Does Your Summer Spell Break?

By on August 9, 2014

Now that all students have finished school, summer break can officially begin…

For some, this signals the beginning of overnight camp with barely enough time to catch one’s breath between school ending and boarding the camp bound bus – some for the entire summer.

Many other students, not going to sleepover camp, are enrolled in day camp. For most children, this means sticking to a schedule – getting up at a specific time (sometimes even earlier than they did for school), making sure to meet their bus at a specific location and going to bed early enough to be alert the following morning.

A disciplined schedule such as the above is exactly what a blogger – 4boysmother.com – is recommending against in her blog in May, 2014 where she offered ten tips on giving kids (hers included) a 1970’s summer. This, she said, includes letting the kids watch TV all day, eat whatever they want, getting them to put on a talent show and making them play outside without fear of them drinking from the water hose, for example.

I was asked by a national radio station to comment on this blog and to respond to the question: Does a 1970’s summer work in 2014? My response, in part, was “It might….if you can get your kids off of their electronics, out of their bedrooms and outside.” Left to their own devices, as the blogger suggests, my guess is that most of our children would rarely see the light of day during the summer months.

The other part of my response was in regards to the working mom in 2014 compared to the mom of the ’70’s. Over forty years ago, most moms were stay-at-home. During the summer months, parents therefore had the choice of keeping their kids at home and hanging out with other moms and their kids outside. Nowadays, finding a program to keep one’s kids busy and safe is not so much choice, but necessity. Although the blogger writes that “it’s totally ok their parents will be at work and nobody will be home all day,” I think that this comment is, unlike the humorous way in which this blog is written, not very funny. Until one’s children are old enough to be left alone at home (and even then most parents realize that leaving their teen alone all day is not the best option and that left to their own devices, they will likely sleep until 2 and stay up all night as a result), parents need to plan summer schedules in advance.

However, if your children are resisting being programmed all summer and you agree that it’s important to give them some down time to catch up on their sleep, stay up later with friends or watch TV all day, but you still have to work outside the house, here are a couple of tips:
• Create a co operative of sorts. Find out which of your children’s friend’s moms or dads are stay-at-home, or maybe home for the summer, or even taking a staycation from work and then create a schedule whereby each of you takes on the responsibility of a few kids for a week at a time, for example. This way, the kids entertain one another while the parent supervises and your child doesn’t feel that his or her entire summer schedule is as rigid as during the school year.
• Hire a babysitter or ask a family member to come into your home a couple of days each week or on a daily basis over a week or two. This way, your children can awake at a more leisurely pace and stay in their pyjamas watching television for a day or so of true vegetation.
If you can, use the summer months as an opportunity for your children (and you) to take a break, to chillax and rejuvenate after a long school year of early morning risings, homework and scheduled extra curriculars.

About Sara Dimerman (aka HelpMeSara)

Sara Dimerman has been an individual, couple and family therapist for over twenty years. She is one of North America’s most trusted parenting and relationship experts and the author of three books – ‘Am I A Normal Parent?’, ‘Character Is the Key’ and a book for couples – ‘How can I be your Lover when I’m too Busy Being your Mother?’ Learn more or listen to advice from Sara and her colleagues by searching for ‘helpmesara’ podcasts on iTunes or by visiting www.helpmesara.com. Check out her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/saradimermanhelpmesara or follow Sara on Twitter @helpmesara.