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Summer Parenting: The power of play, the old fashioned way

To connect with your child and give them a real experience they will remember forever you have to unplug your daily grind and plug into your child.
(3 min 28 sec read)

Hon. Sherrill Ellsworth (RET)
Judge Ellsworth was one of the court's most respected and admired bench officers. She retired from the bench to focus on having a greater impact on today’s families by making our courts more accessible, effective, and efficient.

We raised 6 children and if you were to poll any of them they would unequivocally say the best memories growing up were spent on Lake Mohave during summer break. It was 112 degrees in the shade and it didn’t matter one bit. 

Early on we scraped together our pennies and bought an inexpensive entry-level ski boat. And rather than spend time at exotic locations, amusement parks or luxury hotels, we packed up our mini-van and headed for the lake. We would dock the boat in family-friendly Kathryn’s Cove, drive 45 minutes to Laughlin cramming all of our kids into two cheap musky smelling hotel rooms we affectionately called the ‘Boys Bunk’ or the ‘Girls Bunk’. Meals consisted of what we pulled out of our Costco filled ice chests. One night on each trip we would splurge for pizza and breadsticks at Pisaggios (*not really a splurge but coveted). The routine went like this -up early, cram the kids in the car with a muffin in hand, and off to the lake.

The lake was where the magic happened. 

Little or no cell service and a lot of water. From sunup to way beyond twilight we played…  We played hard. We engaged in competition, in cheering one another on, cruising fast to the deep water with Queen blaring on tiny speakers, listening to stories from Dad and his growing up days on the ranch. We would stake our claim at Nacho Cove on Lake Mohave with kayaks, tubes, fishing poles, wakeboards, coolers for sodas and salsa. The sun blazing down on the camp chairs partially submerged in the mud at the water’s edge. 

Life was good. This is where family memories were made. 

Our family, all together, all day on the lake boating and cliff jumping, feeding wild burros and catching and releasing muddy carp, and it was the best time in our lives. 

We are fortunate enough now that we have 13 grandchildren to live on a different lake but still very special. No more schlepping between Laughlin and Lake Mohave or enduring unimaginable heat. We live here for the same old fashion new way of doing things as we did when we bought that first blue boat; our children and their children. Creating lasting memories for our children requires two things from the adults and they’re FREE; a commitment to play and engage.

To connect with your child and give them a real experience they will remember forever you have to unplug your daily grind and plug into your child. Build a campfire, teach them how to roast s’mores. You are giving them a loving tutorial about how to unwind, breathe, appreciate your family and friends company, all while wrapped in this world away from the world for a few days and nights. 

Play is the glue that cements those experiences. For a child to see a parent laugh and have fun is a priceless gift to them. Let them know adulthood isn’t all that bad. Show them the kid in you. Fun, playing, laughing, positivity are exclamation points of childhood and adulthood. Children not often privy to the lighter or more fun side of their parents, see parents as one dimensional and often ‘sad’ or ‘mad’. Parents are bogged down with all sorts of responsibilities, stress and real-world problems. Set aside time to turn that around and show the other dimension of ‘mom’ or ‘dad’.

If a child only sees the dower expression or hears the tight snappish sentences from their parent then connectivity is strained. Co-parents carry a bit more weight, this we know -but it doesn’t have to be that way. This is all the more reason to let your hair down on occasion and play with our kids. 

Ask yourself, has my child ever caught a fish, hiked a trail, slept under the stars, or ate peach cobbler from a dutch oven?  If not, then start being the NEW old fashioned and get a fishing pole, some bait, a few snacks and hit the road. You may not catch a single fish but, you will capture the joy of your child while building memories that will last a lifetime.

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