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Our Summer is Full of Screens and I Refuse to Feel Bad About It

Photograph by Twenty20

I'm sure by now you've read all those nostalgic articles about giving your kids a 1982 summer or a 1970's summer or a 19-whatever-someone-has-decided-was-the-best-decade-ever summer.

Let them play outside all day long with no idea of their whereabouts, they say. Let them be bored and build forts and get sunburns and drink Kool-Aid with questionable ingredients.

Call me Matthew McConaughey, but I'm calling bullshit on that one.

Because while that all sounds well and good and like so many of our childhood summers, the truth is, life is different now. I wasn't even alive in 1982, nor do I have plans to buy Kool-Aid for my kids or let them wander the streets until dusk anytime soon. And I'm 100% down with skipping those things. I don't even like Kool-Aid.

The point is, I'm not giving my kids a 1980's summer or a 1970's summer because it's not 1980.

It's 2017, and for us, that means fully embracing all the benefits that come along with that—especially the technology that makes our lives possible. Who's to say we can't have just as awesome a summer with modern-day conveniences? Who's to say central air-conditioning and Snapchat filters and drive-thru iced coffees are a bad thing?

Do you want to know what my kids did yesterday? They watched at least three hours of TV in the morning with the air-conditioning on full blast because it was the first freaking day of summer and they could and also Mama had some work to get done on the computer and also it was close to 100 degrees outside. No shame and no guilt in my game. Then, we hopped in our minivan (also air-conditioned), where a certain princess movie involving a frog was most definitely playing and went to the pool for the afternoon.

Quite honestly, screens are making our summer possible. And I refuse to feel bad about that.

After that, the power of the babysitting screen was in full force again and let me get a workout done while all four kids watched yet another show. Again, no shame and my biceps and my mental health were both thankful for Netflix on-the-go. And for dinner? A wholesome pizza take-out followed by a rousing game of soccer with their uncle and—you guessed it—another show, this time a family viewing of our favorite "American Ninja Warrior." While we watched as a family, I worked on finishing up more work and then it was bedtime for all.

Throughout our first "official" day of 2017 summer, we can definitely see a theme emerging: It is the summer of screens.

And I refuse to feel bad about that.

Screens allow me to do my job from home, which means I got to be the one to decide that my work was done for the day and be the one to pack up my kids and actually swim with them in the pool. Screens mean that I was able to enjoy a show with my family at night while making enough to pay for volleyball camp for my daughter next week. Screens mean that, even with four young kids in tow and no childcare, I am able to go to the gym almost every single day, something that makes me a better mom and a happier person.

Screens mean that every day when my kids wake up and find me working away at my computer, coffee cup in hand because I've been up since 5 a.m., we are able to spend the day together when my job is done. Screens mean that I get to be here with my kids and witness those magical summer moments.

Quite honestly, screens are making our summer possible. And I refuse to feel bad about that.

So maybe my kids are watching cartoons in the morning or happily singing away to "Moana" in the minivan while I drive us through town for my iced coffee or laughing their heads off to their faces on Snapchat while we wait for our grocery pick-up that I most definitely ordered via a screen and their summer memories are going to be a little different than mine were.

But you know what? The important stuff is all still there.

We're still together, we're still making memories and having fun and trust me when I say there's still plenty of playing outside and splashing in the pool and bike-riding and late-night talks and camping under the stars and catching fireflies and ice cream.

The only difference is that, thanks to a few well-placed screens, I get to be a part of it all. And I'll take that over Kool-Aid any day.

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