport/activity route, my kids are busy making themselves busy.

Two weeks ago, my budding capitalists set up a lemonade stand in our driveway. They made signs, lemonade, and used their own piggy bank money to buy supplies. They were so excited to have "customers" and I found myself surprised by how seriously they took their job.

With all this free time, there's time for elaborate dress-up games. Most mornings they come down dressed as spies in black leggings, old trench coats and a back pack full of "spy things" which consist primarily of walkie-talkies and primitive telescopes. Today they divulged their secret hiding place in the ravine by the side of the house where they "spy on the cars" that drive by.

A rainy afternoon viewing of Pocahontas inspired Indian get-ups of feathers, braids, and ankle bracelets -- not to mention a priceless moment of watching my daughter "dancing with the wind" from the kitchen window while I washed dishes.

Rainy days are also cause for tea parties, afternoon movies with mom, or down time to simply lay around and read or journal.

Last summer we bought one of those big trampolines with a net. A few weeks ago, I freaked out when I saw my two-year-old laying on the trampoline while the older ones bounced around him. I immediately ran to the kitchen window prepared to yell, "STOP!" But when I opened the window, all I could hear was his uncontrollable laughter and squeals of joy every time his body lifted off the trampoline. I gave a half-hearted warning to be careful, closed the window, and let the kids be kids.

Presently they are drawing up plans to build a tree house with dad and I'm enjoying overhearing the countless conversations about location, flags, "do not enter" signs, and rules and regulations about whether grown-ups should or shouldn't be allowed in.

Our kids love to log roll (yes! log roll). Most summers, I drive them to my husband's hometown in Hayward, Wisconsin to train at the local log rolling school. The town, however, is an hour away and with gas prices so high, we knew we had to find another solution this year. So, my husband traded an old pontoon boat for a large wooden tank, purchased a tarp liner at Home Depot and filled it up. Since we own a log rolling log (who doesn't, right?), now the kids can log roll in their own back yard (with supervision!).

No guilt here for not signing them up for soccer, baseball, or tennis. As far as I'm concerned, they're getting plenty of fresh air and exercise; much needed sibling bonding; and opportunities to use their imagination and creativity.

The best part of our retro summer? Not spending time in the car driving kids around from one activity to the next. That's good for my pocketbook ... and my sanity!

For more information about Rachel visit her website at

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.