We live in the Washington, DC area, and summer camp is pricy. I don’t fault anyone for this, nor am I angry about it. If you want to send your children to a place where you can trust the people watching them, then that kind of peace of mind is worth the money. Additionally, it’s not easy to watch children. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: teachers deserve more pay and more respect.
We did two weeks of full-day camps and one week of a half-day camp last year (that’s 3 weeks out of a 10 week summer) for our now 9 year old, and it cost as much as low key vacation. Last year we were fortunate in that my sister and her daughter spent the summer visiting from Los Angeles, so our girls played while my mom or my sister watched.
My husband and I work full time. Fortunately with telework we can schedule at least one of us to be home every day of the week. This year, we did 1 week of a half-day camp, then opted to keep our daughter Sofia at home. She’s mostly independent and doesn’t need a lot of attention, so we can work without interruption. However, we realized that without a plan, Sofia would end up spending the entire day watching TV or playing on her Kindle or some other screen time activity.
So we built a schedule. Her school days were scheduled, so it seemed reasonable to incorporate one into summer days. Sofia happens to be a child who gets along better when there’s a plan, so she and I sat down and figured out what general activities to cover and approximately what time. We ended up with something that like this:
We incorporated time for her to watch TV while I had the majority of my work meetings. There’s also time for her to do summer studies (math worksheets, book reports). Sofia has never had a problem with reading or piano. She does it all the time, so I scheduled short sessions for those activities knowing that if she gets tired of TV or Kindle or can’t go swimming, she’ll gravitate towards reading or piano.
Breaking it Down
We then broke the summer out into weekly themes. Again, we discussed this together. I wanted her buy-in so that she couldn’t complain later about not being interested in this or that. (“Mama, why do we have to have a week of nothing but octopuses?”)
The weekly charts cover 4 main areas: art project, snack, dinner, and dessert. Using this method, we could identify ways to address the theme. Here’s what two of our weeks looked like:
The schedules are flexible. If she ends up having friends over or going to a friend’s house, no big deal. Art projects slip into the weekend or get saved for another time. This just made it easier to focus and gave us all something to learn more about. Sofia is also a super picky eater, so having her involved in the menu process means she’s a little more willing to try something different. She also helps out more in the kitchen and learns some basic cooking skills. Winner!
Do What We Gotta Do
I’m far from being a great parent. Most days I hate myself for working all day while my kids grow up seemingly in their own worlds. It’s the reason why I don’t check work emails after hours, why I don’t spend a lot of time on social media, and why I don’t write until after bedtime. We all make our own choices, and we can’t judge each other or ourselves when it comes to doing what we have to do. I just hope that at some point, I’ll figure out how to live life better.
Next time, I’ll blog on how each week went. Hopefully it helps other parents out there who are looking for ideas. I’m also happy to hear what other working parents do!