Sunday, May 6, 2012

How To Survive Summer With Your Kids

How to Survive Summer With Your Kids

Summer is just around the corner, and if you’re a mom like me, the warmest months of the year might fill you with a slight sense of dread. While I love my kids more than anything in the world, there’s perhaps nothing harder than trying to get work done with two bored, moaning and groaning kids in the house.
To prepare for June through August, I’ve been brainstorming ways to keep the kids occupied and happy this summer. I want them to have a great time, as some of my fondest childhood memories are from summer days filled with unstructured play. And as a freelancer, I also want to buy myself some time so I can get my writing done. Here is my summer game plan.

Day Camps

My kids are a bit too young for sleepaway camp, and I doubt I could afford a summer-long camp anyway. But day camp is a wonderful alternative that will keep your little guys or gals busy for 4-8 hours every day. My local 4-H extension program has very affordable day camps that accept kids from 2nd grade to 8th grade. They run all summer with a different theme every week. I let my kids pick out three weeks of camps that they wanted to attend.

Kid Exchanges

Another trick I have up my sleeve? Kid exchanges. This is a fancy name for pooling the resources of other local moms like yourself that would love a little respite during the summer. Team up with two or three other moms and make a set series of days when one of you watches all the kids. Each mom can have the kids for a few days or a week at a time. Having other kids around can of course be stressful, but I’ve found that they are also better at entertaining one another when they are in a group. And, if I watch the kids for a week, it also means I get two weeks that are mostly kid-free, as the other moms take over.

Your Local Swimming Hole

If you have a river, lake, or beach nearby, kids can easily spend a whole day here. Bring your work along, if you can. I’ve been brainstorming blog ideas on a notepad instead of my computer, so I can make the most of this time outdoors.

College for Kids

Many local community colleges and universities have academic summer programs for kids. These can range in price from relatively cheap to pricey, so check out the options near you for more information. Last summer my kids did classes in photography and investigative reporting. While your kids away, you can even consider working on your own education; if this appeals to you, check out Online College Classes.

Hire a Babysitter

This might sound strange to you, but sometimes I hire a sitter, even when I’m at home working. After I’ve spent a long day wrangling with the kids, the two or three hours when the sitter is there mean I can actually hear my own thoughts and get back to my freelance gigs. The trick to having a babysitter around even if you’re there is to make sure the kids understand the boundaries, which is, of course, easier said than done. By now, my kids finally get it that when the babysitter is there, I might as well not be, so they can’t expect me to respond if they come knocking on my door. I pay a teenage family friend $9 an hour to watch the kids when I’m there, and believe me, it’s worth every penny.

Get Them into an Outdoor Sport

My two kids are addicted to video games, and I’m often worried that they’re not getting enough physical activity on a daily basis. Summer is the perfect time for convincing your kids to actually go outside and move around, since the sun is so inviting anyway. Organized sports are more time consuming for kids, and can add focus to their summer. These sports often mean more work for you, and more costs in the way of uniforms and gear, but they may be worth it if your kid is excited about it.
Another alternative is getting your kids into a less formal sporting setting, through tennis lessons, fishing lessons, or something similar. Last summer I advertised in our local paper that I was looking for someone (such as college kids home on break), to take my kids fishing every week, show them boating safety, and teach them how to bait a hook. I got plenty of responses, interviewed the best ones, and found a good match for my kids.           

Summer Enrichment Programs

Perhaps your kids can’t be talked into going to “college for kids,” but they can be talked into building Lego robots or learning how to shoot a bow and arrow. Check out summer enrichment programs offered by your local parks department, libraries, school system, and colleges. These are often less pricey than other classes for kids and still have high quality instruction. If you’re considering taking summer enrichment classes yourself or are looking to go back to school, Accredited Online Colleges has resources for selecting a good program.            

Sources

Penn State University (2012)
University of Iowa (2012)

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