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Is THIS Really Summer Vacation?

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Dani Klein Modisett: I don't know if it counts as summer vacation if your kids are scheduled every hour of the day.

tired mom at the beach with kids

So, it's art class from 9 AM to noon the second week of July, "Summerkids" camp for 10 days in August (no bus, and it's two towns away) and YMCA camp from 9 AM to 2 PM for two weeks in August -- but I can't for the life of me remember which camp is which weeks.

And then there's the surfing we have to fit in. It sounds very impressive, in theory, to have a 7-year-old with a passion for surfing; it's very "California boy" of him. But in truth, if this summer is anything like the last one, it renders me a beachside variation on the soccer mom. It's a 45-minute drive to Venice, Calif., where Aquasurf meets -- which means I end up hanging around like a stage-door Johnny, waiting for my son to exhaust himself. I know I'm mixing metaphors here, but there really is no one way to fully describe the role of mommy in the summer months. Especially if you have more than one child to wrangle ... I mean, enjoy.

One of the biggest questions I ask myself daily is, what am I going to do with my 2 1/2-year-old while the older one surfs, or learns archery and weaves lanyards? Why doesn't Starbucks have on-site daycare? If I could park my toddler with a perky, caffeine-infused college student while I amped myself up on Frappuccinos (the new light ones, of course -- GENIUS!), that would be a huge help. I haven't even mentioned the 4,000 days in June I now have to fill since they're ending the school year early due to budget cuts.

As the end of the academic year fast approaches, these are the thoughts that run through my brain day and night, like the CNN news crawl at the bottom of the screen. And they have the same effect of distracting me from whatever I am actually supposed to be focused on. In moments of high stress -- like when I actually look at a calendar to see how all the activity puzzle-pieces are going to fit together -- I wonder what would happen if we didn't do anything. If I canceled all the camps and my children and I woke up every day and just looked at each other, snuggled in bed because we had the time to and then figured out how to spend the day. What if my children didn't learn any "skills" other than how to relax and enjoy each other and not be on a timetable? As a former New Yorker whose mind still functions on a grid in hourly increments, I'm pretty sure they would be fine -- but I'd be climbing the walls by 10.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen Race,Ph.D. May 25, 2010, 6:50 AM

That’s a really honest post, thanks so much for sharing it. I was reading the first couple of parts thinking how exhausted I was just reading it! Your struggle is in the fear that you will drive yourself crazy, perhaps more so than the kids being driven crazy, by not being over-scheduled. That’s what shows up at the end of your post. So here’s a thought: Schedule in home camp days. Just like you would be dropping them off at a summer day camp, build a schedule around activities that do not have you leaving your house. You will be amazed how much fun it can be, and you will be amazed how great you will feel from spending so much time connecting with your own children. At the least, if you are going to be running around so much, make certain that your time together is connection time. Turn your cell phone off in the car, shut the computer off when everyone is awake, and enjoy your summer with your kids!

Matt May 25, 2010, 3:13 PM

Well here’s an idea, don’t over schedule your kids so you can go have “you time” with your friends and gossip and sip wine. Don’t complain about the activities YOU signed your kids up for.

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