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The problem with the ’18 summers’ theory

Thoughts of my children growing up and away have been on my mind recently and I’ve also thought about the type of people I want them to become.
You must have seen the posts and pics across social media in the last couple of weeks reminding parents that we only have 18 summers with our children so we need to make them count.

I have a problem with this for so many reasons.
Firstly, I know from my own experience that I didn’t leave home at 18, never to spend another summer with my parents. (I’m 24 in this pic from 2005!)

The thing that I miss most from my summers as a teen are sitting out with a book with no responsibilities. My family weren’t involved at all!
Other times of year are important for making memories: remember the snow???
Christmas is the classic family time. Birthday treats. Random or spontaneous surprises such as a day out. Doing things together as well as space to be alone.

I worry that working parents may feel stigmatised for not spending 18 whole summers with their children. Actually, some of the most fun things I remember from my own childhood are going to holiday clubs even though my mum wasn’t working.
Other times were the days spent with cousins or sleepovers with grandparents.  We try to include my sister and her family, my parents and Chris’ mum as much as possible so that the children have a variety of experiences, often enjoying places in the local area and just appreciating time together.

The housework still needs to get done. The children still need to be fed. Going out somewhere for the day can be expensive and stressful. Not every day can be FUN FUN FUN! Children need some down time.

Last year I made a summer bucket list of things to try to do. There weren’t that many things on it, perhaps 1 or 2 a week, leaving lots of time for the children to play freely with their toys and each other without the worry of making memories.

I think it is important to have balance. Children need to learn that life happens in waves. There will be times of being busy and others of calm. Both are important to the wellbeing of parents AND children.

So if you haven’t got an incredible summer planned, then don’t panic. The children will make memories anyway and so will you.


  1. I never hear of 18 summers with the kids before. Not many when you think of it that way. My eldest left for Uni at 19 and has come home to live now at 24. We have nothing much planned for this Summer with the younger children we always have lots of fun planning day to day depending on the weather.

  2. Its kinda scary when you look at it like that! That means I’ve only got another 12 left (well depending if I still want to hang around with my folks when I’m in my teens!) I’d like to think we have many more fun times ahead – not just summers x #DreamTeam

  3. Hey Laura, you’re absolutely right. Yes, we definitely need to plan some fun activities and outings – but these don’t need to be expensive – and giving the kids time to do things on their own is massively important. Free play is a big part of their development, it helps instil creativity and reduces the instant gratification demands and entitlement phenomena we seem to be experiencing.

    You also point out that memories can, and should, be made all year and I completely agree. OK, summer is a long break that needs to be filled somehow, but with a little careful planning amongst friends, family and grandparents the children can have a string of mini holidays – with only a week or two off work yourself. Consider teaming up with a couple of other parents to take turns ‘hosting’ for a week each, that’s half the holidays covered!

  4. Having got six children aged from 5 to 25 I have much more than 18 summers. I think it has become a ‘thing’ as many parents despair of the length of the summer holidays, but you are so right – we make memories throughout the year, not just in summer

  5. This is so true. Evey day cannot be a magical day like Disneyland. Real life happens. I love my daughter so much but my whole world does not revolve around making her life magical. It would be tiring. I do play fun activities but there are days when we are just hanging out at home. #bloggerclubuk

  6. I couldn’t agree more, I hate the guilt that I must hold on to every precious moment when truth be told some of it is a bit sh*t and I am sure it was the same for my parents. Life is not perfect and I hate this illusion X #triumphanttales

  7. Totally agree with this as I said on FB. Firstly I don’t think it’s all about summers and also you are right; we can’t be busy everyday. Life gets in the way and sometimes kids need to time to chill. Fab post. Thanks for sharing with #bloggersbest x

  8. I had heard of the 18 summers but never really paid any attention to it. I agree there aren’t only 18 summers with your children. I’ve spent last summer and am spending this summer with my folks on and off and I’m 40!

  9. I totally agree. My parents still holiday with us and I am 42 m! So they are still getting at least two weeks of Summer with me and now the grandkids. I was just talking with my boys about our summer plans this morning and both of them agreed one of the things they really wanted was time at home with their toys. Thanks for joining the #DreamTeam this week

  10. Thank you for saying exactly what I have been thinking but have avoided posting. You have years with your children to make memories, teach and show them things … That doesn’t stop when they’re 18.

    The whole 18 summers thing just strikes me as a false construct designed to make parents feel yet more guilt about Not Doing Enough.

  11. I agree whole-heartedly! It is important to cherish every single day with your children…not just the summers! Time goes by quickly and any time you get that little reminder as a wake up call, you need to make the most of every day, not just the summers! Love this!

  12. I agree there are so many other important times of the year. i had 13 summers with my teen till he turned 18 as he was away in boarding school, i had last summer and this summer with him. My 28 and 23 year olds are spending most of their summer with me this year and last #triumphanttales

  13. Such a good and lovely photographs (you look amazing in that bikini!). Really agree with your sentiment. Memories really happen when you’re not trying to make them. Have a wonderful summer whatever you do. #stayclassymama

  14. I hate the idea of our time being limited with our kids, but then as you say… make the most of every moment we have with them – teach them it can’t all be holidays and day trips. There are times when chores and boring things like work need to be done and therefore we can’t spend our time together. But equally, when we have to do something boring and necessary, why not try to make it as fun for everyone as possible??
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week!

  15. I totally agree with this, I mean the younger they are the more reliant they are on you but just because we grow older doesn’t mean our children are not in our lives and summers and like you said other times of the year – snow, Christmas, birthdays etc

    Laura x

  16. Pat

    I couldn’t agree more. I left home at 18 and every summer I chose to come back home to spend it with my parents and my sister. It’s a silly concept really. We make memories all the time.

  17. Pingback: 5 reasons to be excited about back to school | Musings of a tired mummy…zzz…

  18. Absolutely … our daughter is very busy making her only memories, which she is not always keen to share!!! I dare say we will see more fo her later when she thinks we are normal again, lol.

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