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Summertime Madness - Keeping Your Kids Entertained 21st Century Style

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OK, summer's here. The kids are out of school. Take a deep breath. Don't panic. It's going to be all right, I think.

Parents who have children of a certain age start to get stressed out when summer approaches because they know their kids are going to announce their boredom every five seconds for three months straight. As parents in the 21st century, we feel responsible for entertaining our children, meeting their every need, and protecting them from everything. It's madness.

Strangers, ticks, sugar, gluten, nuts, the sun, and boredom are all modern enemies. Their school is a controlled environment where they are on a schedule, safe and learning. Home is an electronic playground where snacks and beverages are served endlessly. We are left to pry the iPad out of our children's hands. No one wants to play outside anymore which leaves moms and dads to figure out how to keep the children busy in a healthy way during the summer and retain their sanity.

Parents of the 80s were so laid back and unaffected by this struggle that today's parents put on themselves. Were they on Valium? I'm in awe remembering my summer days spent with neighborhood children running around outside totally unsupervised. We would ride our bikes (no helmets) to different houses and our parents would not see us for hours. We were free, taking in UV light without sunblock and they were without worry. They did not feel responsible for entertaining us.

I'm convinced that if a parent today had the attitude of an 80s parent, someone, in certain mommy circles, would feel compelled to call child services. "Can you believe the Lamberts, letting their children play outside by themselves? What are they thinking?"

The birth of the modern play date was a result of parents' fear of leaving their children unattended for a second and the need for chardonnay after eight hours of being with kids who are bored. I know that it's good for children to be bored sometimes, but in this technological day and age, they refuse to be in such a state for very long.

Good old fashioned outdoor free play has become a liability. It's a shame. The risk of melanoma, lyme disease, or being kidnapped by a crazed lunatic in a white van has become too frightening for modern-day parents. So now kids are on the couch with a death grip on an iPad. There are more channels on the television than I can count and a parent's iPhone or computer is now the gateway drug for children who have yet to discover the Xbox.

So how are we to entertain our children all summer in a healthy way and get any work done? Parents today are struggling with this dilemma. We're all about nurturing our child's interests in a controlled, nut-free environment. Getting them to play outside is like getting a cat into a bathtub. This is where the buffet of summer camps comes into play. It takes research and strategy but as it gets close the school year ending, parents make it a point to get it locked down. Mostly out of fear.

Summer camps have become a lifeline of hope for parents. Camps are more popular than ever because parents are losing the battle against all the electronics that have invaded the home. I know that summer camp is not a new thing. The vast variety of camps has emerged from parents being more invested in their children than ever.

There are camps for every personality and interest. There's Lego camp, Star Wars camp, Minecraft camp, sports camp, dance camp, art camp and anything else you can imagine. A great nature day camp is a good option. Slather them with SPF 50, spray them with DEET-free bug spray and let them experience the great outdoors. So retro. Camps have come a long way from the 1980s. The counselors are screened and usually have CPR training. Allergies and feelings are taken seriously.

The amount of guilt and worry that we take on is not healthy. We probably look psychotic to our parents. We really need to give ourselves a break, literally. Embrace summer camp, if only for a week. Don't be afraid. Just think of all the laundry or reality television viewing you'll get done. You'll feel like a real 80s parent while your kids are being entertained 21st century style.