It’s the time of year when we are all climbing the walls. School starts next week. I am sorry, but that is just way too late for my liking.
Summer break lasts about three weeks too long where we are. Depending on the age of the kids, this can be a real burden for some families. If the kids are old enough to drive or have a summer job, then it doesn’t matter as much because they are out of the house. But if you’re the parents of ‘tweens or younger, these last few weeks of summer break are the pits. Face it – most ‘tweens are too old for summer day camps, and the allure of the neighborhood pool can be short-lived. And parents of younger children feel dismay as nearly all of the day camps end in early August. So now we face an endless string of long days filled with children whining, fighting, complaining, making messes, being lazy, and on and on and on.
I am fortunate to be able to work from home. From September through May, I am a virtual juggernaut cranking out work and furthering my education. The momentum slows a bit in June, but just a bit… the kids are still in school for almost half of the month, and the rest of the month is brimming with the newness of summer vacation and an array of exciting activities. After the July 4th holiday, the sheen of summer is starting to fade…neighborhoods empty out as friends go on vacation, it’s hot and miserable, the pool/bike/park/library/YMCA are boring. By August, most parents that I know are just enduring the days and longing for school to start again, just to get the children engaged in something other than SpongeBob reruns and constant requests to go to Target and spend money on worthless junk. All along, work for the work-at-home parent can suffer. It is hard to seek new clients or concentrate on education with so much commotion going on in the background.
It’s no easier for parents who work at traditional jobs away from the house. They get to hear endless complaints from the kids about going to yet another daycare situation. Or they’re scrambling for help because the college student who had been watching the kids has already returned to campus. Or they just suck it up and take a week or so off, thinking they’ll use this week to get a lot of chores done around the house – only to find themselves carting the kids here and there, going to movie after movie just to get out of the house, breaking up fights, and longing to get back to the office for some peace and productivity.
If this sounds like a lot of complaining, well, I guess it is. How did we get to this situation? When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for summer and hated to see it end. Was I a whiny, bored complainer? Certainly not – at least, not as I recall. So why is it that these days I dread summer? And is this really the best way to live our lives?
I think we – both children and adults – can tend to get ourselves into ruts very easily during the summer. We get used to it being unpleasantly hot and humid, so we stay in – regardless of what it’s really like outside. We get used to being lazy, so we fight getting out of our lazy stance to go to a music lesson or do a workout video. We get used to friends being out of town, so we eventually don’t even try to engage with anyone else. And we get used to having noise, messes and chaos around the house, so we just give up and tell ourselves that we’ll clean up/gear up for work/work out once school gets back in session. Think about it – that sure is a lot of wasted time.
I would like to hear from other families on how to combat this late summer malaise – for children as well as adults. Has anyone formed support groups for summer parenting, targeted for the work-at-home parent or the go-to-a-job parent? In addition, I’d like to hear from families who have experienced year-round school, and find out how it works for you. I love the idea of year-round school. Note – I said that I love the “idea.” I have never lived with this. Is year-round school a blessing or a burden?
Until we come up with the perfect solution, hang in there everyone. School starts soon.