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The Mom Stop: No more lazy days of summer

May 15,2018 14:18

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May 15, 2018 at 9:15 AM May 15, 2018 at 9:24 AM

Lydia Seabol Avant More Content Now
When I think back to the summers of my childhood, I’m reminded of long days at the neighborhood pool, playing “Marco Polo” with other kids or diving for objects in the deep end while the lifeguard’s stereo blasted early ’90s rock.
The tenderness of sunburn comes to mind — because I never could tan — and the exhaustion that came after swimming all day, almost every day. At lunchtime, we’d eventually make our way up the hill about a quarter-mile walk to our house, where we’d have pizza or sandwiches. I’d watch reruns of “Little House on the Prairie” or later, in my teenage years, “Days of Our Lives” just long enough for my food to settle and my swimsuit to dry. Then, it was back down the hill to the pool.
There are some days when I long for the carefree, lackadaisical summer days of my youth.
Summer is different now, for a lot of kids — or at least for mine. As a working mom of three, this time of year means nailing down summer child care. It means browsing through brochures trying to find summer camps that will entertain my kids all day. It means trying to find something fun for my kids to do, but something educational, too. It means trying to find quality child care while school is out for the summer, but not spending an arm and a leg for it.
And then there’s the mom guilt: Of not being home with summers off; for my kids not being able to sleep in everyday, for not being able to give them the flexibility and freedom to be at home with few plans. I realized that recently, when I was out with a group of “mom” friends. It dawned on me, during a discussion about summer programs, that I was the only mom who worked full time.
My kids don’t know what it’s like to sleep in everyday of summer or not have things planned, because it’s never happened before. I’m guilty of overscheduling my kids during the school year, and that doesn’t really stop in the summer. There are swim lessons and tennis camp, vacation Bible school and a summer enrichment course. There is speech therapy sessions and summer tutoring and Lego time at the library.
Last summer, we hired a babysitter to orchestrate transportation and to get the kids where they needed to go. And while it was a logistical headache, it also cost a small fortune. More than anything, the kids just wanted to be at home, playing on the iPad.
This summer, we’re still doing VBS and swim lessons, and there still won’t be sleeping in — we are skipping the sitter this summer and plan on doing a kids “day camp” program instead.
No, my kids will not have the summer I had when growing up. It won’t be lackadaisical or carefree. But it will be fun — at least I hope.
Here are some tips on finding the right summer programs for your child:1. What do you want your children to gain? Question what your goals and expectations are for the summer, and ask your kids, too. Look into camps that meet their interests and will be something they’ll enjoy.
2. Select which type of camp fits your needs. Do you need full-day care all summer long? Or something more short term, like mornings only or afternoons only for a week or two? Is your child interested in overnight camp or a camp that fits a particular interest?
3. Determine your budget. Child care costs a lot, no matter the time of year. And while it’s often less for school-age children, the cost of various camps can add up. Decide early how much you want to spend, as that can play a part in deciding what activities your children should do.
4. Do your research. A good start is to ask other parents for recommendations, or ask them what camps or day programs their children have done. Ask them questions, the good and the bad, and get information from the camps themselves, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. And lastly, get your kids in on the process. It’s their summer, too.— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.

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