Now that the holidays have passed, I’m worried about summer. I know this makes me sound like a complete lunatic and I accept that. But last year was my first year of having to plan summer activities and I spent about two months feeling completely overwhelmed and frantic. This year I’m determined to stay calm and stay on top of things.
To review, this is how things went last summer.
June. We started strong, with soccer camp and “cousins camp.” Two favorites. Soccer camp was a half day and John loved it. It moved soccer into head to head competition with basketball for favorite sport. Cousins camp was a week spent in South Carolina with grandparents and older cousins, and that went over like a house on fire. I think there was ice cream every day. Happy boy.
July. The middle of summer included lots of all-day camp at a school in town, and while John was nervous at first, he learned to like it. Probably because a good buddy was with him. When you’re with a friend who you’ve known since birth and who starts each day by tackling you with a hug, life is good. They went swimming every day, went to the library, had lemonade stands, walked around town. Basically, all the things I’d want to do if I didn’t work. Happy boy.
August. This is where things started to come off the rails. We went on a couple of vacations, which were really fun. But then I planned some camp-free, unstructured time and a few short weekend trips. I thought John might like to just hang around, which is what I remember doing during the summer. I now know that this was a terrible idea. By the end of the summer, my usually sunny boy was tired and crabby, none of the sitters were available, and frankly we were all getting on each other’s nerves. Lack of structure was the last thing we needed. I practically launched John into his classroom when school started.
Lessons learned (at least for me):
> A little free time goes a long way. Plans are better.
> Camps are good, particularly one that lasts for a few weeks so you’re not with new people every week.
> Camps with friends are great. Like one long playdate.
> The last two weeks in August are the black hole of child care. Plan accordingly.
I feel like I’m already a little bit ahead of the game. At least this year I know which options exist. Last year all that information had to be spoon fed to me by some very kind friends. I also know that I can’t get a rough idea and then and hope for the best. I need to actually get a calendar and plan it all the way out. Possibly with color coding. Deposits will be made, plane tickets will be purchased, and babysitters will be required to sign their names in blood.
I know all this now. But we’ll see if knowing it equals actually doing it.
I’d be happy to share my camps grid with you – ha ha. Color coded. Almost all the way filled in. The favorite “farm” day camp of many sold out on Jan 9, the day it opened registration. I was READY, dammit. Had the friends lined up and my fingers on the dial that morning. We’re in! It’s tough out there. I am five summers into this now. It is getting easier. We’ve tried science camp, regular day camp, farm day camp, museum camp, YMCA camp, video game creation camp, civil war history camp, “early days/pioneering” camp, MYO chocolate camp, Italian language camp, Cyber something or other camp, Harry Potter camp, fun in the sun camp, you name it. After lots of trying, I am down to three or four camps that we love that have decent/good 32-hr-week-working-mom hours. August is a pickle here, too. Sarah starts school Aug 1. Will starts Aug 21. Don’t ask. It ain’t pretty.
August 1! Wow, that’s an early start. On the plus side, less to worry about for August.
Friends at camp make all the difference in the world! Let’s have a color on the chart for that! I’m with you – one big calendar with every week planned out. It’s the only way to stay sane.
Tiffany, that’s the driving force for my entire approach to summer planning. You and I need to discuss!
Yes! Let’s have lunch or coffee in February.
Katie, John told me about your diagnosis and posts and I’ve just had the time to read them all. I enjoy your style of writing and thoughts and the way you’re dealing with an illness. Your prayer said it all and I hope to remember that. I wonder if now that you have an identified illness if you’re feeling more control over your life. You don’t know where it will take you but you have a real reason to prepare your body to handle it the best way possible. Many of us aren’t focused on a demanding reason to strengthen our body and mind so when we don’t feel like doing it there’s no real consequence. Working toward a goal has more of a reason to do something.
As far as summers are concerned, regardless of kids’ activities, they are bored and ready to go back to a routine and see their friends daily. It’s unfortunate that camps are held earlier in the summer because that’s when kids can use some unscheduled time as a break from the school day. Maybe gather a group of friends with kids and everyone take a day to have all the kids at their house. Sort of like a mini camp. That way they’d get to see friends, have something scheduled and to look forward to.