Kids and lazy summer days gone by

Summer is coming to an end and, once again,
I'm reminded of how different things are now than they were when I was a kid.

Long summer days, walks in fields of hay and flowers, counting stars, building forts and playing in mud are pastimes of the past. Hour after hour it seemed there wasn't much to do besides getting dirty and then cooling off in the sprinkler. My parents hardly knew where I was, though I grew up in a rural area with lots of room to roam and explore. There were no worries because the kids in the neighborhood always made it home in time for dinner.

I wish my kids had that those care free, lazy days that I remember so well. But times have changed and even though they still have room to roam around they hardly seem interested. Sure, lots of summer days are taken up by day camps, planned outings and family trips that are fun and make wonderful memories for years to come. But the balance of time is taken up by iPods, Netflix, and online games (ToonTown is the current fave with my boys). I think if I sent my kids outside for the day they would have a much harder time coming up with ways to pass the time than we did. And I wonder what sort of effect this will have on kids as they grow older. Will they be as creative? Will problem solving, sharing, and communication skills come as easy when they've rarely been left to figure it out for themselves? When you have so much unstructured time in childhood, as I did, you get to be pretty creative with how you use it.

Then there's parents, too. Especially as a single mom, working at home no less, makes for days that are not so lazy, more along the lines of crazy. The opportunities to be spontaneous and free of responsibilities are few and far between. Kids learn by example, and when mom is on the computer for much of the day then it's more of a leap to go outside and explore in the woods for a bit. Then again, my mother was never much of an outdoorsy person herself. ;)

We had a great summer - lots of beach days and fun with family and friends. It all goes by so fast, I can hardly believe that school is about to start again. I try to have days with little or no tv, no iPods, no computers. Those are always the best days. What do you do to get your kids un-plugged? Do they have lots of free time or are they always on the go? Do you think they miss out on that care free attitude of days past? Let me know what you do to make the most of lazy summer days.