Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
With summer fast approaching, moms are gearing up with plans for camp, travel, and more. Some of us plan well in advance; others scramble at the last minute hoping to squeeze their children into chosen summer programming. All of us begin to anticipate the changes to our daily rhythms and the adjustments that will soon follow.
In order to ensure a smooth transition, it is helpful to think ahead. Here are several thought items to consider:
Travel is one of the first summer tasks to give our attention to. Will there be a high school or college reunion that one or both parents will have to attend? Will the family be going on a family vacation? Do you go back east each summer to visit family? Putting the “have to’s” on the calendar and in the budget will help your decision making for the rest of the summer plans.
If there aren’t finances for travel in the budget, and you’re eager to get the family out of town, think creatively. A family camping trip is not expensive and just as much fun as a family vacation – especially if you enjoy being outdoors, skipping baths, and cooking your meals over a fire. Or, think about taking a few day trips and exploring the state in which you live. Act like a tourist and visit places you have never been to.
Many children spend their summers at camp, and it’s fairly easy to slide into the camp routine from the school routine. Children who attend overnight camp gift their parents with some additional free time. Even if you still have children at home, make sure you take time to appreciate the lighter load.
My children prefer to attend half-day camp. They go for Lego engineering, sports, or mad science camps in the morning and come home for swimming and relaxing in the afternoon. One summer, they all stayed home from camp. I spent weeks beforehand adding up the cost of field trips, gas money, and some babysitting hours so I would have scheduled free time. The total was less than the cost of sending all of them to camp, and we visited every museum, miniature golf course, and outdoor play place in Phoenix. We also saw movies every week, traveled north to some cooler weather, and spent time at the local library.
Other Little Extras
Once you know your travel and children’s camp plans, it’s time to fill in the holes. What other goals do you have for the summer? Does anyone need to attend summer school? Do your children read on a daily basis throughout the summer? If you live in a year-round warm climate like we do – swimming lessons are essential! Make a list of all the “want to’s” and figure out how and if you are able to fit them in.
Start the preparations early. Keep your eye out for summer sales and start purchasing your children’s summer clothes well before they need them. Camps typically post their “to bring” items on their websites early on, and you can start gathering your flashlights, lunchboxes, and bathing suits while your children are still in school. Planning ahead and spreading out the to-do’s over several weeks prevents the mad rush once school is out.
Do your child care needs change in the summer? College students are home from school and many are eager to earn money. Explore local colleges to see if they have a community board online where you can post a position. Think about starting a co-op with some friends where you take turns watching each other’s children. Many camps also have before care and after care to help working parents with their summer needs.
Don’t Forget Your Own Needs
Perhaps, most importantly, is consideration for your Self. Look at the summer schedule you’ve created. How and where will you fit in all your mommy responsibilities? When will you carve out moments for yourself? Careful planning will ensure there is still time for your Self without having to put your children in front of the TV or video games.
I find during the summer months, it helps to adjust my calendar usage as well. I print out pages for the months of summer and use those to fill in any trips, camp schedules or other agenda items. It is useful to see everything at once and to take note of the blanks spots or heavy weeks. A dry erase board is also advantageous when planning for summer.
Thoughtful organization before summer arrives will make for a less stressful, more peaceful and enjoyable summer for the whole family.