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In the age of smartphones, tablets, and 24/7 kids’ TV channels, is a simple summer a thing of the past? Thank you, Michaels, for sponsoring this post.

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Every few weeks, I see a new essay on social media comparing the unstructured, carefree summers of decades past to the over-scheduled, “plugged in” summers of today. Inevitably, a debate ensues. Some say things like, “Life was so much better back then! Kids nowadays feel the need to be entertained 24/7 and they’ve lost their ability to be creative.” Others say, “Get real! Times have changed and it’s not realistic to think that we can live like it’s the 1970’s in 2016, whether we’d like to or not.”

I don’t like getting caught up in these debates because I’m a big believer in the happy medium. Like the authors of these types of essays, I also have fond memories of my simple 70’s and 80’s summers. I spent my days outdoors, exploring my town on a bike with stops at the local penny candy store. I made up skits with friends, and spent hour upon hour at the pool with nothing except a towel and a handful of change for a popsicle at the refreshment stand. Of course, I’d love the same type of summer for my own kids.

BUT, I know that’s easier said than done in 2016. When I set out to have a “simple summer day” with my girls, I usually start out feeling totally optimistic about all of the leisurely, creative fun we’re going to have, and then end up policing their electronics use, breaking up arguments, and fielding nonstop requests for playdates, lunch dates, or expensive outings. They aren’t old enough to explore on their own, and conflicting travel and activity schedules often make it tough to get together with local friends. Which makes me wonder…

Is a simple summer a thing of the past?

I absolutely feel that children need time to be bored and create their own fun, and my kids do a lot of that. At the same time, I see the value in scheduled activities that can benefit both the children AND whoever is caring for them.

Thankfully we are fortunate to live in a time when opportunities abound for kids to get away from screens and electronics, and STILL be creative and use their imaginations in a structured environment. In fact, they might be able to unleash even MORE creativity away from home because they’re free to make a mess in a place where messes are welcome.

If you live near a Michaels store, the Michaels Camp Creativity is a fantastic option. It’s for kids ages 3-8, and runs from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, now through July 29.

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Each session only costs $5 (or you can purchase 3 sessions for $12), and each week has a special theme. When we attended, it was dinosaur week, as you can see below. :)

Note: Camp Creativity is not a drop-off camp. You can either stay and assist your little one with the crafts, OR if your children are old enough to craft on their own, you can shop around Michaels as long as you remain on the premises. Since my youngest daughter is all about crafting WITHOUT any help from mom, my older daughter and I stocked up on Rainbow Loom rubber bands and other fun craft supplies while she attended the class. It worked out perfectly for all of us!

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Camp Creativity presents a perfect opportunity to get out of the house, let your kids be creative and make the good kind of messes, and still have plenty of time leftover for naps, pool time, popsicles, or anything else you want to do with your lazy summer afternoon. Visit the Camp Creativity website to find local offerings and more information.

I think it is possible to have a simple summer, even if it doesn’t look exactly the same as it did 30 years ago. As much as I loved my childhood summers, I must say that I also love having resources like this in 2016. I’m not going to even attempt to have a TV or device-free summer, but I AM going to do my best to limit the amount of time my girls are “plugged in.” I want our summer to have a good mix of downtime and activity time. It’s all about balance.

How do you guys feel about summer in 2016? Do you struggle with finding balance between structured time, electronics time, and good old fashioned summer fun? I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

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This was a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Michaels. All experiences and opinions are solely my own.

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