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Treasuring Summer's Memories

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Many moments seem to have little gratification when it comes to organizing a busy household. The days can run together, especially when you’re a stay-at-home parent like me. Chores are never-ending, and I’m often consumed by dishes, laundry and refereeing fights among my three children. So the changes I see in them are subtle. Yet, I’ve found that the months between June and September offer the greatest advantage to witnessing the small steps, and some leaps, they make. And, since this week my kiddos will be going back to school, I decided to look back at my favorite memories from the summer of 2013, where I was privileged to watch my children enjoy a lot of firsts.Beach photo: www.owl57.com

Tent Camping

In this column I’ve written about some of our family’s road trips, more like traveling travails. Earlier in the summer, we camped in French Creek State Park. While we’re really not the family who does a lot of “roughing it,” this was a great way to shatter any case of family boredom.

Our children fished for the first time, where they learned to bait and cast their lines. We had a few days that could’ve been pulled out of a photo album from 1987 (minus our smart phones). It was simple. It was inexpensive. It was a trip that we, as parents, could really share with them because not much has changed since their dad and I tent camped when we were children. And the kids talked about roasting marshmallows and bathroom visits by flashlight for weeks after.

Kayaking

One of our closest family friends invited us to her family home on Maryland’s eastern shore. An avid kayaker, she gave my oldest daughter a mini lesson and allowed her to paddle by herself in a child’s kayak, with her friend, while my other two got to be passengers. Seeing my children leap into adventure’s arms, one learning a new skill, made me so proud.

Live MusicOne Direction photo: prweb.com

More than 20 years after my first concert experience, my high school best friend and I took our daughters to their first concert, One Direction. Life really does come full circle because this was a night where we moms felt our age, surrounded by throngs of screaming teens and tweens. But watching three giddy girls, bedazzled with glow necklaces and bracelets munching candy and dancing, would make even the most dubious of parents smile.

Catching Waves

Probably needless to say to beach worshippers like me, boogie boarding is fun alone, but when I shared that experience with my five- and eight-year-old daughters, it was a truly priceless first. Last summer, they barely ventured past knee height in the water, and this summer they became surf riders, confident diving under breaking waves, coming up soaked, sometimes stunned but smiling and in position to do it all over again.

Swimming like Fish

As I just alluded, this summer was a big transition for all my little fish. Before summer, my oldest daughter could swim but had a sloppy stroke. My younger daughter was able to swim a half a length of the pool, and my son had a death grip to any adult when he went near water. By July, she earned her green light to swim in the deep end and could swim a full lap unassisted, and my son learned to jump in the pool with a life vest, completely submerging his head unafraid. The girls also attended a competitive swim camp, where my oldest honed her stroke.

I didn’t realize it at the time when I pondered these favorite five, but the theme is pretty obvious. They represent five reasons I like to underscore the importance of outside play for children. These were memories not made in front of the TV or while plugged into an electronic gadget, although my children still enjoy their screen time. Some memories highlight the beauty of simple family time together, while others were pivotal moments, where my children launched past a comfort zone, gained a new perspective, or enhanced their growing self-esteem.

I hope other parents will find similar inspiration in the small moments life gives us, whether they be in a day or over the course of a season because they really do go by fast.

In the words from a Simon and Garfunkel song, “Bookends”: “Time it was and what a time it was. It was a time of innocence; a time confidences, long ago it must be. I have a photograph. Preserve your memories. They’re all that's left you.”

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  or follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Beach photo: www.owl57.com

One Direction photo: prweb.com