It’s been itching at the back of my mind all winter long. The big question — what am I going to do with my kids this summer?
In the past, I’ve managed to spend less time at work and more time working from “home” in the summer. Working from home, however, meant setting up my computer on a picnic table at the pool most days. This way, my kids could participate in swim team in the morning and hang with their friends the rest of the day. It meant I was available to carpool to other activities, be on hand if they needed me or to transport them home whenever they got bored or the weather changed.
This set up worked pretty well for a few years. I was able to get work done at the pool and even had time to visit with friends and squeeze in some laps from time to time. But last year, working poolside was less like paradise and a little more problematic. Maybe it was because the kids had more activities and more demands. The pool would get old and they’d want to go to the mall, or to the movies or to someone’s house. Working on a picnic table also began to loose its allure, and my absence from work became a bit of an issue. Over all, it was a rough summer.
So now I’m left trying to figure out how to make this summer go more smoothly for my kids and for me. Now that the older three are teenagers, they can technically be left in charge of their younger brother at the pool. This means I won’t have to rely on the goodness of friends to be responsible for them when I go to work. And maybe I can drop them off and sneak back home for a few hours to work productively in the comfort of my home office. But that doesn’t solve the problem of what to do when they get bored of the pool. And they still can’t get themselves home if it rains or to their other activities.
So I have yet to figure it out. I know I’m not alone. There are many parents of middle school aged kids out there trying to make sure their kids don’t spend the summer wasting away at home, attached to some sort of digital device.
Middle school is a tough age. They don’t love the idea of organized activities but a total lack of a plan is never a good thing either. We have a story on Maryland summer camps and programs for middle schoolers that might help you solve at least some of the summer problem. There are camps that even the most reluctant teen will love and there are cool opportunities to volunteer over the summer.
Maybe I’ll send my older three on an overnight adventure camp or sign them up to volunteer at our local library. But then who is going to watch the little one at the pool while I work?
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 14, Lilly, 13, Adam, 13, and Jonah, 9.