Summer Days in Pittsburgh’s Parks

When it started to become more and more obvious that this summer would be "different," I immediately went into "how am I going to handle this with the kids?" worry mode.

Will playgrounds open back up? Will I be able to take them to the pool? Will we be able to go to the summer festivals? Will we be able to spend that week up at my parents' house? Will we be able to take them to the baseball game? Will we be able to go and eat at our favorite restaurants? And if not - will we have enough to do to fill the time?

But then I remembered the lesson I learned from my childhood. That while big "outings" are a fun bonus to summer, they aren't what makes a summer. Family time makes a summer. Adventure makes a summer. Fun makes a summer. Imagination makes a summer. Discovery makes a summer. Joy in the simplicity makes a summer.



We recently did an afternoon adventure to Schenley Park in the Pittsburgh Parks. We worked together to pack a lunch before heading out to a new trail we hadn't yet walked. Letting the kids lead the way, we discovered larger-than-we've-ever-seen tadpoles, made friends with a duck, crossed paths with deer, climbed on trees, found perfect hiking sticks, pointed out trees that had a little more character than the ones around it, raced up rock stairs and enjoyed sunshine and exercise.

The joy in our kids' eyes the entire way reminded me that summer doesn't have to be "huge."


Summer doesn't have to be extravagant.

Summer is how we take these little adventures and turn them into memories. Summer is freedom to "be" and explore.

Summer is how we choose to experience the little moments along the way.

Brea Schmidt is a Pittsburgh-based speaker, photographer, and Iris-Award nominated writer who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch Follow along with her messages of positivity and perspective on Facebook and Instagram .

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy believes that being outdoors and in the parks are a wonderful outlet if the stress and anxiety of the current situation is weighing heavily on you and your loved ones. Be sure to spend time outdoors to help decompress; explore a new trail, listen to the birds; read a book; play catch with your children. Be sure to follow all physical distancing recommendations from the CDC and avoid surfaces where the virus can live such as handrails and playground equipment. And be sure to wash your hands when you get home.