This article originally appeared as part of the Kitchen Table Talk column in Capital District Parent Pages.
On the morning of the last day of school, children all over America rise from their beds with exhilaration in their hearts in anticipation of the carefree summer days ahead. On the morning of the last day of school, parents all over America rise from their beds slowly with worrisome thoughts on how they will manage the summer schedule.
Their children have been released from the constraints of school and, at least temporarily, co-parenting with teachers is suspended. With a combination of the town pool, local playgrounds, summer camps, and other available seasonal programs, parents find ways to bring some structure to the liberation of summertime. This is work, and it can leave Mom and Dad feeling joyless. Less they forget how it felt to be a kid in summer, Mom and Dad ought to indulge in some guilty pleasures themselves; pleasures reminiscent from their youth.
Start with a cold glass of lemonade and paper and pencil. Avoid using your iPad and actually write in your own penmanship. Seat yourself at the kitchen table to make a list of your fondest childhood summer memories. Now, make another list of the very smallest things, seemingly insignificant occurrences from your earliest memories. Forget about the big crush on the camp counselor or the solo you landed at music camp, and try to recall the simple joys absorbed through your five senses. Think of the smell of freshly mowed grass, the view of sunrise from your childhood window, the feel of the warm concrete after exiting the pool, the sound of crickets in the night air, and the disappearing taste of cotton candy on your tongue.
This summer, occasionally step out and step back in time. When you step out, you are pressing the pause button on all the demands on your life. You need to get out of the car, leave the house, shed the chores at hand and take yourself on a tour of the senses. It could be a mere few minutes, or if you are lucky, a few hours, of treating your senses to the pleasures that surround you outside. It really is true, proven by research studies, that cavorting in nature raises the serotonin in your system, gives you a more positive attitude, and creates more harmony in your world. It is a fact that people who run outdoors instead of on a treadmill have higher levels of the feel-good brain chemicals known as endorphins. It is important to your health and wellbeing to take breaks from the routine and get outside and be a kid again. Interact with Mother Nature’s groundcover of plants, trees, grass, and flowers and observe the magnificent changing sky above you.