Health & Wellness Committee: Fun in the Sun — Together!

Claudia Apfelbaum, for the Shuttle

It’s that wonderful time of year again — summer!

This is the time of year when we can, hopefully, catch our breath and live life a little more the way we want. The sun pulls us out into its warmth. We might simply swing on a hammock in our backyard. We might take a walk or bike ride, or go to the beach or go sailing. And we might also think about playing with our children and supporting them to have the pleasures of childhood we might have had. As they do not have homework, the summer gives them, and us, the opportunity to enjoy fun in the sun that is not possible other times of the year.

I want to remind you what children need and want and what summer ideally would be about. Children want and need to play; they want long, uninterrupted hours of play, sometimes alone and sometimes with others, to play often made-up games that go on and on, as in “The Bridge To Terabithia,” where the two children had their secret place and a secret world with characters, roles and relationships. 

Children also want playful engagement with their parents and if we are slightly less stressed out during the summer, this is an ideal time to join them. Children’s natural environment is the world of play. Joining them there makes them happy! 

Playing with our children can be challenging. It is comparable to entering a different world. It requires putting on a different headset and turning off our thoughts about work, problems with other relationships and when we’re going to fit in the shopping. Really playing with our children is often a mental and physical stretch because it involves focusing on what they are saying, joining them in their play and following their lead. It can mean leaving our cell phones off. It means shelving our worries and choosing to really be with them. 

Here is an example of this kind of fun: When my daughter was about 3, we took a walk at Tyler Arboretum in Media. Without any premeditation, she and I began to throw elongated leaves into the creek there. They floated downstream. Some went more quickly than others. The leaves were like little boats. We got excited about that. We threw leaves into the creek for a long time. She had fun. I had fun. It was relaxing, simple and unexpected. That activity is part of the weave and weft of our relationship. It helped build our connection. I invite you to do something like this with your own children. Let me know how it goes! 

Not only do our children need fun in the sun, we do too. We need down time and time to replenish ourselves. Taking a walk or run in the woods, sitting on a log or bench, inhaling deeply and breathing the warm air are all things we can do to make our lives feel more relaxed and more enjoyable. For us, the trick is to listen to that inner call and do what pulls us. No excuses! 

Wishing you a wonderful summer!

Claudia Apfelbaum, MSS, LCSW, is a local psychotherapist and a member of the Health & Wellness Committee. She enjoys working with individuals, couples and families, helping them to become clearer about who they are and what they want for their lives. Contact her at or visit her website,

Views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily the Health & Wellness Committee, and are not a substitute for talking with a therapist about concerns you might be having.