Karen Drew: We had an 'old school' summer vacation - and it was perfect

It made me feel like a kid again!


It was one of my BEST decisions!

At the beginning of summer, I told my daughters (ages 9 and 7) that we are going "old school" this summer. They really didn't know what I meant, but I knew things had to change.

I was done with the over-planned summers, the countless camps, the push to do everything and go everywhere. This summer, I told them, was going to be different.  

I have to tell you, as we wind down summer vacation, I can honestly tell you it not only was the best summer we've had, but I'm personally more refreshed, happier, and actually got the chance to feel like a kid again!

I'll admit at first I was a bit nervous. I'm a planner, so leaving countless weeks open to our imagination and spontaneity was not in my wheelhouse, but I gave it a try.  


Now let me be clear: I am lucky enough to have a nanny and some family to help me. so I am very blessed, but at the same time I didn't want them over-planning for my girls. I wanted the kids to be just that -- kids.  

Summer mornings

Mornings became this relaxing quiet time instead of eating quickly, packing your bag for camp, and rushing out the door to get the kids somewhere. Instead, my girls got to sleep in – which they never get to do.  

Most the time they were up by 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m., but there were a few 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., wakeups which seemed so crazy to them. We did summer homework and reading in the morning and after that, the day was open to them.   

You know what they wanted to do? Simply play with the kids in the neighborhood!  Remember when we were kids and did that? So, most days of the week my girls would fill their days with freeze tag, ghosts in the graveyard, countless lemonade stands, hide and seek, tons of soccer, basketball in the driveway, chalk drawings on the sidewalk, and when they were tired, an afternoon movie with homemade popsicles or popcorn was the perfect way to end the fun that day.  


They even found a nearby creek to play in which offered tons of entertainment on those hot afternoons. 

I loved hearing their stories when I would come home from work and hear the excitement in their voices.

Summer evenings

Summer evenings were also low-key but perfect. I pushed aside a bed time (typically the girls would crash by 10 p.m.). Our nights were filled with dinner outside, and yes, more freeze tag.  

Let me tell you -- it's harder than you imagine – most other moms didn't jump in, but I did and I loved it! I also jumped in on the soccer games. My girls footwork is getting better and better and they would definitely challenge me at times.

It was so much fun! I was able to forego the treadmill and get exercise the old school way by just playing with my kids! What a concept!

When I was a kid, I loved catching fireflies, but for some reason, I never encouraged them to do it but this summer it was a constant past time. They each had jars and it was cute watching them competing, catching, and releasing the fireflies into the dark of night.

Of course, bonfires were a must, and I did them WAY more than I ever did in past summers. For some reason, I always thought it was a big deal to start a fire, but you know what, it's not, and it brought us so much extra time to talk and of course eat smores. It was a perfect way to end a summer night. 


Vacations were centered around going up north – you may have seen a steady stream of pics if you follow me on social media.  Our plans were not fancy, we just spent countless hours outside. The girls LOVED the shaving cream fights with their cousins,  swimming in the lake , afternoon hikes, making tie-dye shirts, and countless games of flashlight tag! (Yes, I played that as well and seriously more adults need to play this game -- it is a blast!) 


Don't get me wrong, I did hear that famous phrase, "Mom, I'm bored there is nothing to do!." Instead of running to their rescue every moment, I tried to encourage THEM to find something to do or just being ok with being bored -- it's not my job to entertain them every second of the day. 

What I learned

Simple and sweet – that was the motto this summer and it really worked for our family!  Oh, I should mention we did do one camp -- a mother daughter horse camp for three days at Black River  -- and it was an amazing bonding time.

Now, I understand all families have different pressures, and work schedules, so all of this may not be possible. The lack of plans, the lack of schedules, and the good old simple fun made ME feel like a kid again and brought my family closer!  

Oh, yes I will miss summer. But I am so thankful for what this summer taught me. I plan on bringing that mentality to live in the moment and relax more into the school year! Wish me luck! 

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