My Summer Mommy Dilemma

There’s one thing I dislike about summer even more than mosquitoes: the lack of scheduled activities for my children.

Some of you probably have one eyebrow raised. You view these months as a welcome reprieve from the morning scramble to the bus, the hustle from school to sports to dinner to bed, and endless band concerts, recitals, and football games.

The rest of you are wondering why I don’t just fill in these hours with time-delineated chores, swimming lessons, a summer class, more chores. Don’t get me wrong, they do some of those things. It’s the rest of the time I’m struggling with. Some part of my maternal being feels the need to micro-manage these all too brief moments of summer for them.

It was easier when they were small. When they were easily distracted with a handful of straws, a bottle of glue, and a pile of colored construction paper. When whole afternoons could be wiled away with a bottle of bubble solution, or a $6 plastic wading pool and a sprinkler. These days a momma’s cure for summer boredom is as close as the Internet, where bazillions of websites offer creative ideas for entertaining little ones.

But what about the bigger kids? The preteens and teens who don’t have jobs yet (or can’t find one in this economy), who don’t drive, and who declare the park, the rec center, and the library duller than death. Beyond pulling out my Cap’n VonTrapp whistle and playing chore drill sergeant, what else can I suggest for them to do? Or should I simply leave them alone and let them amuse themselves? Do I become Sergeant Mom and steal the cords from the electronics? (The thought has occurred to me.)

I hate unproductive hours. Time spent doing nothing, accomplishing nothing, producing nothing, makes me edgy, skittish, and frustrated. But my husband says that’s the whole purpose of having a summer vacation, and I shouldn’t concern myself with how they choose to waste their time, as long as it’s not a sin or harmful to their health. But I feel so GUILTY as a parent watching them do nothing!

So, parents and grandparents out there… how do you handle the wealth of free time in the summer months?
Do you keep the same bedtime and morning schedules in the summer, or do you let your kids stay up late and sleep in?

4 thoughts on “My Summer Mommy Dilemma

  1. Laura C says:

    You know I have the same issues! I have been letting them stay up an hour later, but getting them up by 8:30. They do their chores and Bible reading, have an hour of reading in the afternoon during others' nap time and we have some scheduled weekly activities. Other than that, I try to have them do something creative and spend some time outside everyday. They spend time at friends' and sometimes get into a book that they want to read all day. I'm at a loss for anything else right now, it's a lot of work for mommies to come up with other ideas! I look forward to hearing other people's ideas for their summer.

  2. patti says:

    It's been so long, I had to shake away the cobwebs to remember.


    It's coming back.

    Each child had to plan, get the food for, and cook three "homemade" meals. New chores were added to The List, which already included laundry, kitchen, bath duties. They both did their own laundry from either jr. high or high school on.

    Um, they quickly got summer jobs and continued the trend until, um, now. Perhaps they wanted to get out of the house? LOL.

    We did take really nice family vacations…

    (It's hard to find the balance, huh?)

  3. Heather says:

    That's funny. I am already having mom guilt for not spending enough time doing "nothing" with Matthew, who will be starting preschool in August. The song "let's go fly a kite" comes to mind. Who cares about being productive? It's summer and we are hanging out together. Isn't that accomplishment enough?

  4. Niki Turner says:

    Laura- You are doing better than I am! Josh is the only one home with me much of the time, and I'm at a loss for ways to keep him active and amused.

    Patti- I love the idea of having them do some of the meals! And I'd be thrilled to put them to work somewhere outside the house, but that's the drawback to living in a small town in an economic slump… no jobs to be had! Not even fast food, or grocery, or bussing tables!

    Heather- You are SO like Pat. LOL.

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