My Perfect Summer Plans For My Children Fell Apart And That’s OK

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I work from home and have two young kids. I had perfect plans for how to handle summer vacation. During the school year, my oldest is in school while my younger one is home with me. This works out fine. When they’re both home, Lord have mercy. It’s a struggle. But our oldest child’s school normally has a summer camp that runs the entire time between school years.

Until this year.

A few months before the school year ended, they announced it was a money loser and a major hassle and liability and they just weren’t going to do it anymore. Among the parents, it was like that scene out of Airplane 3 when they announce there’s not any more coffee. Just sheer and utter chaos. People scrambled to get their kids into other, more expensive programs. Others cobbled together all the different camps and Vacation Bible Schools in the area in order to get as much coverage as possible. Some just sent their kids to the grandparents for the summer.

But me? I don’t know why but I just didn’t do anything. I didn’t research camps, or at least I didn’t do too much research. I found one week of ballet for the younger child and one week of tennis for the older. And then I gave up.

And it’s turning out just fine.

I’m trying this radical concept I call “incorporating the kids into my schedule.” While I work in the mornings, they play. If they don’t play quietly enough, I send them to their room. At first it was punishment but now that they’ve figured out how to have fun up there, I suspect that they’re secretly trying to get sent to their room. When I go to the gym to work out, they come with me. I pack a lunch and they eat it while watching me do my Crossfit. And then we run errands.

Sure, if we have time to go to the park during the day, which isn’t often, we do it. And I check in on the to guide their activities every once in a while (“No poking your sister in the eye with that broken toy!”). But mostly we’re just having a completely hands-off summer where they find their own fun and leave me alone. I got them some lacrosse sticks and with precisely no direction from me — nor any knowledge of how lacrosse works — they’ve figured out how to catch and throw the ball. This despite the fact their 3 and 4 years old.

Not every day has been great — I may have been in tears earlier this week when my oldest inexplicably cried for a few hours and all my attempts to figure out what went wrong were met with no success — but overall we’re doing fine. The children are playing better with each other than ever before. They haven’t yet gotten to the “I’m bored” stage of things (though I can’t wait to tell them what my mother told me: “Only boring people get bored. Find your own fun.”).

But in general, my girls have grown to learn my schedule and they’re also learning that they’re not the center of the universe.

Best of all, I’m not running around in a car shuttling them to and from every activity known to man. They’ll get their weeks of camp in the middle of the summer and then we’ll be back to the grind of playing quietly while Mommy works.

I’m enjoying our time together so much and I’m so proud of how well they’re handling this, that I’m glad our summer plans completely fell apart. Until the next crying fit, that is.

(Photo: Sunny studio – Igor Yaruta/Shutterstock)