Spring Break is barely behind us yet I have been ready for summer for months now. Not because of my desperate need of some sunshine and blue skies, though yes, that is more than needed during this dreary springtime we have in the greater Seattle area. But, instead, because I know if I am not ultra organized for the ten weeks of summer then the punishment will fall heavy. On me.
There is one big commonality I see between the stay at home moms and the working moms when it comes to summertime. What the heck are we gonna do with the kids all summer? For stay at home moms, there may be dread over figuring out day in and day out how to keep your kids entertained all on your watch. For working moms, it is all about coordinating where your kids can be every day for the next ten weeks. You want them to have fun while you are out in the working world where summer breaks don’t exist (for the most part).
Here are eight things I do to prepare for our summer:
1. Start planning early. I literally started building out a summer calendar back in February. I start by figuring out what weeks we will need the full week of camp/child care versus partial weeks. We take a whole week off of work each summer for vacation so that is one week no camp/care is needed. By the time it’s final, there have been at least three versions if not more. I keep an old school hard copy version at work and at home. I also give a copy to my mom and my husband.
2. Give yourself time. You will not get it done in one day. One of the reasons I start so early in the planning is because it takes me hours. Yes, hours. I probably spent about five hours between the camp registrations, coordinating with my mom on what days she will be helping, what days we will be on family getaways where we don’t need camp – and so on.
3. Call on the village. If you are lucky enough to have retired parents living close by, ask if they would be interested in helping out this summer – even if it’s just to pick the kids up from camp on occasion. Or, maybe they’ll even take them a whole day once a week. If your family is not close in vicinity, maybe your kids are old enough to spend a whole week (or more?!) with them.
4. Coordinate with other working parents. After you call on your village for possible help, try coordinating a nanny share with another family. One week, all the kids at your house and the next at the friend’s house. This can often be a money saver as well.
5. Coordinate time off from work. Get your vacation days approved now to ensure you get some quality time with the kiddos during their summer break.
6. Coordinate with your spouse. During the school year, my husband drops the kids off and I pick up. We do the same with summer. I love the summer days of getting to work extra early so I can leave at an early hour and have time left to head to the beach or other fun activities with the kids. It gives me the best of both my worlds on days I can find this balance.
7. Research Camps. This part took me a chunk of time but I am glad I did the leg work. You want to feel comfortable with where your kids will be all summer. High on my must-have list are things like safety, fun environment and flexibility. I’m guessing they are on yours too. Here are some of the things I asked when making our camp selection.
- What is the cancellation policy? The camp I chose this summer allows you to edit/cancel a week in advance. And if they are sick, there is flexibility around reimbursement for that too. I can breathe easy knowing that if something changes, I am not out all that money.
- (If swimming is involved) Is there a swim test? Life guard?
- Are there options for partial weeks versus full weeks? Lots of camps offer only 5 days. My mom will be taking my kids sometimes so I found a camp that has a 3 day option on the weeks I need that.
- What will the kids do? You probably want a camp that will keep the kids busy, safe, building relationships and learning new and fun skills.
- What is the staff-to-child ratio? My daughter turns five this summer so this one is especially important to me since I still get a bit nervous about her going to an all day camp.
8. Look at multiple camps. The easiest option is to stick with the same program all summer, but it can also be nice for the kids to mix it up. For the most part our kids will be attending one camp because it has an insane variety of programs that change each week. Camp ideas to check out include the YMCA, VBS, camps through your kid’s school and community camps. You can even post on your local community’s Facebook page for recommendations you might never have heard of – I bet you’ll be surprised at all the options once you start your research. Hence why it took me five hours to finalize our schedule.
Summer is approaching. Get that calendar out and start planning for those ten weeks NOW. We’d love to hear any tips you have as well!