Podcast Episode 149: The Problem with a 1970s Summer in 2017

Thanks so much for coming by to check out Episode 149 of The New Family Podcast where we dig into the reasons why summer often isn’t the leisurely, unstructured time families would like it to be.

Some champion the return to a 1970s-style summer when kids roamed free and parents didn’t worry about day camp pick-up times. In this solo episode, I dive into the reasons why that free-range parenting dream can’t come true — at least not yet.

It’s important to consider the changing shape of family when we’re trying to figure out how to have a happier, healthier and more sustainable lifestyle during the summer. In this episode we unpack some important social and economic context around summer.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! I share thoughts on some tangible actions you can take to capture a little more summer fun now and in future summers.

Here are some resources related to this episode.

My Star article Summer Childcare Challenges Can Be Conquered

Related Article: How Not to Lose Your Mind with Summer Childcare

Related Episode: How to Actually Have Fun on Your Family Vacation

Related Episode: How Not to Lose Your Sh*t When Your Kids Push Your Buttons

Related Episode: Parenting in Four Decades

Here’s are my tips for getting more out of your summer:

Number 1. Press for better vacation policies at work.
While minimum standards are set federally, some workplaces choose to do better, and that seems to contribute meaningfully to employee retention and happiness. And happy workers who’ve had a chance to spend time with their kids while school’s out are more productive workers. Explore flex time that allows you to finish earlier on Fridays, time in lieu, or working from home some of the time. No, not every worker has the power to bring this sort of thing up with their bosses. But if you do, you can absolutely play a part in beginning to change the culture in your place of work.

Number 2. Collaborate on some low-stress childcare.
A lot of the strain of summer comes from the fact that camps usually end between 3 and 5:30 p.m. — a shorter day than regular daycare — while your workplace commitments remain the same. Team up with another family or two and take turns taking one day off work to fill a week with all-day play dates. Or pool resources and hire a babysitter to watch your kids as well as a neighbour’s so you can skip the day-camp dash and the kids can have a taste of that 1970s roaming thing. Besides, there are a lot of teenagers out there who would be grateful for the cash.

Number 3. Opt out of activities.
Clear the way for maximum enjoyment of your weekends and evenings together by putting a pause on piano lessons, or choosing a soccer or baseball house league that breaks for most of July or August. With more time for sandcastles and strolls to the ice cream shop, you’ll be glad you did.

How have you and your family been spending the summer? How do you meet your summer child-care needs and where do the solutions lie? What would it take to make your summer better? And don’t say “winning the lottery” because that’s too obvious. What are the policy changes, strategies, community-based solutions, clever child-care plans that are or COULD make for happier summers? Leave a comment below to let us know!

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Brandie Weikle

About Brandie Weikle

Brandie is a long-time parenting editor, writer and spokesperson. Most recently editor-in-chief of Canadian Family magazine, Brandie has also been the parenting and relationships editor for the Toronto Star, founding editor of two Toronto Star websites, and an editor for Today's Parent. Brandie is a single mother of two in Toronto and a frequent television and radio guest on parenting topics. A former digital director at House & Home Media, she also consults on digital audience engagement. Contact her here. View all posts by