Summer. There’s so much available in the season for families. School is out and the weather (supposed to be) nice. While most families have one parent, if not both, working, there are usually vacations and days off that enable for various excursions which are usually not possible during the rest of the year. For the family that largely works from home, however, things are rather different.
What I like about summer camps is the routine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely in favor of unstructured time, sleeping in, lazy days doing nothing, staying up late and… doing nothing. My problem is that I’m still working. With four small kids (and yes, I know August is 8 years old and not that small, it’s a generalization) in the house, things get crowded and noisy very quickly. Because Xavier is just a toddler I am unable to work from my office in the basement, needing to work from a more mobile office environment, essentially a laptop on the dining room table.
Since Laura is both working this summer (teaching summer school) as well as having gone back to school to get her teaching degree, she isn’t the stay at home mom that she used to be. More of the day to day activities fall on my shoulders, a responsibility which I do enjoy (despite my complaints).
I’m not a proponent of packing your kid’s summer schedule with as many activities as possible, with full day camps and extra lessons or whatever. However, if both parents are working, there is a necessity for childcare, and that is a more than valid way of keeping the kid engaged and active. If your child is old enough, overnight camps are great too. I’m actually looking forward to being able to send my kids, as I do think those are a rite of passage.
But now the kids are home – all day, every day. I have to work, as does Laura. We live in the city, and I can’t send them to play outside like when I was their age.
Earlier this summer there are a few day camps the kids went to. First there was Mrs. Thomason’s World Camp, which is a half day affair run out of the Kindergarten teacher’s home. The kids learn about a new country each day, make a snack, and learn how to say “hello” and “good bye” in the language. This is something we send the kids to more for the kids enjoyment than anything, as everybody LOVES Mrs. Thomason. She has extra day care if necessary, but we don’t typically do that. August and Déla went to that and enjoyed it.
Then there was CYO day camp, where August did your typical camp activities (archery, lanyard making, swimming, etc.) and Deal had horseback riding. This was a long week, as they had to get up early in order for me to drive them to where the bus picked them up in order to get to the camp for the day. It was rough, but rewarding for them, especially Déla who loves horses, as most young girls do (despite not actually getting close to one previously).
What followed was a split week, where Déla had Girl Scout Day Camp, then August and Ciárán had World Camp. I was very hesitant to send Ciárán to his first day camp, since he just turned 4, and there wasn’t really a need to send him. I know, there wasn’t a real need to send August, but he’s older and enjoys going over to Mrs. Thomason’s house. Since Mrs. Thomason was moving from Kindergarten to being the lead preschool teacher, ultimately we decided to try it out, more on her interest in having Ciárán as a way of introduction for the two of them. Since it was only half day, a couple of other preschoolers would be there, as well as August, we figured it might be a good trial, and if it went poorly, we would pull him after the first day. Turns out he loved it.
Déla’s activity that week was about 6 hours each day in the park with Girl Scouts. She loved it, and was disappointed we had not signed her up for more weeks of Girl Scouts Day Camp. I was reminded on when the Spice Girls first his and there was so much “girl power” going around. Déla literally exploded with enthusiasm.
And now they are home with no more day camps planned or registered. Occasionally we go to the playground a block away to practice bike riding, but the only other activity is a continued gymnastics class once a week as well as the weekly swim lesson.
So the dilemma is what to do with the kids where I can stay home and work, they don’t just watch television, and CPS isn’t ultimately called in. I like the routine of summer camps, especially as it is easier to keep the bed time going (which I might talk about in another blog post), but there needs to be a balance against overscheduling the kids’ time. I have some activities planned, such as (yet another) trip to the zoo, the aquarium, time at the beach and park, but ultimately it’s a lot of time where I’m trying to get my work done and not kill the kids before they kill each other.